Adaptive eBooks for Building Children’s Language Skills


Adaptive eBooks

Type: Vanderbilt Initiative Award (ViA)

Led by an interdisciplinary team of Vanderbilt faculty with expertise in language, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence, this project will develop an adaptive eBook that represents a groundbreaking approach to foster early language. The ability to comprehend complex text is fundamental to skilled employment, but many students (especially those from low-income homes) fail to acquire foundational reading skills. Limited knowledge of vocabulary and complex syntax, along with weak inferential skills, contribute to these deficiencies. Gaps in language ability linked to social-economic status are apparent by age two, leading to achievement gaps that persist throughout the school years.

The team will create an eBook prototype for use by a child alone or while reading with an adult. As the child enjoys a story, an avatar will teach vocabulary and support comprehension and inferential thinking. The book will adapt content to the child’s level, offer parent prompts to guide interaction, and provide games that reinforce learning and assess comprehension. Machine learning algorithms combined with real-time closed-loop feedback will adjust the level of story language and support by utilizing objective measures of child engagement and comprehension.

Faculty Participants

Lead Faculty in bold

Peabody College

School of Medicine (Clinical)

School of Engineering

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