Date: 2015-05-20

Degree: Doctoral Thesis

Programme: Education

Authors: Jennifer Erin Camulli

Supervisors: Doctor Chia Kok Hwee (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) Co-supervisor: Doctor Andrew Found (University of Saint Joseph)



The research reported in this dissertation explored the effect of a tactile-based multisensory approach on beginning Chinese readers and writers in Macao. In an experimental design, 35 kindergarten Chinese participants were recruited as treatment subjects and 70 other kindergarten Chinese participants as control subjects. Pre-testing and post-testing measures were used with all participants to investigate possible differences after 8-weeks exposure to the multisensory approach. Both reading and writing skills were investigated with additional baseline comparisons. Data were analysed statistically. A pre-test/post-test one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) revealed no significant differences between groups for either reading or writing outcomes. Post-hoc pairwise Bonferroni-corrected comparisons revealed that triple-character words compared to single-character and to double-character words had significantly lower reading outcomes for all groups (both p’s < .001). A one-way repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant effect of time on dictation outcomes between words learnt in K2T2, K3T1, and K3T2, F(2)=561.15, p < .001. Post-hoc pairwise Bonferroni-corrected comparisons revealed that words most recently learnt were not recalled as well as those learnt over a longer period of time (p < .001). Additionally, within an educological perspective, this study used narrative inquiry to explore the various teaching methods used by different Chinese nations to provide an understanding of the historical, praxiological, scientific, philosophical, and jurisprudential factors that have influenced the development of instructional practices of Chinese language. Qualitative analysis based on observations gathered during the study resulted in recommendations for instructional changes in Macao from contextual learning to component-based instruction where radical awareness and subcomponents of characters are taught.