Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Second Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Naugle

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Linda LeBlanc

Abstract

Difficulty learning how to read is a risk factor for school failure, low grades, behavior problems, juvenile delinquency, truancy, unemployment, jail time, and substance abuse. Reading difficulties are common in the educational setting, afflicting anywhere from 20-40 percent of students. Read Naturally is a computer-based reading program which targets the third "big idea" (i.e„ accuracy and fluency with reading). The current study assessed the efficacy of the Read Naturally program in second through fourth grade elementary students in a public elementary school. Additionally, this study assessed whether improving reading abilities resulted in changes in classroom behavior problems or self-esteem. Eighty-two students from a small, public elementary school who were in need of additional reading support, according to the DIBELS Benchmark Assessments, participated in the current study. Students were matched on DIBELS scores, grade, race, and gender and then randomly assigned to either the Read Naturally condition or the Education as Usual condition. Students used the Read Naturally program for 30-45 minutes each day, five days a week, for eight weeks. Results suggested that, throughout the 16 weeks of intervention, significant improvements were generally seen on all of the reading measures over time, regardless of the condition to which students were assigned, although small effect sizes generally favored the Read Naturally intervention. Additionally, students in higher grades generally demonstrated more improvement on the WJ-III Summary Scores, WJ-III Passage Comprehension subscale, and the WJ-III Word Attack subscale, regardless of the condition to which they were assigned. Student measures suggest that Read Naturally does not result in increased self- esteem, even with improvements in academic performance. Behavior measures were inconclusive. Generally, the effects of the Read Naturally intervention appear discernible, but not incremental, suggesting that Read Naturally may not be more efficacious than typical education, but may have benefits in terms of targeting larger groups of students, being individualized to each student, and may allow another way for teachers to target the third "big idea." Future research is warranted.

Comments

5th Advisor: Dr. Patricia Steinert-Otto

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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