“The Effects of Interactive Reading Computer Programs on Reading Achievement of Middle School Students with Special Needs.”<br />Patricia Green<br />East Stroudsburg University<br />ELED 570: Introduction to Research<br />Dr. Craig A. Wilson<br />April 26, 2011<br />The Effects of Interactive Reading Computer Programs on Reading Achievement of Middle School Students with Special Needs<br />Introduction<br />The traditional education system focused the role of imparting knowledge to students solely on the teachers. Through the “chalk and talk” method, students were expected to listen attentively while the teacher imparts information in a clear and precise manner. The sole responsibility of the students was to record the information dictated in a manner that is understandable so that they will be able to retain it and record it when being tested (Roberts, 2009). Various developments in education led to the inclusion of technology that was integrated with the expectation of developing students’ learning capacity in a creative and innovative manner (Technology’s Impact on Learning, 2011). <br />The term “educational technology” surfaced in the 1960s, when instruction was coined with the experts in audiovisual to bring about a significant distinction between traditional education and educational technology. The major task during the 1960s for technologists and educational professionals surrounded defining the term “educational technology”, which had to include all areas of education to be integrated with the use of technology. In 1963, the first official definition of educational technology was publicized. Teachers defended their authority in the classroom by ensuring that they still maintained control of the content imparted to students and was not directed by technologists as to how to be successful at teaching through the use of technology. They found it very difficult to accept educational technology because of the change that would take place in their teaching style (Januszewski, 2001).<br />Students currently have access to a wealth of information that can be easily manipulated through the use of various computer programs to design text or graphics to produce the desired outcome (Technology’s Impact on Learning, 2011). The use of educational technology is evident in the present classroom environment as it appeals to the visual literacy of students. Curriculum planners support visual literacy because it appeals to the learning capabilities of all students (Januszewski, 2001). Reading is recognized as one of the core academic subjects for middle school students and requires extensive mastery of skills in order to do proficiently. However, there are students who lack the ability to master the skills required in a timely manner and therefore, requires the assistance of technology to strengthen their ability. Technology has weaved its components into the education system to perfect the art of learning (Martin, 2011).<br />Research Problem<br />The Effects of Interactive Reading Computer Programs on Reading Achievement of Middle School Students with Special Needs.<br />Research Questions<br /><ul><li>What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring the academic achievement of Middle School Reading Students with special needs who participated in reading activities that involved the use of technology?
What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring the academic achievement of Middle School Reading Students with special needs who did not participate in reading activities that involved the use of technology?
What is the comparison between the scores?</li></ul>Definition of Terms<br />Educational Technology Also known variously as e-learning, instructional technology and learning technology, educational technology is the use of technology to support the learning process. Although the term can refer to all kinds of analogue technologies (e.g. photographs, film, video, audio recordings), it is usually used to talk specifically about digital computer technology (Educational Technology Insight).<br />Reading is the process of constructing meaning from written texts. It is a complex skill requiring the coordination of a number of interrelated sources of information (Anderson et al., 1985)<br />Special Needs is an umbrella underneath which a staggering array of diagnoses can be wedged. Children with special needs may have mild learning disabilities or profound mental retardation; food allergies or terminal illness; developmental delays that catch up quickly or remain entrenched; occasional panic attacks or serious psychiatric problems (Mauro, 2011).<br />Test-Score a summary of the evidence contained in an examinee's responses to the items of a test that are related to the construct or constructs being measured (Thissen & Waine, 2001).<br />Review of the Literature<br />In 2007, Bell, McCallum and Sorrell conducted a study to examine the effectiveness of computer-assisted reading using the Kurzweil 3000 (Kurzweil Educational Systems, 2000) vs. independent reading for 12 teacher-nominated weak readers. The authors stated that the study had two purposes: the primary purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness of a computerized text-to-speech reading program, Kurzweil 3000, to a traditional (person powered) reading program for improving reading skills in elementary school readers. The second purpose was to determine the extent to which rate and comprehension are influenced by varying computerized oral reading rate. The study was based on the statistical information obtained through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The institute requested information to be presented regarding the severely poor reading conditions of the United States population which was represented by 40%. <br />Twelve fifth grade students who were considered below the reading level were selected by their teachers to participate in this study. The study consisted of five male and seven female students whose age range between eight to twelve years. They participated in an after-school research-service project; it was noted that four of the participants were receiving special educational services due to suffering from reading disabilities. Students were randomly assigned. Members of the experimental group participated in a 45 minutes computer reading program for 4 to 5 days per week for 4 weeks, while members of the controlled group participated in traditional instruction for the same duration. Both interventions were conducted in the same room, the school’s technology lab, which included some desks with computers and some without. The specific composition of the experimental or the controlled group was not listed (age, gender distribution, academic level, etc.).<br />The study was conducted as an experimental pretest-posttest control group design, by randomly assigning the students to either the computerized group or the traditional group after being matched as closely as possible with a peer on reading and grade level. The independent variable was participation in the 4 weeks reading and comprehension program, and the dependent variable consist of the scores from the Comprehension quiz from the Accelerated Reader (AR). The AR comprehension quizzes were choose as a dependent measure for this study because the AR provides a definitive point value system based on students’ comprehension scores following reading; it provides daily, curriculum-based measures of reading comprehension and participants were familiar with the system and understood how to take the quizzes via computer.<br />To compare the effectiveness of computer-assisted reading vs. independent reading, a repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance was conducted. Results showed similar reading rate and reading comprehension means (dependent measures) across type of reading presentation (i.e., independent and computer). Although the results indicated no differences in rate and comprehension overall for the computer vs. independent conditions, some interesting trends emerged. The average reading rate for the 12 students at baseline was 77.5 words per minute (wpm). However, for the six students with baseline reading rates below 78 wpm, scores following the computer condition increased by 4 wpm whereas scores following the traditional condition decreased by 2 wpm. As it relates to students reading faster than 78 wpm, their rate decreased by 1 wpm following the computer condition but increased by 6 wpm after reading on their own. A tendency for slower readers to increase their reading rate after reading on the computer, whereas faster readers tended to decrease their rate following computer reading was noted.<br />High variability in the comprehension scores may have been related to the reading text selection used. Students read AR stories to and took the corresponding quizzes, presumably at their instructional reading levels. Because it allowed for reading level to be controlled and provided consistency in the nature of comprehension checks, ARA was chosen as the medium for reading and testing. However, other measures of reading comprehension may have yielded a more sensitive or accurate assessments. Large standard deviations caused by the variability in scores make significant difference findings more difficult. Logistical problems also limit the conclusions. The conclusions are limited by a small population.<br />In 2006, Kim, Klingner, Kouszekanani, Reutebuch, Vaughn and Woodruff investigated the effects of computer-assisted comprehension practice using a researcher-developed computer program, Computer-Assisted Collaborative Strategic Reading (CACSR), with students who had disabilities.<br />Two female reading/language arts teachers working in an urban middle school and their 34 students participated in the study. Students who participated in the study were: legally identified as having a disability; decoded words at a 2.5 grade level or above as measured by the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test-Revised (WRMT-R) Word Identification (WI) or Word Attack (WA) subtests; were at least 1 year below grade level in reading comprehension, as measured by the WRMT-R Passage Comprehension (PC) or the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests; and they attended a reading class for students with reading difficulties, including students with disabilities. Students were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the comparison group. A total of 16 students participated in the intervention group and 18 participated in the comparison group. Students in the intervention group received the CACSR intervention, which consisted of 50-minute instructional sessions twice per week over 10 to 12 weeks.<br />The study was conducted as an Experimental Pretest-Posttest Control Group Research. General procedures used for all of the participants included pretesting of all participating students, training of participating teachers on the CACSR implementation procedure; implementation of CACSR through collaboration between the trained teachers and research assistant; posttesting of all participating students and interviewing the students in the CACSR group and participating teachers. This study had one independent variable with 2 levels: the CACSR condition and a comparison condition. The trained teacher and research assistant implemented the CACSR with students in the CACSR group twice a week. They received the same reading instruction as the comparison group during a 3 day period. During the CACSR intervention, each student worked with a partner to read, discuss, and answer questions on passages. After the intervention period, the students in both the CACSR and comparison group were assessed individually on the same reading comprehension measures.<br />An ANCOVA using the WRMT-R PC scores showed that the experimental group had outperformed the comparison group on the basis of the adjusted posttest Passage Comprehension scores. A series of statistical test revealed that students significantly improved their reading comprehension, as measured by both a researcher-developed, proximal measure (the CSR measure) and a distal, standardized measure (WRMT –R PC). Standardized mean difference (SMD) effect size also demonstrated positive outcomes that supported the use of the CACSR intervention. In general the finding of this study concur with those of previous CSR and reciprocal teaching studies on these instructional approaches having positive effects on comprehension for students with reading difficulties.<br />One limitation of the study was the teachers’ not taking primary responsibility for implementing the CACSR intervention. Through the decision of collaborative implementation, the trained research assistant initially would take the lead in implementing CACSR and the trained teachers gradually take over the primary responsibility for implementing it. This gradual transfer of responsibility from the trained assistant to the teachers was challenging. As a result, the teachers played a less significant role in assisting the research assistant over the intervention period. Another limitation of this study was the possibility for experimental bias. Pretest and Posttest measures were administered and scored by the researcher and the trained research assistants. Although the importance of an unbiased administration and scoring of tests were emphasized during the training, it is possible that the data may have been unconsciously influenced by the expectations of the persons collecting the data. <br />In 2004, Anderson, Fulton, Melton, Replogle, Smothers and Thomas conducted a study in order to compare the reading achievement growth of fifth grade students following a year of participation in the Accelerated Reader Program with the reading achievement growth of fifth grade students who did not participate in the Accelerated Reader program.<br />Participants in this study included a total of 592 students. In the Jackson Mississippi area, two schools with similar demographics were chosen for this study. At Eastside Elementary, part of the Clinton Public School District, the experiemental group consisted of 322 fifth grade students, consisting of 142 African-American and 180 Caucasian who participated in the Accelerated Reader program. The controlled group consisted of the 270 fifth grade students, 128 African-American and 142 Caucasian, at Gary Road Elementary, part of the Hinds County Public School District, were not involved in the Accelerated Reader program. <br />A pretest-posttest group design was utilized for this ex-post facto study to determine if a significant difference existed between the reading achievement growth of fifth grade students as measured by the Terra Nova standardized reading achievement test with and without Accelerated Reader program participation. Further study was conducted to determine if a significant difference existed in the reading achievement growth of fifth grade students initially scoring in the lower, middle, and upper quartiles for reading comprehension on the Terra Nova with and without participation in the Accelerated Reader program. <br />Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was the statistical treatment performed on the data to determine if a significant difference existed between the reading comprehension growth of fifth grade students with and without a year of participation in the Accelerated Reader program. An ANCOVA was performed using the rank of the posttest reading score as the dependent measure, the rank of the pretest reading score as a covariate, and treatment condition, race, sex and quartile factors. Results revealed that the Accelerated Reader program participants scored significantly lower than those who did not participate in the Accelerated Reader program. The findings showed that the addition of the Accelerated Reader program to the existing reading program did not result in a significant increase in the reading achievement growth of participating students when compared to the reading achievement growth of students who did not participate in the Accelerated Reader program. In addition, the non-Accelerated Reader students obtained higher adjusted mean rank scores than those students who participated in the Accelerated Reader program.<br />More studies are needed to determine if there is a significant difference in students' attitudes toward reading before and after participation in the program.<br />Need for the Study<br />Much more research is needed to develop the education system that is designed in such a way that it reflects the impact and effects of integrating technology in the curriculum. The literature review showed a limited amount of study that focused on Interactive Reading Computer Programs on Reading Achievement of Middle School Students with Special Needs. <br />Based on the literature review, the latest study conducted in this area was 2007. Interactive Reading Computer Programs are advancing on a rapid pace; hence the need for more current study is needed. This study will aid in developing a curriculum that is suited to assist students with special needs to advance in various reading programs.<br />Methodology<br />Research Design<br />The quantitative study will be conducted as a quasi-experimental research, utilizing two different intact elementary school classes with one group classified as the experimental group and the other as the control group. A pretest-posttest, nonequivalent control group designed will be used because the students are of intact groups which require no random assignment. Both classes will complete a reading assignment that tests their reading and comprehension skills through traditional classroom instruction and cooperative learning. The experimental group will use a computerized reading program using the integrated learning system (ILS) SuccessMaker. The quasi-experimental design is diagrammed as follows:<br />G1O1X1O2GS1<br />G2O3-O4GS2<br />G1 and G2 represent the two reading classes participating in the study. G1 is the experimental group that will be exposed to the experimental treatment. The experimental treatment is using the computerized reading program and is represented by “X”. G2 is the control group that will not be exposed to the experimental treatment. A dash (-) is used to denote the control group. O1 and O3 denote the mean scores for each group on the pretest treatment, O2 and O4 represents the mean scores on the posttest. In calculating the gain score of the two groups, the mean of the pretest score is subtracted from the mean of the posttest score. GS1 is the gain score for the experimental group and GS2 is the gain score for the control group.<br />Subject Selection<br />Twenty fifth grade students who are legally identified as having a disability will be participating in this research, age range between 10 to 12 years old attending Langston Hughes School in East Orange, New Jersey. The school is strategically located in a developing community with mixed socioeconomic profile and a steady increase in academic performance. The students are enrolled in the Basic Skills Instruction (BSI) program which is based on low NJ PASS standardized test scores (below 200) and below grade level fluency records. The population will consist of 55% African-American, 20% White, 15% Hispanic and the remaining 10% Asian students. Gender will be approximately equivalent among the groups.<br />Two intact groups will be utilized for this research. Students will enroll in an after-school reading comprehension program; the material selected will align with the reading curriculum for fifth grade students. Section assignment will be done using a computer program. Each group will consist of 10 students, who attend the same school, have received the same instruction, have similar academic performance results, the same reading difficulty level and the same teacher. The program will be held in the school’s technology room, with some desk with computers while the others are without. Both sections will be instructed together after-school and the tests will be given to both groups at the same time.<br />Procedure<br />The subjects will be instructed by the same teacher who will issue the same reading material and use the same teaching methods for both sections. Both the experimental and control group will receive tradition BSI in reading and participate in the program for 30 minutes each day for 3 days per week for 2 weeks. Students will be issued the same pretest on the first day of the study. The pretest scores will serve the baseline for understanding the students’ reading and comprehension level and will be used to compare the later measures. The scores from the pretest will aid in predicting the level of interest that students have in the subject area. After the completion of the pretest, the students will be divided into two groups (G1 and G2). Both groups will receive identical reading chapters for the pretest and posttest. <br />Throughout the unit, both groups will participate in identical learning activities designed to enhance their reading and comprehension skills. The topics to be covered during BSI instruction will be: locating information in a story to answer comprehension questions, identify the characters and setting of a story, building vocabulary and using a dictionary.<br />G1, the experimental group, will receive instruction using SuccessMaker for various reading skills as determined by the computer program’s interpretation of individual students needs. The program will provide students with a strong instructional focus on developing phonological awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension skills through a lesson-based format that allows them to practice and apply these skills. <br />G2, the controlled group, will participate in traditional instruction for the same duration. The control group will engage in reading tasks that are facilitated by the teacher such as reading grade level books or reviewing prior reading skills using worksheets as determined by the classroom teacher. The teacher will be required to assist with supervision of the experiment and provide any form of guidance required by the students. At the end of the 2 weeks period, all students will be required to take the posttest. Scores from the pretest and posttest will be used to determine the gain scores.<br />Measuring Instrument<br />A pre-existing from the Bench Mark assessment series for Grade 5 will be used for both the pretest and the posttest measures. A copy of the pretest and posttest instruments is attached. The measures consist of short stories, a series of multiple choice questions and a short written response or extended written response. Both instruments will measure the subjects’ reading and comprehension of the poem and short story. The pretest, entitled Ducks, has six multiple choice questions and one short answer question. The posttest, entitled The Soccer Game, consist of five multiple choice questions and a short answer question. According to the rubric provided by the test creators, each multiple choice question is worth 1 point, short written response is worth 2 points and extended written response is worth 4 points. The subjects’ responses will be pooled and averaged in order to determine the mean scores on the instrument for qualitative analysis.<br />The bench mark assessment tests are closely parallel to the national and state reading assessments. Additionally, program authors and editors conducted a careful alignment of the assessments to states’ Reading and Language Arts Standard. The results are sets of test that are closely linked to both national and state language arts standards assuring their content validity. The empirical validity of the test was assured through a tryout that included over 14,000 students at grade 1 to 6 in school districts thought the United States. The socioeconomic population of the schools closely paralleled that of the entire population of the U.S (Farr,?). The test items were designed to measure reading and comprehension ability as defined by this study.<br />Data Analysis<br />Pretest and posttest scores will be recorded the experimental and control group in order to determine the possible gain scores. The gain scores will be calculated by subtracting the pretest mean scores from the posttest mean scores. The results will be represented in a table as follows:<br />Mean Gain Scores of the Reading and Comprehension Instrument<br />Experimental Group (G1 SuccessMaker)Control Group (G2 No SuccessMaker)Mean Score PretestO1O3Mean Score PosttestO2O4Gain ScoreGS1GS2<br />GS1 and GS2, the gain scores, for each group will be compared in order to interpret the outcome of the study and verify any experimental effect due to the independent variable of experimental interest (SuccessMaker). A copy of the measuring instrument is attached.<br /> <br />Significance<br />Anticipated Outcomes<br />The proposed study is designed to answer three research questions. The first question is, “What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring the academic achievement of Middle School Reading Students with special needs who participated in reading activities that involved the use of technology?” I predict students in the experimental group will demonstrate positive gain scores, which will be moderately high, in the range of +2 to +3.<br />The second question asked, “What are the gain scores on an instrument measuring the academic achievement of Middle School Reading Students with special needs who did not participate in reading activities that involved the use of technology?” I predict students in the control group will also demonstrate positive gain scores, but moderately low, less than +2 point.<br />The final research question asked, “What is the comparison between the scores?” This question is the core of the entire study. I predict there will be an experimental effect due to the independent variable. In analyzing this research question, I would expect this effect to be evidenced by the mean gain scores of the experimental group being significantly greater than the mean gain scores of the control group. The results obtained through answering this question will reflect the impact of integrating an interactive reading computer program (ILS SuccessMaker) on reading achievement of middle school students with special needs. Basic Skill Instruction helps to instruct students of lower reading and comprehension ability, however, SuccessMaker has the ability to individualize learning to the needs of each student, as was evidenced by some of the research studies I reviewed in preparation of this proposal.<br />Relevance<br />If the students who participate in integrating an interactive reading computer program (ILS SuccessMaker) to demonstrate a higher mean gain score in improving reading achievement than the control group, who did not use the interactive reading computer program, then this study will contribute further evidence to support integrating interactive reading computer programs, ILS SuccessMaker in particular, to positively impact student’s learning in reading and comprehension in conjunction with teacher instruction and guidance. These results also provide additional support specifically to the notion that interactive reading computers aid in improving reading and comprehension skills of students suffering with various learning disabilities.<br />If the study achieved the expected results, then educators should seriously consider using SuccessMaker and other interactive reading computer programs to enhance traditional BSI instruction to aid in improving students’ reading and comprehension abilities. Such activities should be seen as a way to further individualize instruction to meet students’ needs in order to foster positive growth and development in academic learning.<br />Reference List<br />Anderson, Eugene., Fulton, Ray., Personal author, compiler, or editor name(s); click on any author to run a new search on that name.Melton, Cindy M., Replogle, William H., Smothers, <br />Bobbie C., and Thomas, Lisa. (2004). A Study on the Effects of the Accelerated Reader Program on Fifth Grade Students’ Reading Achievement Growth. Retrieved March 16, 2011 from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5006657841.<br />Anderson, Richards C. (1985). Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the <br />Commission on Reading—A Critical Review. Retrieved March 16, 2011 from http://www.lessonsense.com/info/word-identification.html.<br />Bell, Sherry Mee., McCallum, R. Steve., and Sorrell, Christy A. (2006). Reading Rate <br />and Comprehension as a Function of Computerized versus Traditional Presentation Mode: a Preliminary Study. Retrieved March 16, 2011 from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5035163207.<br />Educational Technology Insight. Why Educational Technology? Retrieved March 16, <br />2011 from http://edtech.twinisles.com/rb/.<br />Farr, Roger C. (?). Bench Mark Assessments Grade 5 3rd Edition. Harcourt School <br />Publishers.<br />Januszewski, Alan. (2001). Educational Technology: the development of a concept. <br />Englewood, CO: Greenwood Publishing Group.<br />Kim, Ae-Hwa., Klingner, Janette K., Kouzekanani, Kamiar., Reutebuch, Colleen Klein., <br />Vaughn, Sharon., and Woodruff Althea L. (2006). Improving the Reading Comprehension of Middle School Students with Disabilities through Computer-Assisted Collaborative Strategic Reading. Retrieve March 16, 2011 from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5016671666.<br />Martin, Anni. (2011). Middle School Reading and Assistive Technology. Retrieved <br />March 16, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/facts_5660750_middle-school-reading-assistive-technology.html.<br />Mauro, Terri. (2011). What are “Special Needs”? Retrieved April 5, 2011 from <br />http://specialchildren.about.com/od/gettingadiagnosis/p/whatare.htm<br />Roberts, Hermes. (2009). The disadvantages of a traditional classroom. Retrieved March <br />15, 2011 from http://www.helium.com/items/1319506-the-disadvantages-of-a-traditional-classroom.<br />Technology’s Impact on Learning. Retrieved March 15, 2011from <br />http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/tiol.html.<br />Thissen, D., & Wainer, H. (2001). Test Scoring. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.<br />