Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Raymond J. Ostrander

Second Advisor

Luana Greulich

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Problem

Many students are failing to become proficient readers with current instructional methods used in American schools. Students frequently make improvements in two of fluency’s dimensions, rate and accuracy, but these improvements have not consistently correlated to improvements in reading comprehension, which is the objective of reading. The automaticity plus prosody (APP) model was developed by this researcher from Topping’s deep processing fluency model to explain why teaching and assessing the multiple dimensions of fluency (rate, accuracy, and prosody) improve comprehension. The purpose of this study was to compare students in a private school in a small town in southwestern Michigan who received a treatment of only repeated reading and self- graphing with students who received a treatment of repeated reading, self-graphing, and an instructional focus of prosody.

Method

An experimental pretest-posttest with control group design was used in this study. Participants were members of a class of third-grade students (n=20) from a private school in southwestern Michigan. The control group consisted of half the students (n=10), and the treatment group consisted of the remainder of the students (n=10). Students were initially matched based on their teacher’s informal assessment results for reading comprehension and reading fluency based on the students’ raw scores from the MASI-R Oral Reading Fluency Measures and CORE Reading Maze Comprehension Test . One student from each matched pair was then randomly assigned to the treatment or control group. The students were trained to engage in repeated reading using fiction passages at their independent reading level. Students in the intervention group were also taught lessons with an instructional focus on prosody. The study consisted of 21 sessions, 20-30 minutes per session, 3 days per week, over 7 weeks. Reading comprehension and dimensions of fluency (rate, accuracy, and prosody) were the dependent variables. These variables were measured with the AIMS-web Maze-CBM, the AIMS-web R-CBM, and the Multidimensional Fluency Scale.

Results

One between (treatment) and within subjects (test period) ANOVA indicated that treatment and interaction (treatment by test period) effects for all dependent variables (rate, accuracy, prosody, and reading comprehension) were not statistically significant at the 0.05 level. However, test period main effect was statistically significant for three of the four dependent variables (p<0.05). No significant changes over test periods were found for accuracy. For prosody (F(3,60) = 6.30, p= .001, ɳ2 =.26), and rate F(1.85, 36.91) = 13.09, p<.001, ɳ2 =.42), significant increases took place between test period 2 (week 3) and test period 3 (week 6). For reading comprehension (F(3,60)=33.20, p<.001, ɳ2 =.65), significant change was observed between test periods 3 and 4. These results indicate that students improved in rate, prosody, and reading comprehension regardless of whether or not they received instruction on prosody. Thus, for this group of third-grade students, prosody instruction appears to be not effective in helping students improve reading fluency and comprehension.

Conclusions

The APP model, as applied to reading development, was supported by the results. Repeated reading with self-graphing, which was done with students in both the control and intervention groups, developed students’ basic fluency through appropriate, successful practice that led to automaticity. These gains in automaticity contributed to higher comprehension and oral expression, both of which are elements of expressive fluency. Whereas non-significant results did not show an instructional focus on prosody- created heightened levels of fluency or comprehension, the length of the study, the small sample size, and other limitations may have mitigated against adequate opportunity to identify differences between the groups. This study did confirm that students’ fluency and comprehension levels can be significantly raised in a short period of time.

Subject Area

Versification, English language--Versification, Reading comprehension, Reading (Elementary), Reading--Ability testing, Reading--Research.

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