Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Associate Professor Deslea Konza

Second Advisor

Dr Jeremy Pagram

Abstract

Approximately 15-20% of secondary students in Australia experience reading difficulties. For many, the cognitive effort required to decode words or the lack of automaticity in the elements that contribute to fluent reading prevents effective reading comprehension. Because reading comprehension is of critical importance across the curriculum, students with difficulties in this area are at significant academic risk.

One effective method of improving reading fluency is ‘repeated readings’ (NICHHD, 2000). The purpose of this study was to examine whether the use of repeated readings delivered via a home-based program employing voice recognition software (VRS) could improve the reading fluency and self-perception as readers of adolescent students experiencing reading difficulties. The intervention was designed to overcome the problems associated with delivering a repeated reading program within a secondary English classroom. These problems relate to the amount of time required to conduct such a program within the constraints of the existing curriculum, and the reluctance of students to participate in a program that would draw attention to their reading difficulties.

A treatment group participated in a home-based repeated reading program using VRS over a 20-week period and their results were compared to a comparison group who participated in a more traditional school-based repeated reading program. Reading fluency, comprehensions and reader self-perception were measured before and after the intervention. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and case studies.

The intervention reported in this study resulted in improved reading rate, accuracy and comprehension for both the home-based treatment group and a school-based comparison group, with evidence of larger gains in the treatment group. The students’ perceptions of themselves as readers, however, did not show significant gains.

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