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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Rebecca K. Arvans-Feeney
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Improving Reading Fluency and Comprehension in Elementary Students Using Read Naturally
Dr. Scott T. Gaynor, Chair
Dr. Galen Alessi
Dr. Amy Naugle
Dr. Linda LeBlanc
Dr. Patricia Steinert-Otto
Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
1509 Wood Hall
Difficulty learning how to read is a risk factor for school failure, low grades, drop out, 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 that targets the third “big idea” (i.e., accuracy and fluency with reading). The current study assesses the efficacy of the Read Naturally program in second through fourth grade elementary students in a public elementary school. Additionally, this study assesses whether improving reading abilities results in changes in classroom behavior problems. Eighty-two students from a small, public elementary school who were in need of additional reading support, according to the DIBELS Benchmark Assessments, participate in the study. Students are paired on DIBELS scores, grade, race, and gender and then one member of the pair is randomly assigned to the Read Naturally condition and the other member is assigned to the Education as Usual condition. Students use the Read Naturally program for 30-45 minutes each day, five days a week, for eight weeks. Results suggest that, throughout the 16 weeks of intervention, significant improvements are generally seen on all of the reading measures over time, regardless of the condition to which students are assigned, although small effect sizes generally favor the Read Naturally intervention. Additionally, students in higher grades generally demonstrate 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 are assigned. Student measures suggest that Read Naturally does not result in increased self-esteem, even with improvements in academic performance. Behavior measures are inconclusive. Generally, the effects of the Read Naturally intervention appear small and inconclusive, suggesting that future research may be warranted.