Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. William Curlette

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Easterbrooks

Third Advisor

Dr. Randall Dobbs

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of the reading component of Ticket to Read®, a computer-based educational program, developed to improve hearing students’ fluency could improve deaf students’ fluency in order to improve comprehension. Fluency, the ability to read text accurately and automatically, forms a bridge from decoding to comprehension. This research is significant because the median reading level of deaf students who graduate high school has remained around a fourth grade level equivalent for the past thirty years, and there is a paucity of research that examines evidence-based practices to improve the reading performance of deaf students. There were 27 subjects in this study from an urban day school for the deaf. A dependent t-test was conducted using the subjects’ scores on a pretreatment and posttreatment reading assessment after nine weeks of treatment. No significant difference from pretreatment to posttreatment assessment was found, t(26) = 1.813, p > .05. In addition, an exploratory analysis using treatment and control groups was conducted using a quasi-experimental design based on mean gain scores from a pretreatment and posttreatment reading assessment. Twenty-seven pairs of subjects were matched on ethnicity, gender, and grade level to determine the main effect of treatment, the interaction effect of treatment and gender, and the interaction effect of treatment and grade level. No significant difference was found for the main effect of treatment, F(1,42) = 1.989, p >.05. Statistical significance was not found for the interaction between treatment and gender, F(1,50) = 1.209, p >.05. Statistical significance was not found for the interaction between treatment and grade level, F(2,48) = .208, p >.05. The results of this study have implications in the field of deaf education and are congruent with the findings of similar studies involving Repeated Readings to influence comprehension. Although significant tests were non-significant regarding students’ improvement on the reading assessment after the intervention, the direction and magnitude of the mean differences effect sizes for students in the treatment group support the need for further research regarding the evaluation of computer-based educational programs that can be used as effective educational strategies to improve deaf students’ reading performance.

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