Date of Award

5-21-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Kathryn Wolff Heller - Chair

Second Advisor

Mary Beth Calhoon

Third Advisor

Laura D. Fredrick

Fourth Advisor

Paul A. Alberto

Abstract

Reading is an essential skill for students with physical disabilities which opens up opportunities in many areas of an individual’s life including the acquisition of knowledge, the ability to read for enjoyment, and the chances of gaining employment. Students with physical disabilities often do not read fluently; however, there is a lack of research on instructional methods to address reading fluency with this population. Methodologies used with students who have physical disabilities are often borrowed from other populations (e.g., the use of repeated readings to increase fluency with students with learning disabilities). Additionally, advances in technology suggest the possible use of computers to model reading. This study employed a changing criterion design to examine the use of a treatment package consisting of repeated readings, computer modeling, error correction, and performance feedback on improving reading fluency with students with cerebral palsy. The areas of reading comprehension and accuracy were also examined. An analysis of the data demonstrated that all students were able to increase reading fluency, accuracy, and comprehension from first to final readings within a session (positive nontransfer effects). Analysis of the percentage of nonoverlapping data revealed that three of the four students also showed slight increases in reading fluency on novel passages (positive transfer effects). Although the results of this study indicated that the treatment package was effective with students who have physical disabilities, more research is needed to examine individual components of the treatment package and to evaluate the use of such methods over a lengthier period of time.

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