Date of Award

3-4-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Kristine Jolivette. Ph.D. - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

David E. Houchins, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Third Advisor

L. Juane Heflin, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Phillip Gagne, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Abstract

Teaching oral reading fluency is an important aspect of effective literacy instruction. Researchers have investigated a number of strategies shown to be effective with beginning readers; however, less empirical evidence is available for older, struggling readers. The secondary curriculum presents adolescent struggling readers with different challenges, including successful completion of higher level comprehension skill activities, high-stakes assessments, and limited classroom time with practice with oral reading fluency exercises. These conditions may lead to academic failure or school drop-out for students who have limited reading ability. An alternating conditions design (Kazdin, 1982) was used to examine the influence of peer-mediated fluency instruction (repeated reading and continuous reading) on the oral reading fluency and comprehension skills of five high school-aged struggling readers from an urban alternative high school setting. The three dependent variables measured were (a) words correct per minute, (b) number of errors, and (c) number of comprehension questions answered correctly. Results of the alternating treatments design indicate that all students increased their correct words per minute with implementation of peer-mediated repeated reading fluency instruction as compared to the peer-mediated continuous reading instruction. However, mixed results were found regarding accuracy of comprehension questions. Limitations were noted with regard to working within an alternative high school setting, variability in student outcomes, and the use of narrative text. Future research suggestions for using peer-mediated oral reading fluency instruction with students with and without disabilities in alternative high school settings are provided.

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