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Use of precorrection strategies to enhance reading performance of students with learning and behavior problems.

This study investigates the effectiveness of a precorrection procedure in teaching decoding de·code  
tr.v. de·cod·ed, de·cod·ing, de·codes
1. To convert from code into plain text.

2. To convert from a scrambled electronic signal into an interpretable one.

 skills to students with learning and behavior problems. Six students with learning and behavior problems from a public school in southeast Alabama Southeast Alabama is the term used to identify the southeastern counties in the state of Alabama. Other names for the area are The Wiregrass and Lower Alabama. The area includeds the Counties of Dale, Pike, Houston, Coffee, Henry, Geneva, Barbour, Crenshaw and Covington.  participated in the study. A multiple-baseline single subject research method was used. In the baseline The horizontal line to which the bottoms of lowercase characters (without descenders) are aligned. See typeface.

baseline - released version
 phase, Direct Instruction (DI) was the primary teaching method. In the treatment phase, precorrection was added to evaluate the effects of precorrection on accuracy in reading on acquisition, retention, and on-task behavior. Experimentation lasted for 21 days. The results indicate that using precorrection as an intervention A procedure used in a lawsuit by which the court allows a third person who was not originally a party to the suit to become a party, by joining with either the plaintiff or the defendant.  improves students' accuracy in reading sounds and words, and increases on-task behavior. The investigators recommended further studies using greater numbers of students over longer periods of time.


Students who have early reading problems are likely to continue experiencing reading difficulties as well as face other academic challenges as they move through the school years. Chard and Kameenui (2000), for example, stated that children who are poor in reading skills in first-grade have an approximately 90% chance of remaining poor readers after 3-years of schooling. In addition, Slavin, Karweit, Wasik, Madden mad·den  
v. mad·dened, mad·den·ing, mad·dens
1. To make angry; irritate.

2. To drive insane.

To become infuriated.
 and Dolan Dolan is a surname, and the following people:
  • Charles Dolan, founder of HBO and chairman of Cablevision Systems Corporation
  • Daniel Dolan, Catholic bishop
  • Daria Dolan, financial journalist and wife of Ken Dolan
  • Ellen Dolan, American actress
 (1994) demonstrated that if students are poor readers at the end of third-grade, their likelihood of successfully finishing high school is significantly decreased. In an analysis of 30 years of research on how children learn to read, Grossen (1997) found that early and explicit reading instruction is critical to children's learning and their difficulties become persistent and long lasting if their reading disabilities are not remediated early. Because of early failure, poor readers also develop a dislike of reading and gradually read much less than skilled readers. Early, intensive and remedial REMEDIAL. That which affords a remedy; as, a remedial statute, or one which is made to supply some defects or abridge some superfluities of the common law. 1 131. Com. 86. The term remedial statute is also applied to those acts which give a new remedy. Esp. Pen. Act. 1.  reading instruction, therefore, is necessary to assist at-risk at-risk
Being endangered, as from exposure to disease or from a lack of parental or familial guidance and proper health care: efforts to make the vaccine available to at-risk groups of children. 
 beginning readers as they work toward mastering the skill of reading (Rabren, 1994).

The beginning reading stage refers to "the period when students are learning to decode (1) To convert coded data back into its original form. Contrast with encode.

(2) Same as decrypt. See cryptography.

(cryptography) decode - To apply decryption.
 the first several hundred words presented in the classroom program" (Carnine, Silbert, & Kameenui, 1997, p. 54). After conducting a comprehensive and technical synthesis of a multi-disciplinary review of beginning reading research, Adams Adams, town (1990 pop. 9,445), Berkshire co., NW Mass., in the Berkshires, on the Hoosic River; inc. 1778. Its manufactures include chemicals, textiles, and paper products. The Berkshire region attracts tourists year-round.  (1990) argued that phonics phonics

Method of reading instruction that breaks language down into its simplest components. Children learn the sounds of individual letters first, then the sounds of letters in combination and in simple words.
 is a key element in beginning reading instruction for all students. In addition, Adams found that children' s knowledge of letters of the alphabet alphabet [Gr. alpha-beta, like Eng. ABC], system of writing, theoretically having a one-for-one relation between character (or letter) and phoneme (see phonetics). Few alphabets have achieved the ideal exactness.  and their ability to distinguish phonemes (i.e. letter sounds) are reasonably accurate predictors of students' first-year adj. 1. Being in the first year of an experience especially in a U. S. high school or college; - of a person.

Adj. 1. first-year - used of a person in the first year of an experience (especially in United States high school or college); "a
 reading performance. Through her analysis, Adams also concluded that reading methods, including phonics instruction on isolated letter sounds and blending sounds into words, result in higher first-grade achievement in word recognition and spelling. Early phonemic pho·ne·mic  
1. Of or relating to phonemes.

2. Of or relating to phonemics.

3. Serving to distinguish phonemes or distinctive features.
 training benefits were examined in a study with 90 kindergarteners (Ball & Blachman, 1991). The children were divided into three groups: (a) a phonemic awareness Phonemic Awareness is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to distinguish phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. For example, a listener with phonemic awareness can break the word "Cat" into three separate phonemes: /k/, /a/,  group, who received instruction in segmenting phonemes and in letter-name and letter-sound correspondence; (b) a language activities group, who were provided instruction in various language activities and letter-name and letter sound correspondence; and (c) a control group who received no intervention. The phoneme phoneme

Smallest unit of speech distinguishing one word (or word element) from another (e.g., the sound p in tap, which differentiates that word from tab and tag). The term is usually restricted to vowels and consonants, but some linguists include differences of pitch,
 awareness group performed significantly higher than the language activities group and the control group on a phoneme segmentation posttest post·test  
A test given after a lesson or a period of instruction to determine what the students have learned.
. There was no significant difference, however, on phoneme awareness between the language activities group and the control group. These results suggest that specific training in phonemic awareness has a positive effect on early reading development

A more recent study examined the effects of phonological pho·nol·o·gy  
n. pl. pho·nol·o·gies
1. The study of speech sounds in language or a language with reference to their distribution and patterning and to tacit rules governing pronunciation.

 skill development and letter knowledge of at-risk kindergarteners. Shneider, Roth, and Ennemoser (2000) compared the effects of intervention programs on groups of kindergarteners at-risk for dyslexia dyslexia (dĭslĕk`sēə), in psychology, a developmental disability in reading or spelling, generally becoming evident in early schooling. To a dyslexic, letters and words may appear reversed, e.g. . These 138 children were randomly assigned as·sign  
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.

 to 1 of 3 groups, with the following training procedures: (a) letter-sound training, (b) phonological awareness Phonological awareness is the conscious sensitivity to the sound structure of language. It includes the ability to auditorily distinguish parts of speech, such as syllables and phonemes.  training, (c) combined letter-sound and phonological awareness training. Results of this study indicate that combined letter-sound and phonological awareness training had the strongest effects on reading and spelling during grades 1 and 2. This study suggests that while all three methods have positive effects, the combined approach is more effective in early reading development.

While most students adequately learn early reading skills (such as phonemic awareness and letter-sound correspondence), others have great difficulty in acquiring such entry level decoding skills (Beck & Juel, 1995). An increasing proportion of children in American schools have been diagnosed as having a learning disability, and the vast majority of them are identified as such because of difficulties in reading (Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998). In a longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
, conducted by Shaywitz and Shaywitz (1996), the authors estimated that 17.5 % of the school children in primary and middle schools have reading disabilities. In the report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas.  (1997), it was estimated that 40%, 30%, and 25% of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders, respectively, were reading below grade level.

Reading difficulties, in part, can be due to either biological deficits or poor reading instruction (Snow, et al., 1998). Poor readers sometimes have phonological processing problems caused by underdevelopment underdevelopment

an error in x-ray film developing procedure. Causes the production of a flat film with poor contrast; the unexposed background is gray instead of black.
 of the brain system (DeFries & Alarcon, 1996). But for those children without biological deficits, difficulties in reading may be due to inappropriate reading instruction. As such, explicit instruction may be one alternative to teach reading to students with learning and behavior problems.

Direct Instruction is an explicit rule-based instructional approach. Specific features of Direct Instruction (DI) are described by Darch (1993): (a) "presentation of an explicit problem-solving strategy, (b) mastery teaching of each step in the strategy, (c) development of specific correction procedures for student errors, (d) a gradual switch from teacher-directed to independent work, and (f) built-in cumulative review of previously taught concepts" (p.89). An impressive body of research has supported DI as an effective approach for teaching academic skills and strategies to students with learning and behavior problems (Tarver, 1996).

Swanson (1999) examined the effects of interventions in reading for students with learning and behavior problems. The two general models he compared are general strategy instruction and DI. He was interested in determining whether certain models of instruction have broad effects across word-recognition and comprehension comprehension

Act of or capacity for grasping with the intellect. The term is most often used in connection with tests of reading skills and language abilities, though other abilities (e.g., mathematical reasoning) may also be examined.
 measures, or are specific to one domain. Swanson concluded that the combination of strategy and DI positively influences reading comprehension Reading comprehension can be defined as the level of understanding of a passage or text. For normal reading rates (around 200-220 words per minute) an acceptable level of comprehension is above 75%. , while DI improves word recognition.

Swanson's study also summarized the important instructional components for teaching word recognition. These components include sequencing, segmentation, and use of advanced organizers during comprehension instruction. Sequencing refers to "breaking down the tasks, fading fading

fading skin coloring. See Arabian fading syndrome (below). Declining in body condition, general health, activity and productivity.

Arabian fading syndrome
general health is unimpaired.
 of prompts or cues, matching the difficulty level of the task to the students, sequencing short activities and/or using step-by-step prompts" (p. 522). Segmentation means breaking down the words into small units (individual letter or letter combinations). Advanced organizers refer to directing children to look over material prior to instruction. In the DI decoding program, these components are organized into comprehensive teaching lessons.

Specified error correction procedures is another feature of DI reading that researchers are now beginning to investigate. Teachers are directed to use different correction procedures to correct various categories of reading errors. If a student makes an error with a word in story reading, for example, the teacher will immediately say "stop," model that word, and ask the whole group to read and spell that word Until firm. Lastly the teacher will ask that student to read from the beginning of that sentence.

Compared with correction, precorrection is proactive and may be a beneficial instructional strategy to more effectively teach students with learning and behavior problems to read (Colvin, Sugai, & Patching, 1993). Precorrection is defined as "an antecedent ANTECEDENT. Something that goes before. In the construction of laws, agreements, and the like, reference is always to be made to the last antecedent; ad proximun antecedens fiat relatio.  instructional event designed to prevent the occurrence of predictable problem behavior and to facilitate the occurrence of more appropriate replacement behavior" (Colvin, Sugai, Good & Lee, 1997). It is comprised of the following steps: (a) identifying the predictable problem, (b) making clear the expected behavior, (c) adjusting the context, (d) modeling the expected behavior, (e) strongly reinforcing the expected behaviors, (f) motivating the expected behaviors, and (g) closely monitoring the students' performance. Most researchers focused on using precorrection to manage behavior problems (e.g., Colvin et al., 1993, & Colvin et al., 1997).

The precorrection strategy may have effective application to reading instruction with students with learning and behavior problems, but to our knowledge, no studies have been reported that evaluated the effects of precorrection during beginning reading instruction with students with learning and behavior problems. Thus, the focus of this study is to determine the effects of precorrection on the reading and behavior of students during Direct Instruction reading instruction. Specifically, this study will examine whether using precorrection during decoding instruction increases reading accuracy for students with disabilities during beginning reading instruction. Students' abilities to learn sounds and read words will be measured. In addition, this study will determine if precorrection is helpful in increasing students' on-task behavior during reading instruction.


Subject Selection and Setting

Six first-graders with mild disabilities were selected as subjects. All subjects were eligible for special education services. Subject 1 was seven years old and was placed in an English as Second Language program. Her full-scale IQ score as measured by the WISC-III WISC-III Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 3rd Edition  was 70. She was receiving instruction in reading and language. Subject 2, a seven-year-old female, was identified as having mental retardation mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. . Her full-scale IQ score of WISC-III was 64. Subject 3, a seven-year-old male, was identified as having a developmental delay developmental delay
A chronological delay in the appearance of normal developmental milestones achieved during infancy and early childhood, caused by organic, psychological, or environmental factors.
. His full-scale IQ score was 70. Subject 4, a seven-year-old female, was diagnosed with mental retardation. Her full-scale IQ score of WISC-III was 71. Subject 5 was eight years old and was identified as having multiple disabilities. Her reading score of Woodcock-Johnson Reading Mastery Test placed her at the primer prim·er
A segment of DNA or RNA that is complementary to a given DNA sequence and that is needed to initiate replication by DNA polymerase.
 reading level. Subject 6, a female, was classified as developmentally delayed with a full scale IQ of 65.

The six subjects were randomly assigned to one of three instructional groups, each with two students. Daily instructional lessons for all three groups lasted approximately 25 minutes, and occurred in the subjects' assigned special education resource room. The order in which groups received instruction was counter balanced; that is, the order in which group was taught was randomly assigned each day.

Instructional Materials

The instructional program used for this study was the Reading Mastery Series published by Science Research Associates (Engleman, Bruner, Hanner, Osborn, Osborn, & Zoref, 1995). Reading Mastery is a complete basal basal /ba·sal/ (ba´s'l) pertaining to or situated near a base; in physiology, pertaining to the lowest possible level.

 reading program for students in the first- through sixth- grades and is adaptable a·dapt·a·ble  
Capable of adapting or of being adapted.

 for students in special education. Reading lessons last approximately 45 minutes. Phonics is an integral part of the program instructional plan to teach decoding. Reading comprehension also is specifically taught from the very first lesson. Reading Mastery emphasizes the teaching of thinking skills and the acquisition of background knowledge. Reading Mastery I (First-grade level) was used for this study. Reading Mastery I contains 160 daily lessons that teach basic decoding and comprehension skills. Decoding is taught through explicit phonics method that stresses letter sound correspondences and blending. Students practice decoding by reading word lists and stories, both aloud and silently. The Reading Mastery program is scripted and requires teachers to carefully implement sequenced reading activities.

Independent Variable

The independent variable for this study was the application of a precorrection strategy used for teaching decoding skills to students with mild learning and behavior problems. The precorrection strategy adapted for this study was incorporated into the daily 25-minute reading lessons designed to manage persistent academic errors and social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social.  problems. For this study, precorrection strategy adapted for use included having the teacher (a) identify the context and the predictable academic problems, (b) specify expected behaviors, (c) systematically modify the context, (d) conduct behavior rehearsals, (e) provide strong reinforcement reinforcement /re·in·force·ment/ (-in-fors´ment) in behavioral science, the presentation of a stimulus following a response that increases the frequency of subsequent responses, whether positive to desirable events, or  for expected behaviors, (f) prompt expected behaviors, and (g) monitor the plan (Colvin et al., 1993).

Dependent Variables

There were three dependent variables used in this study. Each is described below.

Percentage of Correct Responses (Sounds and Words)

The first dependent variable was percentage of correct responding during reading instruction. Students' responses were recorded as correct when they provided the correct phonetic pho·net·ic
1. Of or relating to phonetics.

2. Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound.
 sound to individual letters. Also, students' responses were recorded as correct when they either phonetically pho·net·ic  
1. Of or relating to phonetics.

2. Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound: phonetic spelling.

 sounded out words, or read the words correctly as sight-words. Percentage of correct responses was calculated by dividing the number of opportunities available to respond to a teacher's question or direction by the number of correct answers provided by the subjects. If a subject didn't correctly respond within one second following the teacher's signal, the response was marked as incorrect. In order for a student's response to be considered correct, the student had to voice the answer loudly enough to be heard by the observer, who was seated approximately four feet away. Data were taken during both group responses and individual turns.

Maintenance Test of Reading Words

The purpose of the maintenance test was to evaluate students' ability to recall the decoding skills previously taught. Subjects were asked to read a list of words taught in previous lessons. Subjects were required to read words as sight words, without vocally sounding them out. The maintenance test was administered individually to students. It is important to note that the maintenance test was administered after each teaching session during baseline and intervention.

On-task Behavior

On-task behavior was measured to determine the levels of participation during baseline and intervention conditions. On-task behavior was defined as the percentage of coded intervals that were recorded. On-task behavior was operationally defined according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 what was appropriate behavior for each particular portion of the reading instruction class. Therefore, during the lesson, eyes on the teacher when she presented or eyes on the materials being presented was defined as on-task during reading instruction. During any individual reading part of the lesson, on-task behavior was defined as keeping eyes turned toward the speaker, raising hands to answer questions, and waiting to be called on by the teacher before responding.

Experimental Design

A multiple-baseline design across three groups was used to evaluate the effects of the precorrection intervention relative to baseline performance. This design relies on the repeated measurement of targeted behaviors and the controlled replication In database management, the ability to keep distributed databases synchronized by routinely copying the entire database or subsets of the database to other servers in the network.

There are various replication methods.
 of effects across baseline (non-intervention) and intervention to support statements about a possible functional relationship between the independent (precorrection) and dependent variables (Colvin et al., 1997).


During the baseline phase, the researcher identified three consistent errors the six subjects madein reading sounds and words. The two errors made by subjects in all three instructional groups when they read sounds were (a) confusing con·fuse  
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.

 the visually similar sounds such as b and p, and (b) identifying and discriminating dis·crim·i·nat·ing  
a. Able to recognize or draw fine distinctions; perceptive.

b. Showing careful judgment or fine taste:
 the vowel sounds Noun 1. vowel sound - a speech sound made with the vocal tract open

speech sound, phone, sound - (phonetics) an individual sound unit of speech without concern as to whether or not it is a phoneme of some language
. The most frequent error students made when reading words was stopping between the sounds when subjects attempted to sound out words.

The first step in baseline was to take repeated measures of performance concurrently on the dependent variables with each group of students in the absence of the precorrection strategy. During the baseline phase, the first author taught reading to the groups using the Direct Instruction Reading Mastery Program. Direct Instruction includes explicit, skill-based, teacher- directed instruction on individual reading skills. In addition, phonetically regular, predictable texts to prompt application of newly acquired skills are used (Carnine et al., 1997). Also as mentioned previously, the Reading Mastery Level I program was used for all these instructional groups. All groups received one lesson each day.

Precorrection Procedure

During the treatment phase, the researchers sequentially introduced the precorrection strategy to each of the three experimental groups by implementing the following teaching steps.

Precorrection strategy 1: Reading visually similar sounds.

For this precorrection strategy, the experimental teacher modeled the correct sounds for the most difficult discriminations in the lesson (e.g., b/d, and p/q) for the students before the actual lesson began. After the precorrection strategy was completed, the students received Direct Instruction for that part of the lesson.

Precorrection strategy 2: Reading vowel sounds.

The experimental teacher instructed students to carefully look at each vowel sound presented in the reading task and then provided a clear model for each vowel sound prior to students reading the list of words. Particular attention was paid to helping students correctly discriminate dis·crim·i·nate  
v. dis·crim·i·nat·ed, dis·crim·i·nat·ing, dis·crim·i·nates

 between long and short vowel sounds (e.g., a/a, and e/e). For example, before they read vowel sound "a", the experimental teacher prompted by saying "Remember, there is a line over the sound which makes it long. It is not "a"(saying the short vowel sound)."

Precorrection strategy 3: Stopping between sounds when reading words.

For this precorrection strategy, the experimental teacher reminded the subjects not to stop between the sounds when blending the sounds in the word. The teacher modeled how to sound out words and blend the sounds without stopping between sounds. The precorrection strategy focused on words that were difficult to sound out. Specifically, words that began with stop sounds (e.g., tap, bat, cup and etc.) were targeted.

Once the baseline rate for each dependent variable with each group was stable, precorrection was applied to Group 1 while maintaining baseline conditions for the other two groups. When evidence of clear and stable improvement was noted in the first group's performance on each of the three dependent measures, precorrection was next provided to both the first and the second group simultaneously. Group 3 continued in baseline. Once the response of the second group improved and stabilized sta·bi·lize  
v. sta·bi·lized, sta·bi·liz·ing, sta·bi·liz·es
1. To make stable or steadfast.

, the precorrection procedure was administrated to the third experimental group. The logic of this design is based on the premise that if each group improves when precorrection is applied to them and the improvement is maintained, it is likely that precorrection caused or was functionally related to the improvement on students' performance on each of the dependent measures.

Data Collection Procedure

The first author and one observer served as primary data collectors for this study. An observer collected data on each of the dependent measures on 10 instructional sessions to determine reliability. Data on all dependent measures were collected daily, across both baseline and intervention conditions.

Percentage of Correct Responses (Sounds)

Subjects' responses to individual reading tasks were recorded daily for five consecutive sound identification-tasks. Students were asked to identify individual letter-sound correspondence from a group of 10-15 letters. Students responded as a group and individually. The criteria used for correct responses were (a) students gave the correct phonetic sound to individual letters, and (b) students responded on the teacher' s signal in individual and group reading formats. Students' responses were recorded daily during baseline and intervention for all groups. A typical lesson required students to respond to 15 sound/symbol presentation.

Percentage of Correct Responses (Words)

Subjects' responses to reading words lists of 10-15 words were also recorded daily. For this measure, subjects were required to sound out each word and read words presented in list format. For responses to be considered correct, students were required to sound out words correctly including not stopping between sounds, and accurately identify each word as a sight word. This measure was recorded daily across baseline and intervention.

Maintenance Test (Words)

Maintenance tests were administered to the subjects to measure their ability to retain previously taught material. The researcher identified 10 words previously taught in the instructional program that were not presented during the day' s lesson. These words were placed in a list and students, at the end of each instructional session, were asked to read the list as sight words. This measure was implemented daily at the end of the scripted teaching Scripted teaching or scripted instruction refers to commercial reading programs that have highly structured lessons, often with specific time allotments for teaching specific skills, and often word-for-word scripts of what the teacher is to say.  lesson during baseline and intervention. A typical test required students to read 10 words.

On-task Behavior

The observer coded on-task behavior using a 10-second time-sampling technique; he observed the students for 9 seconds and recorded the student's behavior during the tenth second. If the student was engaged in appropriate behavior for the assigned tasks in the entire nine seconds, the observer recorded a slash (/) in the appropriate interval on the data sheet. If the student was engaged in any inappropriate behavior during the nine seconds, the observer recorded 0 in the specific interval In diatonic set theory a specific interval is the shortest possible clockwise distance between pitch classes on the chromatic circle (interval class), in other words the number of half steps between notes. . A different student was coded each 10-second interval. The observer systematically coded the two subjects in each group in a predetermined pre·de·ter·mine  
v. pre·de·ter·mined, pre·de·ter·min·ing, pre·de·ter·mines
1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance:
 order; therefore, the observer recorded the same subject at the end of each 10-second interval. One complete rotation through the two subjects in a group took 20 seconds. The process was then repeated continuously for the duration of the session.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of precorrection when teaching decoding skills to students with mild disabilities. A multiple-baseline single-subject research Single Subject Research Designs

aka small-n research designs, quasi-experimental research designs.

This group of research methods is used extensively in the experimental analysis of behavior in both basic and applied settings with both human and non-human
 design was used for this study. Six first graders with mild disabilities served as subjects. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Every group received Direct Instruction (DI) in the baseline phase and DI plus precorrection in the treatment phase. Results on the three dependent measures are discussed in the sections below.

Group Percentage of Correct Responses on Sound/Symbol Relationship

The results on the percentage of correct sound/symbol identification for sounds for each group are shown in Figure 1. As can be noted, each group performed over 50% correct during the baseline conditions. Group 1 had an average of 69% of correct responding while Group 2 and Group 3 averaged 67% and 54% respectively. With the introduction of precorrection in conjunction with DI, each of the three groups increased in accuracy of sound-symbol identification. As can be found in Figure 1, Group 1 averaged 93 % of correct responses during the DI plus precorrection phase. Group 2 averaged 90% correct during the intervention phase while Group 3 averaged 79% correct. These results indicated that DI paired with precorrection significantly improved students' academic accuracy in reading sounds. The data pattern in the treatment phase showed that students' performance increased immediately with the introduction of the precorrection strategy and maintained at high levels of accuracy throughout the intervention.


Group Percentage of Correct Responses of Reading Words

The results of the percentage of correct word reading for each group during the baseline and the intervention phase are shown in Figure 2. In the baseline phase, all the three groups performed poorly on the word reading tasks, specifically, 55% correct responses for Group 1, 39% correct for Group 2, and 36% correct for Group 3. For each of the three instructional groups, stopping between the sounds when asked to sound out words was the most frequent reading error. Students also had difficulty discriminating correct sounds that were visually and auditorily similar (e.g., e vs. i). After precorrection was introduced to each of the three groups sequentially, their word reading accuracy improved dramatically. Group 1 had the most gain. They went from 55% correct during the baseline condition to 86% of correct responses in reading words during intervention. Group 2 averaged of 81% of correct responses and Group 3 had an average of 64% word reading accuracy during the precorrection intervention.


Group Percent Correct on Maintenance Test

Figure 3 provides readers with the performance of the three groups on the maintenance test for baseline and intervention phases. The average performance for Group 1 on the maintenance measure was 46% correct. As can be noted, Group 1 doubled their percentage of correct responding during the precorrection treatment phase of this study. Similar results were found for the other two groups. Group 2, for example, increased their average reading performance on the maintenance measure from 20% correct to a level of 52 % correct. Group 3 has the lowest performance of the maintenance measure (10% correct). During the intervention phase Group 3 performed at 34% reading accuracy on the maintenance test.


Group Percent of On-Task Behavior

Figure 4 presents the results of students' on-task behavior across baseline and intervention for all three instructional groups. As can be noted, the percentage of on-task behavior increased with the introduction of DI plus precorrection for each group. In the baseline phase, Group 1 and Group 2 had moderate percentages of on-task behavior, with an average on-task level of 51% and 55% respectively. Students in Group 3 were less attentive at·ten·tive  
1. Giving care or attention; watchful: attentive to detail.

2. Marked by or offering devoted and assiduous attention to the pleasure or comfort of others.
 during baseline (on-task level 39%). In the treatment phase, all three groups had significantly higher on-task behavior levels. Group 1 increased their level of on-task behavior to 79% while Groups 2 and 3 increased levels of on-task behavior to 74% and 53% respectively. However, it is important to note that for groups who were exhibiting higher levels of off-task behavior, precorrection is not a powerful intervention strategy for these types of behavior problems.



The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a Direct Instruction reading program that included a precorrection strategy when teaching decoding skills to students with mild to moderate learning and behavior problems. The results of this study suggest that precorrection used with Direct Instruction teaching methodology can be an effective and efficient intervention for teaching beginning reading skills to students with learning and behavior problems. The results of this study have important implications for teachers since the three precorrection strategies used were easy to implement and fostered increased decoding performance across all three instructional groups.

The precorrection strategies when paired with Direct Instruction teaching methods improved students' accuracy of reading sounds and words. This is an important finding since many students with learning and behavior problems have early reading difficulty when learning sound-symbol relationships and basic word reading. Specifically, each of the three groups increased their accuracy in identifying sounds by approximately 25% during the intervention phase of the study. A similar pattern of results occurred when students were evaluated on their ability to read individual words. Group 2, for example, increased most in their accuracy, resulting in an increase of almost 42%. Group 1 and Group 3 increased word reading accuracy approximately 30% during the intervention phase.

It was also found that precorrection was an effective strategy with subjects with various learning and behavior problems. Every subject increased their accuracy of reading sounds and words, regardless of their disability. The average increase across subjects was 16% correct in reading sounds. The average increase in reading words was 17%. Results further suggest that precorrection is effective in increasing the percentage of on-task behavior. The results showed that students' on-task behavior increased in each group during the intervention phase of the study. Group 1 increased on-task level 28% while Group 2 and Group 3 increased on-task levels 19% and 14% respectively.

As this study shows, when teachers implemented precorrection with Direct Instruction, increases in reading performance and on-task behavior occurred. This study presents further evidence that teachers can effectively manage students' academic and behavior problems by preteaching difficult content. In fact, as Kameenui & Darch (1995) argued, most mild forms of disruptive disruptive /dis·rup·tive/ (-tiv)
1. bursting apart; rending.

2. causing confusion or disorder.
 behavior can be managed with effective instruction. This study also illustrates the importance of correction procedures when teaching beginning reading to students with learning and behavior problems. Providing precise instructional support when students are learning entry level reading skills will result in improved performance.

While this study provides initial evidence that can be effective in improving students' performance, the small scale of this study presents obvious limitation. Six first-graders with learning and behavior problems served as subjects in this study, thus the results of present study are limited to students with similar learning histories. The small number of subjects also limits the generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion
1. The act or an instance of generalizing.

2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application.
 of those findings. Finally, because the intervention period of this study was relatively short, 21 instructional days, future studies need to be completed to determine the effectiveness of teaching various students over longer periods of time.


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1. Drawing apart from a common point; diverging.

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3. Differing from another: a divergent opinion.

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Yu Miao, Doctoral Student, Department of Rehabilitation and Special Education. Dr. Craig Darch, Human-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor of Special Education. Dr. Karen Rabren, Assistant Professor of Special Education.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Craig Darch, 1228 Haley Center, Auburn University, Alabama Alabama, indigenous people of North America
Alabama (ăləbăm`ə), indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages).
 36849-5226; darchb@auburn Auburn (ô`bərn).

1 City (1990 pop. 33,830), Lee co., E Ala.; inc. 1839. The city's economy centers around Auburn Univ.; there is some manufacturing.

2 City (1990 pop. 24,309), seat of Androscoggin co.
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Author:Rabren, Karen
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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