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THE EFFECT OF REPEATED READING EXERCISES WITH PERFORMANCE-BASED FEEDBACK ON FLUENT READING SKILLS.

In line with students' progression to upper grades of school life, expectations related to reading and other academic skills increase. During this process, some students may experience difficulties in reading skills although they do not have any cognitive, psychomotor or affective problems. Findings obtained from longitudinal research (Dion, Morgan, Funchs, & Fuchs, 2004) emphasize two main issues related to this topic. First, unless the necessary masures have been taken, a student who cannot read well will not be successful and the problem will deteriorate; secondly, if these students are provided with a learning environment where they will be able to acquire important reading skills, they will become good readers. The fact that the reading skill is one of the basic ways of learning increases the need for studies investigating how individuals, especially those who experience reading difficulty can become good readers.

An analysis of the literature reveals that there are a lot of studies on handling reading difficulties or development of low-level reading skills (Alber-Morgan, Ramp, Anderson, & Martin, 2007; Begeny & Martens, 2006; Eckert, Ardoin, Daly, & Martens, 2002; Hitchcock, Prater, & Dowrick, 2004; Homan, Klesius, & Hite, 1993; O'Connor, White, & Swanson, 2007; Rasinski, 1990); the topic has been addressed in various scientific meetings, some policies have been developed and reading experts have been raised to serve in this field (Eckert, Dunn, & Ardoin, 2006; EURYDICE, 2011; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, [NICHHD], 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Uyar, Yildinm, & Ates, 2011). The majority of these studies focus on reading fluency and significant progress has been made in terms of handling the problems of students with reading difficulty. On the other hand, an analysis of the reading policies in Turkey reveals that a national policy which addresses 'improvement of reading skills, handling reading problems, training students with reading difficulty' has not been developed to date. EURYDICE (2011) reports also highlight the fact that good practices for children with reading difficulties are lacking in Turkey. It could be argued that many factors are responsible for the formation of such a negative situation in Turkey. First of all, in line with the academic studies worldwide, there is a lack of research and practice in the handling of reading difficulties and problems in Turkey. In the recent years, there is an increase in the magnitude of research in this line, yet it has not reached the critical point to attract people's attention (Akyol & Yildiz, 2010; Ates, Yildinm, & Yildiz, 2010; Cayci & Demir, 2006; Dag, 2010; Duran, 2013; Sidekli & Yangin, 2005; Yildiz, Yildinm, Ates, & Rasinski, 2012; Yilmaz, 2008; Yuksel, 2010). On the other hand, elementary school teachers have considerable difficulty in diagnosing and remediation of students with reading difficulty and feel incompetent (Ates, et al., 2010; Yildiz et al., 2012). Thus, inability to find solutions to students with reading difficulty indicates the loss of many students (Uyar et al., 2011). This situation highlights the need for further research on the issue.

When students fall behind the generally expected level in reading skills, some educational interventions are done in order to remove this reading failure. It is possible to categorize these interventions aiming to develop fluent reading skills or remove reading problems into two: skills-based and performance-based interventions (Eckert, Dunn, & Ardoin, 2006). The literature reports that initially, the effectiveness of skills or performance-based single practices are tested, later skills-based or performance-based practices are unified or utilized in a way that the two are incorporated (e.g., Alber-Morgan, Ramp, et al., 2007; Schunk & Rice, 1990; Therrien, Wickstrom, & Jones, 2006). Reading problems stem from inefficient skills, as well as students' failure to exhibit their performance (as cited in Eckert et al., 2006). Research has demonstrated that providing information or feedback to students in relation to their performance is effective in terms of academic or behavioral development (Eckert et al., 2006; Conte & Hintze, 2000; Eckert et al., 2002; Eckert, Ardoin, Daisey, & Scarola, 2000; Bonfiglio, Daly, Martens, Lin, & Corsaut, 2004). In the present study, the co-utilization of skills-based and performance-based practices is investigated. The repeated reading techniques are skills-based while computer and graphics-aided feedback practices are performance based.

Method

This study employed single case study method. In this kind of research, it is aimed to figure out subject' situation, implement an intervention, and review the implementation process to see whether the intervention is effective on outcomes (Creswell, 2005; Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). In the present study, it was aimed to explore effects of repeated reading fluency intervention with performance based feedback on a student with reading difficulty.

Participant and Setting

This research took place at a public elementary school in Turkey's Ankara province with a student with reading difficulty. For ethical consideration, the student' name was shortened and labeled as HB. HB was 10 years old. In the selection process of the student, required information about the student was obtained from school staff (school principal, classroom teacher, and school counselor). According to feedback, it was interviewed with 10 students and had them to read a text at their grade level to observe their reading fluency skills. The study used one of the purposeful sampling methods, including criterion sampling. Through the preliminary measurements, it was seem that HB was at frustration level in terms of word recognition accuracy (% 88.8 < % 95) (Richek, Calwell, Jennings, & Lerner, 2002). The following criterions was taken account for selecting the student: studying at upper elementary grades, not having any physical (seeing, hearing etc.) and mental disabilities, having any reading fluency difficulties, and not taking any diagnosing and remediation support. After selecting the student according to predetermined criterions, the student' parents and the school was informed about intervention process and taken their informed consent letters. Following this, it was done some assessments related to the student's reading level and reading difficulties before the intervention. All the intervention period took place in the student's school.

Materials

In the intervention period, collecting the data and analyzing them, video camera and computer software was used. In determining the students' reading level before and after intervention and during the intervention, narrative passages were used. These passages were picked from the Turkish language arts textbooks published by different publishing companies and their appropriateness according to grade levels were approved by Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and the teacher portal concerned website of MoNE, including activities related to grade levels. It was not computed readability levels of the passages about whether or not they were suitable for grade levels since they were approved by MoNE. The selected passages were arranged as teacher and student forms. The teacher forms of the passages were suited to coding easily. A section was inserted into the teacher forms of the passages to record the student's word recognition automaticity and reading miscues. While the classification of reading miscues varied in the literature (Akyol, 2010; Pearson, Barr, Kamil, & Mosenthal, 1984), in the present study, the miscues such as omission, addition, reading incorrectly, hesitation, reversal were taken account and besides, there was another section in the teacher forms of the passage, showing starting and ending time of readings and corrects words read in a minute. All of the intervention period and assessments were video recorded. Following this, all records were used for providing feedback to the students and assessment process.

Measurements and Reliability

In the research, the measurements was employed to keep running records regarding the student's automatic word recognition in one minute [word correct per minute (WCPM], number of miscue, and miscue types. WCPM was computed as a total number of words read correctly in one minute. When the student read a word correctly in three seconds or made self-correction for any word read wrongly in five seconds, they were accepted as true. However, when the student read word wrongly, did omission, insertion, substitution, and reversal or did not read word in three seconds, they all were accepted as wrong. Besides this, when the student made any row omission, all word in the row were considered as reading miscue.

The passages were adapted into two different forms and reading miscues were coded during the reading process and also by watching reading video records, all assessments were confirmed. The words read correctly in one minute was computed for the student in every session and the student's reading miscues were marked on the researcher form of the passage at first and then recorded on the miscue record sheet. To provide reliability of the intervention process, 50% of recorded reading sessions related the student was watched and scored by an independent rater. Then, inter-rater reliability was computed (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The agreement between two raters ranged 95.4 % to 100%. In the implementation of the intervention period, not only the researcher implemented required activities, collected the data, analyzed and reported them but also the researcher came together with HB in certain days of week and made one on one lessons. Through these lessons, the researcher checked the fidelity of intervention process. The study was aimed to collect a detailed data. The results obtained from this study suited only HB and were limited to the people's experiences around HB and the intervention in the study. To make contribution to validity and reliability, the student's responsibility, intervention process, limitations of the study, and collecting the data were described in detail.

Procedures

The research began in second week of March. This intervention duration lasted 38 hours. The intervention took place two or three days of weekday, and in a silent room provided by the student's school staff. Before the intervention, reading aloud sessions were conducted with the students to explore reading fluency level and reading miscues. At the beginning of every session, the researcher told the student that "there is a story in front of you. When I ask you to read it, you can start to read aloud. You need to read every word you meet. If you face any word you could not read, I will read it. Now, show me your best reading." If the reader could not read any word in three seconds, the researcher provided the necessary support.

The student read a total of 36 words correctly in one minute from the first passage. HB made a total of 22 reading mistakes from the passage with 198 word-long and he completed reading of the passage in 5 minutes. During the reading, the student made 7 omission miscues, 3 addition miscues, 4 unable to read, and 8 reading wrong miscues. Before the intervention, another passage was used to repeat the measurement about the student's reading fluency and reading miscues to make sure whether or not it was collected the reliable data. These measurements also showed that the student was at the frustration level in regard to reading (less than 95 %; Richek et al., 2002).

After determining the student's reading level and reading miscues, the literature concerned with reading difficulties was reviewed and scheduled a working plan, including repeated reading fluency intervention with performance based feedback. These activities taking place in the present study were as follows:

Performance Based Feedbacks and Repeated Readings: during the intervention three kinds of performance based feedback was provided to the student. First one was concerned with the number of words read correctly. Second one was concerned with reading miscues. Third one was concerned with feedback including correcting reading miscues. All these feedback was related to the student's performance (Eckert et al., 2006; Konold, Miller, & Konold, 2004). Following the student's readings, it was given breaks changing from 10 to 15 minutes. During the breaks given, the researcher computed the number of word the student read in one minute and coded the student's reading miscues on coding sheet. During these breaks, the student also read trade book while the researcher assessed the student's readings. Before the second session, the student was informed about first session performance, including the number of words read in one minute and reading miscues. Besides this, after every session, voice analysis technique toward determining the words read wrong. In this technique, it is asked a student to pronounce word read wrong. This process continues till the student read the word correctly (Konold et al., 2004). The repeated reading activities followed feedback process and then HB was involved in second reading session. The all activities in the first second were repeated in the second session as well. Before the second session started, the student' previous reading results were presented as comparatively and the student was informed about the number of words read correctly and reading miscues in every session. In the every other day, the video records related to the student's reading performance were watched to the student and the charts related to the student' performance were showed to the student.

Findings

Prior to the intervention, the student's reading level and reading miscues were determined by asking the student to read aloud. After the 20-hour practice, interim measurements were made and following the 38-hour practice, post-measurements were made in order to identify the student's reading level and reading errors. In line with the collected data, HB's development in terms of reading skills was monitored and the related findings are presented comparatively in Table 1 and Table 2.

The first practice data presented in Table 1 reveal that the student's error rate is high while the word recognition rate is low. While a significant decrease is observed regarding HB's error rates during and at the end of the process, a significant increase is observed in terms of words accurately read per minute. The student has shown progress from frustration level to the instruction level in terms of word recognition. It could be argued that giving feedback in relation to correctly read words and the reading errors after each performance and the accompanying repeated readings may have influenced HB's reading skills positively.

As regards reading errors, HB made the highest number of errors in omission and inaccurate reading. These errors were usually made in long words with 3-5 syllables. After the corrective feedback, it was observed that HB paid more attention to long words in the reading process. After the practice, there was a decrease in omission and inaccurate reading errors while no changes were observed in terms of inability to read errors. In the evaluation of student performance, if the student cannot read within 3 seconds, the word was provided by the researcher and coded as inability to read errors. The fact that students who received feedback on their reading performance waited so as not to misread may have kept this type of error stable.

Discussion

In the present study, a performance based skill development program was applied in order to remove the reading problems of a student who has fluent reading skills problems. After the intervention, a positive change was observed in HB's reading skills in terms of word recognition accuracy and word recognition automaticity. Studies on children with reading problems in Turkey point out that programs for removing reading problems and improving reading skills are effective to a certain extent in Turkey (Cayci & Demir, 2006; Dag, 2010; Duran, 2013; Sidekli & Yangin, 2005; Yilmaz, 2008; Yuksel, 2010). A distinguishing feature of this program is its performance based rather than skills based structure. It aims to improve students' reading fluency depending on the student's performance. In addition, it stands out among others since its content structure is so clear and simple that most teachers can administer it both individually and in small groups. The program incorporates giving feedback to the child about his/her performance and repeated reading practices. The literature demonstrates that both repeated and performance based feedback techniques are influential in terms of improving reading skills (Conte & Hintze, 2000; Eckert et al., 2000; Eckert et al., 2006; Homan et al., 1993; O'Connor et al., 2007; Rasinski, 1990; Therrien et al., 2006). However, it is necessary to carry out more research with a higher number of participants in order to associate the positive effect observed both in this study and in others with the program. It is thought that any one-to-one study on students with reading problems may lead to development of reading skills to a certain extent. Therefore, inability to associate the positive improvement observed in students with the administered approach is one of the limitations of the present study.

Reading fluency is one of the most important reading competencies for children's reading success (Rasinski, Reutzel, Chard, & Limon-Thompson, 2011). Reading fluency refers to the ability to read text accurately, automatically, and with appropriate prosody (Hudson, Lane & Pullen, 2005). However, prosody was excluded from the scope of the present study, while the focus was directed to accurate reading and reading rate. For, researchers hold that resources can be utilized in order to improve prosody after accurate and fluent reading (Schwanenflugel, Hamilton, & Kuhn et al., 2004). Therefore, the present study aims to improve accurate reading and reading rate in the first place. Future research might investigate prosodic reading and its effects on developing comprehension.

In conclusion, students with reading inefficiency may not always show the level of success expected from them. They will reach the desired level although it may take some time. For this reason, individualized education programs addressing reading problems and reading performance should be prepared for these children and such practices should be disseminated after their effectiveness is tested. There are teachers who prepare individualized programs and teaching materials in special classes and centers in the US and in many European countries and experts have been raised for this purpose (EURYDICE, 2011; International Reading Association, [IRA], 2007). Although a decision was made regarding the implementation of such programs in Turkey in the 17th National Education Council, it has not been put into practice (MEB, 2006). It could be argued that constructing programs for training reading experts and equipping teachers in this regard is a significant and urgent need for Turkey.

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SEYIT ATES

Elementary Education

Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey
Table 1. HB's number of words read accurately per minute, percentage of
word recognition and number of errors

Assessments          Texts   Number of words in   Number of   WCPM (*)
                             the text             errors

                       1     198                  22          37
First evaluation       2     121                  15          37
Interim evaluation     3     159                   9          41
                       4     130                   4          46
Final evaluation       5     200                   9          52

Assessments          WRA (**) (%)

                       88.8
First evaluation       87.6
Interim evaluation     94.3
                       96.9
Final evaluation       95.5

(*) Word Correct Per Minute, (**) Word Recognition Accuracy

Table 2. HB's reading errors in the reading process

Assessments         Omission  Insertion   not to read   Read incorrectly

                    7         3           4             8
First evaluation    8         2           1             4
                    3         -           2             4
Interim evaluation  2         -           1             1
Final evaluation    3         -           4             2

Assessments          Reversal

                    -
First evaluation    -
                    -
Interim evaluation  -
Final evaluation    -
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Author:Ates, Seyit
Publication:Reading Improvement
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Date:Mar 22, 2019
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