Effects of an Animal-Assisted Intervention on Reading Skills and Attitudes in Second Grade Students

  • Deborah E. Linder
  • Megan K. Mueller
  • Debra M. Gibbs
  • Jean A. Alper
  • Lisa M. Freeman
Article

Abstract

Reading skills are an important component of academic success for school-age youth, and are associated with increased academic performance and positive attitudes about school. The presence of an animal appears to reduce stress during reading. Therefore, the goal of this study was to assess the feasibility and effects of a 6-week after-school canine-assisted reading program in a public elementary school setting. Second-grade students were randomized to either an intervention group (n = 14) in which they read to a registered therapy dog for 30 min once weekly for 6 weeks or a control group (n = 14) with a standard classroom curriculum. Children’s reading skills were assessed biweekly and attitudes about reading were assessed pre- and post-intervention. The 6-week after-school canine-assisted reading program was feasible. Reading skill scores did not change significantly for either group. Although scores on recreational reading attitudes also did not change significantly for either group, the academic reading attitudes scores increased significantly in the intervention group (p = .002), but not in the control group (p = .06). These results support the benefits of an animal-assisted intervention for child literacy on children’s attitudes about reading and can inform future programs evaluating reading programs that include dogs.

Keywords

Animal-assisted intervention Reading Human-animal interaction Child literacy Attitudes towards reading ERAS 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tufts Institute for Human-Animal InteractionTufts UniversityNorth GraftonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Clinical SciencesCummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts UniversityNorth GraftonUSA
  3. 3.Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human DevelopmentTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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