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Improving early reading skills for beginning readers using an online programme as supplementary instruction

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Abstract

Many children fail to acquire basic reading skills. The current evidence base for supplementary reading instruction indicates that explicit, systematic and intensive instruction in the early years for children considered to be ‘at-risk’ of reading difficulties can have significant and preventative effects on reading skills. However, little research has investigated the effects of supplementary instruction for beginning readers as they first encounter formal reading instruction, regardless of whether they are considered ‘at-risk’. The current study investigated whether using an online reading programme (Headsprout® Early Reading; HER) as supplementary instruction for readers in Year 2 regardless of initial reading problems leads to improvements in reading skills as compared to children not receiving this additional instruction. Fifty-one children in Y2 (6–7 years) from two mainstream schools in North Wales participated in the study. Participants were randomly allocated to either the HER group or a waiting list control group. Following pretest reading assessments, the HER group enrolled in the programme as supplementary instruction for up to 45 min daily for 8 months. There were significant and marginally significant differences in favour of the HER group across measures of reading accuracy and word recognition skills, with medium and large effect sizes on most measures. The results indicate that using HER as supplementary reading instruction for beginning readers in Year 2 can have a significant effect on reading skills. Further research is required to investigate the potential benefits of class-wide implementation as standard provision for beginning readers.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

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Correspondence to Emily Jehanne Tyler.

Additional information

Emily Tyler. School of Psychology, Bangor University, Brigantia Building, Penrallt Rd, Bangor, LL57 2AS. Email: e.j.tyler@bangor.ac.uk

Current themes of research:

Evidence-based education, effective reading instruction and special educational needs

John Carl Hughes. School of Psychology, Bangor University, Brigantia Building, Penrallt Rd, Bangor, LL57 2AS. Email: c.hughes@bangor.ac.uk

Current themes of research:

Behaviour, evidence based education, Precision Teaching, special educational needs, training

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Hughes, J. C., Beverley, M., & Whitehead, J. (2007) Using precision teaching to increase the fluency of word reading with problem readers. European Journal of Behavior Analysis. 8(2), 221–238.

Hulson-Jones, A., Hughes, J. C., Hastings, R. P., & Beverley, M. (2013) Using the toolbox series for literacy with adult struggling readers. European Journal of Behavior Analysis. 14(2), 349–359.

Michael Beverley. School of Psychology, Bangor University, Brigantia Building, Penrallt Rd, Bangor, LL57 2AS. Email: m.beverley@bangor.ac.uk

Current themes of research:

Evidence based education and Precision Teaching

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Hughes, J. C., Beverley, M., & Whitehead, J. (2007) Using precision teaching to increase the fluency of word reading with problem readers. European Journal of Behavior Analysis. 8(2), 221–238.

Hulson-Jones, A., Hughes, J. C., Hastings, R. P., & Beverley, M. (2013) Using the toolbox series for literacy with adult struggling readers. European Journal of Behavior Analysis. 14(2), 349–359.

Richard Patrick Hastings. Centre for Educational Development Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL. Email: r.hastings@warwick.ac.uk

Current themes of research:

Families of children with disabilities and special educational needs, mental health problems in children and adults with disabilities, and evidence-based educational interventions for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Hulson-Jones, A., Hughes, J. C., Hastings, R. P., & Beverley, M. (2013) Using the toolbox series for literacy with adult struggling readers. European Journal of Behavior Analysis. 14(2), 349–359.

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Tyler, E.J., Hughes, J.C., Beverley, M. et al. Improving early reading skills for beginning readers using an online programme as supplementary instruction. Eur J Psychol Educ 30, 281–294 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-014-0240-7

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