EDTECH Research

EDTECH Research Project

Subject Area/Grade Level: Reading/Elementary School

Instructional Objective: Increase Reading Fluency and Comprehension with Elementary Students

Pre-Research Discussion:

Teaching in a Title One school for ten years has proven, to me,  that there is a correlation between reading well, understanding concepts, and a willingness to learn about new ideas.  
During the last three years of teaching third grade, 20-30% of the students were not reading at grade level by the end third grade and were not officially labeled as disabled reader.  These are the students that have the highest risk of dropping out of high-school in later years.  These students, who need more assistance and time to increase their reading fluency and comprehension, need these services when they are in  2nd, 3rd, and/or 4th grade.

The challenge is not assessing who needs the extra help.  That is relatively easy.  The challenges for a classroom teacher are getting proper professional development in this are, the ability to recognize each student’s challenges in reading,  having access to successful strategies that can be incorporated into small group settings, and finding/using effective technology -websites and software- that can reinforce relevant reading lessons for those students.

I would like to research successful strategies that teach reading fluency and comprehsion to low-income students who are below grade level reading.  I want to understand the correlation between family support and reading fluency.  I hope to find techniques and skills that can be incorporated into small group settings, as well as, technology that will support these students learning the basics which will support their educational needs as they grow.

Post-Research Discussion: (Optional)

The research led me to understand that technology can help struggling students with reading fluency.  However, the technology must be consistent, individualized, times for around 20 minutes each session, and used as a supplement to teacher led strategies.  The research seemed to correspond that small group instruction with researched strategies can also help reading fluency.  The most effective way to help struggling students is using both.  

Annotated Bibliography
Begeny, J.C., and Silber., J.M.  An examination of group‐based treatment packages for increasing elementary‐aged students' reading fluency. Psychology in the Schools 43.2 (2006): 183-195.

This examination was postulated to improve elementary age students reading fluency in a small group setting using a four research driven strategies.  It incorporated: repeated readings, listening passage preview, word-list training, and phrase drill with error correction.  It was a very small model of fou students over a six week course.  The  instruction happened for 7-12 minutes, three to four times a week.  The examination showed that a combination of word-list training, repeated readings, and listening passage previews had positive effects on the group and the effects were retained two days after the lessons, which possibly showed that there was retention of strategies.

This article seemed useful for small group intervention;however, the examination is of such a small number that it’s usefulness is suspect.  Also the model was done with distractions at a minimum which is not a typical classroom of third graders.  I would continue to look for additional research to support this with  a larger population.

Blok H., Oostdam R., Otter M.E., and Overmaat M., (2002). Computer-assisted instruction in support of beginning reading instruction: A review. Review of Educational Research, 72 (1), 101-130.

This article reviews 42 studies on computer assisted instruction in the primary and elementary classroom. It broke down the studies into different reading sub-skills CAI’s. The review states that all studies showed a small improvement to reading skills which they defined as phonological awareness, letter identification and letter-sound correspondence, word identification and recognition skills, and text reading.  The review stated that what the students made on the pre-test was a good predictor for the post-test. The language of instruction being English was also shown to be significant.  The studies they reviewed were for a general population.  

I found this useful with defining the needs of a good reader.  The article began with an intial evaluation of a Stanford CAI program in initial reading ((Fletcher & Atkinson, 1972) which based computer instruction solely on the individual student’s performance and was supplemented with teacher instruction.  This study had better post-scores for those students.  Unfortunately, it was not financially feasible to continue, but this model may work in light of innovations in technology since that time. This article also brought up a new question- are CAI’s effective with ESL students?  I believe that is another topic for another day.

Macaruso, Paul, Pamela E Hook, and Robert McCabe. The efficacy of computer‐based supplementary phonics programs for advancing reading skills in at‐risk elementary students. Journal of Research in Reading 29.2 (2006): 162-172.

This article reported on a study done in ten Boston Title One first grade classrooms.  There was a control group that received only teacher based lessons in reading instruction and the experimental groups that received both teacher based lessons and CAI lessons using Lexile software called Phonics Based Reading (PBR) and another software program called Strategies for Older Students (SOS).  The study found significant gains for Title One students who received both teacher based lessons and the additional CAI lessons.  In fact, Title One students in the experimental group caught up with non Title One students by the end of the year.  The CAI was used 2-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time.  The program was individualized per student based on their performance and those students that completed the most sections made the most gains.

I found this useful because it reinforces the Stanford CAI evaluation from 1972.  Teacher based reading instruction along with an appropriate CAI program in phonological awareness that is regularly done and individualized, will help at risk students in lower elementary grades read significantly better.

Morgan, P.l L, Sideridis,  G., and Hua, Y.  Initial and over-time effects of fluency interventions for students with or at risk for disabilities. The Journal of Special Education 46.2 (2012): 94-116.

This meta-analysis modeling of 44 single participant studies sought to recognize which teacher led interventions had a positive outcome on students oral fluency.  There were 4 categories: goal-setting, keywords, previewing, listening, and repeated reading; peer/pair tutoring, and phonological awareness.  The study had 290 participants, mostly male and white, some Title One, spanning grade levels 1-11.  Approximately half of this number were in first, second, and third grade. This found that goal-setting  had the most significant and long-term positive effect on oral fluency in reading.

This article will be useful with small group intervention strategies for reading fluency.  Goal-setting can be used for all groups and the other interventions such as previewing and rereading can be used for those students that are struggling to read.  According to this study phonological awareness was not significant in helping with oral fluency.  This may not be used with teacher-led activities if other studies relay the same outcomes.

Schwanenflugel et al., Becoming a fluent and automatic reader in the early elementary school years.  Reading Research Quarterly 41.4 (2006): 496-522.

This article is  a study  to determine two things; a model of factors that help 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders become fluent readers and determine if text fluency corresponds to reading comprehension.   It  was conducted  with  Title 1 students  in Georgia  and New Jersey during 7th and 8th month of school.   Students performed eight task; four  traditional and 4 computerized . This study found that once students are considered fluent in reading then reading comprehension is based on other factors.  It also showed that a simple reading fluency model where text reading fluency  is just one factor in teaching reading comprehension is more successful in early elementary.

This article identifies tasks that can help a classroom teacher understand what is hampering students becoming fluent readers.  It also points to creating a multi-dimensional reading instruction to increase fluency.  Finally, it recommends that once a child is considered fluent than fluency strategies can be eliminated from instruction.  This assists teachers in creating differentiated lessons for small groups.  Those students that need help with fluency would be working on phonological awareness programs and other fluency teacher based lessons while more fluent readers could be working on other reading comprehension strategies.



I found myself very reluctant to start this project.  I looked up research before and found it to be difficult to find appropriate texts and articles for the subject.  Google Docs and Albertson Library helped immensely.  I found that by changing the wording during the search I found many more articles than expected.  I chose to not include any before 2001 and I felt this would be less relevant to present day technology strides.   


The research, once started, was fascinating in that individualized technology support can increase struggling student fluency, as long as it supplements teacher led reading instruction.  I felt that after reading up on this subject, focusing on fluency was the important aspect when working with struggling third graders at the beginning of the year and that comprehension will get better with better fluency.  The research gave me some tools to evaluate students and strategies that could be used in small group settings. I would like to do more research to find appropriate software and how to incorporate these teacher led strategies into 20 minute small group lessons.


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