Reading fluency in children of early primary-school-age: assessment and targeted instruction
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 01:56 authored by Joanne Elizabeth Fitzgibbon
Investigation of RAN (the ability to name quickly and accurately a set of visually presented, highly familiar symbols, such as colours, objects, digits or letters) has resulted in its emergence as an important predictor of children's reading abilities independent of letter-knowledge and phonological awareness (PA). The literature indicates that assessment including both PA and RAN allows for subtyping of beginning readers, in a manner which could assist education practitioners to design targeted instruction. Despite the established correlation of RAN with reading, this measure is underutilised in primary classrooms in Australia as an important indicator of reading development, and the basis of its association with reading continues to be debated. One aim of this research was to shed further light on the nature of the RAN - reading association through an examination of: (1) RAN's ability to predict reading independently of PA and letter - knowledge; and (2) the way in which the RAN - reading association varies according to the reading measures used and the nature of the RAN task in regard to the stimuli to be named and the direction of scanning. A third aim was to investigate a promising approach for enhancing reading fluency in early readers; namely, Repeated Reading (RR). A growing body of research suggests that RR might improve automaticity in reading and as a result text reading comprehension; but further evidence is required regarding the way in which RR might work. One possibility is that RR improves fluency by improving RAN. If so, both processes should respond to RR intervention, a third issue that was investigated in this thesis. The study was conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, 74 Australian children from grades 2 - 4 completed a range of standardised and non - standardised assessments to measure variables associated with successful early reading. Subgroups of children with selective deficits in PA or RAN were identified and compared in terms of reading performance; and the diagnostic value of various forms of the RAN task as an early indicator of reading difficulties was examined. Phase 2 of the study sought to compare the effectiveness of two types of RR treatment (single - words vs. passages of connected text), for a subgroup of 13 children who had average or below - average reading fluency despite word decoding skills within the typical range. A "no - treatment" control group comprised 7 additional participants. The findings of the research emphasize the importance of ensuring that the assessment battery we use to diagnose reading difficulties in our early primary - school - aged students incorporates all aspects of reading, including fluency. Whilst our findings indicate that implementing RR using single - words and passages does not lead to an improvement in RAN, gains in passage reading fluency makes this a worthwhile intervention for further investigation.