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Measures that matter: Facilitating literacy through targeted instruction and assistive technology
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3829-4169
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The acquisition of reading skills is one of the most important academic outcomes, as reading enables the individual to acquire knowledge and to actively take part in society. Despite research and educational progress, not all students develop their reading skills to a level that meet academic or societal demands. Study I in the dissertation aimed to demonstrate the relative importance of students developing adequate reading skills in order to succeed academically, and,thus to motivate interventions in order to counteract the negative impact of reduced reading performance. The overall aim of this dissertation was to explore two subsequent approaches for improving students’ possibilities to achieve a functioning literacy. The first approach focused on teachers’ use of reading assessment data and teaching recommendations in order to target instruction in classroom education involving all students (study II). The second approach focusedon the use of assistive reading and writing technology (primarily with text-to-speech, TTS, and speech-to-text, STT functions) for students with severe difficulties with reading (study III and IV). Study I was conducted as a follow-up study of an earlier project, in which grade 2 screening data of word decoding (N=1784) were run through a series of multiple regression analyses, in order to predict grade 9 grade marks and subject choices. Study II was conducted as a teacher intervention project within a larger reading educational project, in which participating grade 1-3 teachers (N=8) used the program features to strengthen reading instruction in classroom teaching. The teachers were interviewed in focus group meetings and their statements were analyzed using qualitative method. Study III and IV consisted of a six week assistive technology intervention (M=21 sessions) aimed to students with severe difficulties in reading from grade 4, grade 8 and from high school (N=146 participants before pretests). The intervention had a randomized control trial design with additional experimental elements, including pretests, posttests and one year follow up measurements, in addition to students, parents and teachers perceptions. The intervention was evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Study I demonstrated that students’ early reading skills predicted long-termacademic performance, meaning that low reading performers received lower grades and academic opportunities than students with higher assessed readingl evels. Study II showed that teachers could use assessment data and recommendationsin order for increasing their awareness of student learning, which influenced how they organized teaching. The impact of using the program for targeting needs in individual students, were, however, rather limited, and required further implementation of the program. Study III and IV showed that assistive technology can be used for assimilating(i.e., to read) and communicating (i.e., to write) text for students with severe difficulties in reading, which affected students’ motivation to engage with text, and their schoolwork in general. However, the extent students’ managed to use the technology varied and pointed to the need of teacher support to be able use the technology efficiently, as well as for further use in classroom education. Approximately 70 % of the students continued to use the technology after theintervention. Additional findings demonstrated the relative advantage of assistive technology in terms of increased reading speed and that students who used assistive technology did not fall behind equally impaired control students onreading measures, as assessed immediately after the intervention and after one year. In summary, this dissertation demonstrated how adjusted teaching, based on assessment data and recommendations, can be used to target individual needs in students, and how the use of assistive technology can be beneficial for students with severe difficulties in reading.

Abstract [sv]

Att lära sig att läsa är ett av de viktigaste målen i utbildningssystemet eftersom läsning möjliggör förvärvandet av kunskaper hos individer och att aktivt delta i samhällslivet. Trots forskning och framsteg i utbildningssystemet utvecklar inte alla elever läsfärdigheter i nivå med utbildningsmässiga och samhälleliga krav. Studie I syftade till att visa på den relativa betydelsen av att elever utvecklar adekvat läsförmåga för att lyckas akademiskt och att därigenom motivera interventioner i syfte att motverka den negativa inverkan av en nedsatt läsförmåga. Det övergripande syftet med avhandlingen var att utforska två metoder för att förbättra elevers möjligheter att utveckla en funktionell läs- och skrivkunnighet. Den första metoden fokuserade på lärares användning av bedömningar av läsfärdigheter och undervisningsrekommendationer för riktade undervisningsinsatser omfattande alla elever i klassrumsundervisningen (studie II). Den andra metoden fokuserade på användandet av assisterande läs- och skrivteknik (primärt med text-till-tal och tal-till-text funktioner) för elever i grava läs- ochskrivsvårigheter (studie III och IV). Studie I genomfördes som en uppföljningsstudie av ett tidigare projekt, i vilket screeningdata av ordavkodningsförmåga i andra klass (N=1784) analyserades i multipla regressionsanalyser för att predicera avgångsbetyg och ämnesval i årkurs 9. Studie II genomfördes som en lärarintervention inom ett större läsutbildningsprojekt, i vilket deltagande årskurs 1-3 lärare (N=8) använde programmet i syfte att stärka den ordinarie läsundervisningen. Lärarna intervjuades i fokusgruppsträffar och deras utsagor analyserades med kvalitativ metod. Studie III och IV utgjordes av en sex veckors assisterande teknikintervention (M=21 träningstillfällen) för elever med grava lässvårigheter i årskurs 4, 8 och i gymnasiet (N=146 deltagare före första mätningen). Interventionen hade en randomiserad kontrollgruppsdesign med ytterligare experimentella inslag, inklusive för-test, efter-test och ettårsuppföljning förutom datainsamling om elevers, föräldrars och lärares erfarenheter. Interventionen utvärderades både med kvantitativa och kvalitativa metoder. Studie I visade att elevers tidiga läsfärdigheter predicerade senare skolresultat,vilket innebar att elever med låga läsfärdigheter erhöll lägre betyg och utbildningsmässiga möjligheter än elever med högre läsfärdigheter. Således, fyndet motiverade att undersöka interventioner i syfte att motverka de negativa konsekvenserna av nedsatt läsförmåga. Studie II visade att lärare kunde använda bedömningsdata och rekommendationer, vilket resulterade i ökad medvetenhet hos lärarna om elevernas lärande och hur undervisningen organiserades. Inverkan av programanvändningen gällande riktade undervisningsinsatser, var, emellertid, ganska begränsat och krävde ytterligare implementering av programmet. Studie III och IV visade att assisterande teknik kan användas för att ta tillsig text (dvs., att läsa) och att kommunicera text (dvs., att skriva) för elever i grava lässvårigheter, vilket påverkade elevernas motivation att interagera med text och skolarbete generellt sett. Men, utsträckningen av elevernas användning av tekniken varierade och pekade mot betydelsen av lärarstöd för att använda tekniken effektivt, och för fortsatt användning i klassrumsundervisning. Uppskattningsvis fortsatte 70% av eleverna att använda tekniken efter interventionen.Ytterligare fynd påvisade den relativa fördelen av assisterande teknik gällande ökad läshastighet och att elever som använde tekniken inte verkade tappa läsfärdighetsnivåer i jämförelse med kontrolleleverna, undersökt omedelbart efter interventionen och efter ett år. Summerat, avhandlingen visade hur anpassad undervisning, baserat på bedömningsdata och rekommendationer, kan användas för riktade insatser gentemot elevers individuella behov och hur användandet av assisterande teknik kan vara välgörande för elever med grava lässvårigheter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2018. , p. 78
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 332
Keywords [en]
Targeted instruction, intervention, assistive technology, reading difficulties
Keywords [sv]
Riktad undervisningsinsats, intervention, assisterande teknik, lässvårigheter
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Social Sciences, Psychology; Education, Special Education; Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-79048ISBN: 978-91-88898-02-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88898-03-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-79048DiVA, id: diva2:1267757
Public defence
2018-11-30, Wicksell, Hus K, universitetsplatsen 1, Växjö, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-12-04 Created: 2018-12-03 Last updated: 2018-12-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Assistive technology applications for students with reading difficulties: special education teacher’s experiences and perceptions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assistive technology applications for students with reading difficulties: special education teacher’s experiences and perceptions
2018 (English)In: Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, ISSN 1748-3107, E-ISSN 1748-3115Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Reading and writing applications (with text-to-speech, TTS and speech-to-text, STT functions), used as assistive technology (AT) for students with reading difficulties are increasingly used in education, however, research has not sufficiently enough evaluated its potential. The purpose of this study was to explore how assistive reading and writing applications were perceived to function with regard to students’ possibilities to assimilate (i.e., “read”) and communicate (i.e., “write”) text.

Methods: Following a six-week app intervention, this follow-up survey contained 54 special education teachers’ perceptions of how the use of apps impacted student motivation, learning, and its usability in special education. A total of 59 students with reading difficulties from Grade 4, Grade 8 and from high school, were assessed. Analyses included quantitative and qualitative analyses of teachers’ responses and written material.

Results: The results showed individual differences in how teachers perceived app usage for text-interaction purposes, including how app usage affected student motivation and autonomy for text-based learning. Eighty-two per cent of the younger and forty-seven per cent of older students continued to use the technology after the intervention, but in various degrees.

Conclusions: Based on these findings, students with reading difficulties seem to be able to use AT in order to assimilate text (i.e., to read) and to communicate text (i.e., to write), and, thus, AT has the potential to promote participation in regular education. Future research should focus on how to customize assistive technology support in order to better utilize the potential.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018
Keywords
Reading difficulties, assistive technology, intervention, special education
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
Social Sciences, Psychology; Education, Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-77935 (URN)10.1080/17483107.2018.1499142 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-09-22 Created: 2018-09-22 Last updated: 2018-12-03Bibliographically approved
2. Early word decoding ability as a longitudinal predictor of academic performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Early word decoding ability as a longitudinal predictor of academic performance
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Psychology of Education, ISSN 0256-2928, E-ISSN 1878-5174, Vol. 31, no 2, p. 175-191Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study, using a longitudinal design with a cohort of young readers, investigates if children's early word decoding ability in Second Grade can predict later academic performance. In an effort to estimate the unique effect of early word decoding (GradeTwo) with academic performance (Grade Nine) gender and non-verbal cognitive ability were accounted for in hierarchical regression models. Results show that even after controlling for these factors word decoding successfully predicted marks in subjects as well as attendance in advanced courses and language classes. The authors conclude that children's early ability to decode words could be an important factor for predicting performance in school and, thus, stress the importance for schools to investigate children's early word decoding ability.

Keywords
word decoding, academic performance, early assessment, longitudinal study
National Category
Psychology Pedagogy
Research subject
Social Sciences, Psychology; Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-39556 (URN)10.1007/s10212-015-0258-5 (DOI)000372279000005 ()2-s2.0-84961137733 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2015-01-29 Created: 2015-01-29 Last updated: 2018-12-03Bibliographically approved

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Nordström, Thomas

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