Purpose of This Document
The purpose of this document is to propose a research plan that will support my effort to solve the ethical problem of success in computerized reading interventions.
Present Status of the Problem
Reading challenges have existed for hundreds of years. In the late 19th century, doctors and educators found that some children with average or above-average IQs and normal vision and hearing had difficulties in learning to read. From that time period a quest to find the key to overcoming this barrier began.
Since the implementation of Common Core, the set of educational standards for the skills and knowledge that public school students should acquire in each grade between kindergarten and 12th grade, teachers and administrators are under so much pressure and scrutiny to prove that their schools and students are reaching targeted achievement goals. One of the Common Core benchmarks is around reading.
There is a reading range each student should attain at every grade level. For those students that fall below this acceptable reading level, interventions are put in place. The majority of these supplemental programs involve the student sitting at a computer and doing computerized exercises with no direct teacher support.
However, instructors are witnessing struggling students falling farther and farther behind. According to a study by the psychology department at the University of Hull, it has been found that individuals that have poor rates of literacy have a higher instance of unemployment, low pay wages, poorer health, and increased rates of incarceration (Horne, 2017). Therefore it is a priority for countries to educate their students to increase their likelihood of being productive members of society.
Teachers are continually looking for strategies to improve reading comprehension and fluency. Often struggling readers work with paraprofessionals in their district’s reading intervention programs. This is not typically the bet approach since paraprofessionals have the least expertise in working with the children. With there being a finite amount of time to devote to individualized instruction and instructor shortages, technology affords cash strapped school districts to provide low cost intensive individualized instruction and opportunities for repeated practice on the student’s level.
The ethical problem comes from affordable access to computer programs designed to improve reading comprehension being considered the educational norm to meet governmental requirements, however, many commercial programs are being used in classrooms without the empirical research to support their use (Horne, 2017).
Overview of Research into Solutions
Over the past 2 decades, there has been rapid growth of educational software. Unfortunately, much of the software development has been driven in terms of ‘what can be done’ versus ‘what should be’ developed. The needs and goals of the teachers and students are not heavily considered. The present data suggests an evident need to consult children more comprehensively in the development of effective interventions intended to improve their educational outcomes (Evans, Hallett, Rees, & Roberts, 2016). Many educational technology developers neither collect nor analyze empirical evidence or data related to the target population that will ultimately have to use these tools (Antonenko, Dawson, & Sahay, 2016).
The strategic pursuit of rapid and spectacular gains may lead to the loss of ethical care in the classroom (Bates, 2014). There are various programs available to educators. Thus far computer programs have been found to be a positive tool. However, according to the research done it has been found that technology itself is rarely an adequate solution. Jonathan Solity argues that “The single most significant change needed to create a climate for success requires that all those working in the education system assume that all children can learn and reach age –appropriate targets when
given the right teaching” (Solity,Deavers, Kerfoot, Crane, & Cannon, 2000, p. 56). Educators are now being trained to think in abstract terms to match student’s specific strengths and weaknesses when establishing goals. They are given directives that their success is measured on meeting targeted goals, progress measures, and standardized test scores. This places less importance on the students personal needs at a child in the classroom. They are reduced to objects to be categorized, railed through intervention classes, and primed for examinations (Bates, 2014).
Computerized tools reinforce opportunities for students to improve reading through intervention. Students are already familiar with using these devices in their daily lives. Our schools are becoming increasingly more diverse as we move to a global society. There are various factors that contributed to reasons why students fall behind in reading progress.
The needs of certain students simply are too great for the regular classroom teacher to manage alone and meet the needs of all students. Issues are often compounded as time progresses. Behavioral issues or apathy develops in the student. Research has found that success in reading improves a students’ attitude toward reading and modified the uncooperative behaviors that had developed out of their sense of being a failure. This resulted in the struggling reader being more motivated and engaged in the interventions.
Tinker believed that motivation to cooperate with the intervention was the key element in the success of differing approaches to reading interventions (Scammacca, Roberts, Cho, Williams, Roberts, Vaughn, & Carroll, 2014). As a result, school districts have to find innovative ways to meet the needs of its students. This is an important finding, because computers and mobile devices allow for independent learning tasks at the student’s own pace (Cumming, 2013).
This is also reducing the stigma for students who may have felt they were part of the “out-group”. In the past, computerized reading interventions were limited to certain workstations in the school. Today most customized supports are linked to a user profile and can be accessed from any machine with internet access. This technology advancement allows the struggling reader to not feel different and included since they are using the same devises as their friends and classmates.
The information for this research proposal will be gathered by means of secondary research. All scholarly journal articles are located in the Horace W. Sturgis Library at Kennesaw State University.
Based upon research up to this point, the best solution is a combination of silent reading, computerized reading intervention programs, repeated reading, vocabulary instruction, question and answering and immediate instructor feedback. This is not a dilemma that will be going away anytime soon. With governmental expectations to have an increasingly literate society, the requirements to meet yearly progress goals will continue.
Rigorous research on the programs and practices for computerized interventions is ongoing and needed to expand educators and administrators understanding of their effectiveness. In addition, teachers need adequate training. Teachers that have been provided with adequate training and development are confident and excited to help struggling readers use the resources and devices put in place.
Even though computerized reading interventions can be effective in improving reading skills, they are not a found to be a replacement for teachers who give support and inspiration to students with reading difficulties.
Because there is a need for assessments of computerized reading intervention software to solve the ethical problem of success in computerized reading interventions, I recommend the following solutions:
- Gather a team of educators, software developers, parents and student representatives at various grade levels and ask them to decide on a set of acceptable research‐based criteria and standards for reading intervention software.
- Train teachers who are to utilize reading intervention software on reading intervention software and required additional supports, which is a combination of silent reading, repeated reading, vocabulary instruction, question and answering and immediate instructor feedback for student success.
- Institute ongoing reading intervention progress-monitoring and protocols to ensure that computerized supports are built on evidence based research for success.
- For those students found to not be making adequate progress based upon the district standards, more intensive instruction and support is utilized on a more frequent basis.