Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Using Experimental Analysis to Determine Interventions for Reading Fluency and Recalls of Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Using Experimental Analysis to Determine Interventions for Reading Fluency and Recalls of Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study assessed the efficacy of experimental analysis for determining a best intervention program for improving oral reading fluency for students with learning disabilities. Following a two-session baseline condition, four treatments to increase reading fluency (repeated reading, listening passage preview, repeated reading with easier material; and listening passage with easier materials) were administered in one session each for the purpose of briefly assessing which method was most effective for each student. The methods producing the highest response rate for each student were then subjected to an extended analysis. Finally, the best interventions for each student were implemented and their effectiveness was monitored across time. Functional relationships among the number of words read correct per minute and best intervention programs determined through brief experimental analysis were shown for all students in instructional passages. Generalized outcomes were consistent only when a reinforcement criterion for generalization was applied. Additionally, the best intervention program had an effect on the number of recalls for instructional passages. The results suggest that experimental analysis is an effective procedure for determining the comparative usefulness of instructional methods to increase oral reading fluency, especially within the context of a thorough educational assessment.


Many learners with disabilities are not proficient in reading. In fact, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services reports that 50% or more of students with disabilities (excluding speech and visual impairments) score at or below the 20th percentile on measures of reading (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Among children identified with learning disabilities (LD), an estimated 80-90% are referred for special education services because of reading problems (Kavale & Forness, 2000; Lyon & Moats, 1997). For these reasons, the type of instruction most likely to assist students with reading problems has become a major focus of research (National Reading Panel, 2000).

Learning to read is a complex process. Success involves decoding and comprehending text, and doing so quickly. Reading fast and effortlessly is known as fluency, and reading fluency is critical to being a successful reader because less fluent readers have poorer comprehension. Thus, fluency has been viewed as a bridge that readers must cross to get from word recognition to comprehension (Carnine, Silbert, Kameenui, & Tarver, 2004).

Researchers have worked towards unraveling the complexities of how reading fluency is developed and how it can be assessed. For example, the National Reading Panel (NRP) chose fluency as one of five topics for intensive study, signaling its importance in the reading process. The panel stated that instructional procedures that improve fluency also have a positive impact on word recognition and comprehension (NRP, 2000). Educators must take the lead to develop both accuracy and fluency. An emphasis on accuracy in early reading will help students develop habitual accuracy, which will in turn contribute to reading accurately without great effort (Carnine et al., 2004).

Strategies to Increase Oral Reading Fluency

Many skills lead to reading fluency (e.g., word attack, knowledge of vocabulary), and many strategies have been proposed to improve fluency. A number of them fall into two categories: academic teaching strategies and instructional planning (Daly, Martens, Kilmer, & Massie, 1996).

Academic teaching strategies. This category consists of strategies designed to determine how reading fluency is presented or taught, and has received considerable attention in the literature. They include repeated reading, guidance and feedback, reading time, and reinforcement. In repeated reading, learners practice reading one passage, at an appropriate instructional level, until some predetermined level of fluency is attained. …

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