Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Using Eye-Tracking Procedures to Evaluate Generalization Effects: Practicing Target Words during Repeated Readings within versus across Texts

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Using Eye-Tracking Procedures to Evaluate Generalization Effects: Practicing Target Words during Repeated Readings within versus across Texts

Article excerpt

Abstract. Repeated readings is a frequently studied and recommended intervention for improving reading fluency. Typically, researchers investigate generalization of repeated readings interventions by assessing students' accuracy and rate on researcher-developed high word overlap passages. Unfortunately, this methodology may mask intervention effects given that the dependent measure is reflective of time spent by students reading both practiced and unpracticed words. Eye-tracking procedures have the potential to overcome this limitation. The current study examined the eye movements of participants who were (a) not provided with any intervention (n = 28), (b) provided with repeated readings on a single passage containing a set of target words (n = 28), or (c) provided the opportunity to read four different passages each containing the same set of target words (n = 28). Students' reading of a novel passage containing the target words provides evidence to support recommendations that schools use repeated readings.

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Haring and Eaton's (1978) Instructional Hierarchy (IH) provides a framework for efficiently developing students' accuracy and fluency of academic skills and to generalize their responses across materials (Ardoin & Daly, 2007). According to the IH, students first must be provided with instruction that aids them in consistently responding to stimuli accurately, then instruction focuses on developing fluency in responding to stimuli. Specifically, instructors promote fluency by providing students with repeated practice and reinforcement for accurately responding to stimuli at an appropriate pace. Increased fluency suggests that stimuli have greater control over behavior. When stimulus control is strong, students are more likely to generalize skills and to apply what they learn to new situations. Generalization, however, does not always occur naturally; rather, teachers must assess and program for generalization by providing students with multiple exemplars of target stimuli in a variety of contexts (Stokes & Baer, 1977).

Recognition of the importance of developing students' fluency is not limited to the behavioral literature. Research in cognitive psychology suggests that reading fluency, or automaticity, is necessary for freeing up students' limited cognitive resources for higher order tasks such as reading comprehension (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974; Samuels, 1997). According to cognitive theory, lack of fluency in reading indicates students' inability to recognize words automatically. In contrast, high levels of fluency are indicative of students' ability to read words by sight (i.e., automatically), which enables them to focus on the meaning of the text that they are reading (Samuels & Flor, 1997). Thus, from both behavioral and cognitive standpoints, it is essential for students to develop fluency in order to read words with ease across text and to understand the meaning of the text that they are reading. In fact, past research from both behavioral and cognitive fields generated such extensive evidence documenting the importance of reading fluency that the National Reading Panel (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000) identified it as an essential component of effective reading instruction. Although fluency was defined by the National Reading Panel to also include prosody, a frequently forgotten component of fluency, the majority of the research resulting in reading fluency being recognized as essential to reading was based upon students' word reading accuracy and rate (Ardoin, Morena, Binder, & Foster, in press).

Researchers have applied the IH to improve students' reading skills (Ardoin, McCall, & Klubnik, 2007; Daly & Martens, 1994; Daly, Martens, Barnett, Witt, & Olson, 2007). Within these studies, researchers treat words as stimuli and implement intervention to ensure that students read words accurately and fluently in a single passage so that they can recognize and read the same words with high accuracy and rate across passages (indicating generalization). …

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