Effects of Supplemental Computer-Assisted Reciprocal Peer Tutoring on Kindergarteners' Phoneme Segmentation Fluency

By Wood, Charles L.; Mustian, April L. et al. | Education & Treatment of Children, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Effects of Supplemental Computer-Assisted Reciprocal Peer Tutoring on Kindergarteners' Phoneme Segmentation Fluency


Wood, Charles L., Mustian, April L., Lo, Ya-yu, Education & Treatment of Children


Abstract

Phonemic awareness is a critical early reading skill that gives students a strong foundation for beginning reading. Without effective interventions or supplements to core reading programs, many students fail to acquire these skills. The present study examined the effects of using computer-assisted peer tutoring to supplement kindergarten students' instruction in phonemic awareness. Results of the study indicate three of the four participants made substantial gains in phoneme segmentation fluency. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Peer Tutoring, Computer-Assisted Instruction, Phonemic Awareness

Reading is a fundamental skill that influences almost every other area of learning. When children become efficient readers early, they are much more likely to experience better educational outcomes throughout their school years (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001; Bursuck & Damer, 2011). Unfortunately, millions of children in the United States are left behind due to early reading failure; and for whom, the adverse effects can last a lifetime. For these children, early identification and effective interventions in reading become critical in setting the precedent for successful outcomes.

In order to pinpoint key skills and effective methods central to reading achievement, the National Reading Panel (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHHD], 2000) examined over 100,000 studies on reading components and interventions and identified five essential areas of reading instruction for all children. The five areas were phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Within these five areas, phonemic awareness is considered a foundational skill. Bursuck and Darner (2011) define phonemic awareness as "the ability to hear and manipulate the smallest units of sound in spoken language" (p. 6). Competency in phonemic awareness improves a child's ability to read and spell; whereas deficits in phonemic awareness can impact overall reading achievement (Armbruster et al., 2001; Ball & Blachman, 1991; NICHHD, 2000; Weiner, 1994). Effective phonemic awareness instruction that focuses on having children think about and manipulate individual sounds in spoken language is indisputably important and should be a part of the core reading program.

Unfortunately, as many as 20% to 30% of students will require additional reading instruction to supplement and enhance the core reading program (Reschly, 2005; Vaughn & Roberts, 2007). Within the response to intervention multi-tiered framework, these are the students who are identified with reading difficulties, who have not responded to the Tier 1 core reading instruction, and who are in need of "catching up" with their peers through a supplemental, secondary intervention (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2005). In phonemic awareness instruction at the Tier 2 secondary instructional level, Vaughn and Roberts (2007) offered three guidelines of instruction to support at-risk students by (a) teaching phonemic awareness early, (b) ensuring the instruction is fun and engaging for students, and (c) assessing students' phonemic awareness skills frequently.

One empirically validated method of providing the needed supplemental instruction to students who are academically at risk is peer tutoring (Heron, Villareal, Yao, Christianson, & Heron, 2006; Maheady, Mallette, & Harper, 2006). Peer tutoring does not consume a substantial amount of teacher time, and can provide students with frequent opportunities to practice targeted skills (Heron et al., 2006). Additionally, reciprocal peer tutoring allows both students with similar academic needs to receive "double doses" of practice as both tutors and tutees, and therefore can be especially beneficial for at-risk readers. However, one challenge for peer tutoring is that the tutor needs to be able to present the task accurately to the tutee and have the correct response available in order to provide accurate feedback (Wood, Mackiewicz, Van Norman, & Cooke, 2007). …

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