The Effects of Computer-Assisted Instruction Using Kurzweil 3000 on Sight Word Acquisition for Students with Mild Disabilities

By Cullen, Jennifer; Keesey, Sue et al. | Education & Treatment of Children, May 2013 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Computer-Assisted Instruction Using Kurzweil 3000 on Sight Word Acquisition for Students with Mild Disabilities


Cullen, Jennifer, Keesey, Sue, Alber-Morgan, Sheila R., Wheaton, Joe, Education & Treatment of Children


Abstract

This study was designed to examine the effects of a computer-assisted instruction program on the acquisition of sight words for four African American fourth graders with mild disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, and ADHD). Computer-assisted instruction using the Kurzweil 3000 text to speech program included the following practice activities: typing target sight words, highlighting spoken words on the computer screen, reading and saying sight words into a microphone, and completing a cloze passage. A multiple baseline design across word sets demonstrated that computer practice using Kurzweil 3000 was functionally related to increased sight word recognition. All four students mastered the target sight words within two to seven 20 to 25-minute sessions. Additionally, three students demonstrated maintenance of the sight words they acquired up to four weeks after the computer intervention was discontinued.

Many students with disabilities experience persistent reading failure throughout school and into adulthood. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2011), 68% of fourth graders receiving special education services scored below basic on the National Assessment for Educational Progress reading test, 32% scored at or above basic, and only 13% scored at or above proficient. Reading failure can be attributed to deficits in sight word recognition, decoding skills, reading fluency, and comprehension. Many students who struggle with fluency and comprehension tend to have inadequate sight-word vocabularies (Ehri, 2005; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins, 2001; Tompkins, 2006).

Sight words account for more than half of the words students will be required to read (Tompkins, 2006). In order to read fluently, students must be able to decode these high frequency words automatically (McCormick, 2007). Students with sizeable sight word vocabularies read more fluently than those with sight word deficiencies. Improving the sight word vocabulary of students with disabilities leads to improvement in both fluency and comprehension (Fuchs et al., 2001). Effective sight word interventions incorporate high rates of active student responding (ASR) with immediate feedback for each response. Computer programs are ideal for independent sight word practice because they allow for frequent response opportunities, immediate feedback, and individualized instruction.

Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) has been demonstrated to be effective for increasing sight word recognition (Chambers, Abrami, McWhaw, & Therrien, 2001; Englert, Zhao, Collings, & Romig, 2005; Irausquin, Drent, & Verhoeven, 2005; Lee & Vail, 2005). Coleman-Martin, Heller, Cihak, and Irvine (2005) demonstrated that CAI was as effective as teacher directed instruction for three students with moderate to severe reading deficits who were learning new sight words. Similarly, Mechling, Gast, and Krupa (2007) used CAI to teach 27 grocery words to three students with moderate intellectual disabilities. Starting with 0.0% correct during baseline, the students increased their recognition of the target sight words to 70.3%, 85.2%, and 100% correct during intervention.

These positive findings are supported by Lee and Vail (2005) and Englert et al. (2005) who also used computerized interventions to teach sight words to struggling young readers. Lee and Vail (2005) used a multiple baseline across word sets design to examine the effects of a teacher created multimedia program for four elementary students with learning and cognitive disabilities. Students were directed to click on the correct sight word from four choices. For incorrect responses, the program provided feedback and a prompt to try again. However, Lee and Vail (2005) reported in the discussion that while the program was effective, students struggled to maintain interest because there was only one computer activity. …

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