Someone has to care: Computer-assisted instruction and struggling readers
Donald Richard Baker, University of Prince Edward Island , Canada
University of Prince Edward Island . Awarded
Over a three month period in a high school on Prince Edward Island, I conducted a study involving three volunteer, struggling readers and the computer-assisted reading instruction software program, Academy of Reading 2000. While my initial goal was to improve students' reading ability, I was hoping to explore the efficacy of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in a high school setting and to make recommendations regarding its use. What I learned indirectly from the literature on CAI and directly from my own experience with the students was that CAI can be a useful tool for struggling readers but it cannot replace one-on-one quality attention from a teacher. Although CAI was moderately effective, the human component in assisting struggling readers is vital. With adequate training and support, CAI can be considered an aid for teachers who have time to understand the complex literacy issues facing individual students with reading difficulties. The more I learned, from interviews with the three students and their parents, the more I was able to understand the context and possible alternatives for their reading challenges. It is the three stories of these students—one with a documented history of learning difficulties and assessments, one with an undocumented history of an inability to focus and severe reading difficulties, and one learning English as a second language who was apparently without reading difficulties—that will give teachers, parents, and students themselves insights into the difficulties of achieving success by using any one tool for reading intervention. What is needed most in the school system is someone who both cares and has the time to help the students make a difference in their learning.
Baker, D.R. Someone has to care: Computer-assisted instruction and struggling readers. Master's thesis, University of Prince Edward Island.
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