Interventions According to research, reading challenges at the secondary level are considered more serious than reading challenges experienced at the primary level. However, training for reading fluency is largely seen as a task for primary school teachers, resulting in larger reading gaps for older students. More specifically, in their article, Barwasser et al. highlight that […]23 Nov 2023
Effects of a Peer-Tutorial Reading Intervention for Secondary Students With Learning Disabilities
June 23, 2023
According to research, reading challenges at the secondary level are considered more serious than reading challenges experienced at the primary level. However, training for reading fluency is largely seen as a task for primary school teachers, resulting in larger reading gaps for older students. More specifically, in their article, Barwasser et al. highlight that those students with learning disabilities (LD) and/or students with emotional behavioral disorders (EBD) may experience additional challenges related to reading, calling for an effective intervention that will help to address these concerns. This study seeks to answer the following question: Does an intervention consisting of peer-tutorial reading tracks with gamified components have a positive impact on the word recognition of struggling secondary school students with LD with or without EBD?
The Reading Experience Needs To Be Positively Transformed for Secondary School Students
Various strategies to support reading competency are cited in the article, including repeated word and sight word training, reading racetracks, and peer tutoring. All of these interventions were proven to offer benefits to students. However, the authors also argue that there “is an urgent need for motivational reinforcers to transform the reading experience into a more positive one for many students” given that many secondary school students with reading challenges lose motivation and often no longer find joy in reading. Group contingencies and self-monitoring are also mentioned as key components of successful interventions.
Secondary Students Can Benefit From Both Reading Interventions and Peer Tutoring
This study involved 16 students with LD and EBD in grades five through seven attending a low social-economic German urban special needs school in North Rhine-Westphalia. After taking a German reading screener, participants were assigned to tutoring pairs. The students with a lower Reading Quotient (< 79) were selected as tutees and those with a higher Reading Quotient (> 100) as tutors. All participants were native German speakers and diagnosed with either an LD or EBD. In total, the groups practiced the outlined interventions three times a week over 8 weeks. At the end of the intervention, progress was measured using a “PowerPoint presentation with a 30-slide word sequence, into which words that were to be read out for 1s each were visibly inserted with one word per slide (Ehri, 2005).”
According to the researchers, following the intervention, “participating students were asked to complete the social validity questionnaire anonymously. Overall, they rated the intervention very positively on all issues.” Furthermore, the results indicate that the reading racetrack intervention used in this study was proven to be effective in “improving students’ ability to automate the reading of trained words.” In addition, the results also suggest that secondary students can benefit from reading interventions, and that peer tutoring can be a useful tool in special education.
The Results May Vary for Students With Various Learning Needs
Despite the success of the intervention in this study, Barwasser et al. also recognize that this study was conducted with a small sample size, meaning that the results cannot be generalized to a large population. Additionally, the results of the intervention may vary depending on the specific learning needs of particular students, especially when considering the long-term effects of the strategies. While this can be seen as an effective intervention, the level of training for the tutors and the relationship between the tutor and tutee must also be considered.
“In phase B [of the intervention], a rapid increase in the number of correctly read words can be seen for all students, with some even showing a ceiling effect.”
“Since the intervention consisted of several components (reading from the racetrack, motivational components peer tutoring), it is not possible to identify the specific effects of
each element of the intervention. Therefore, it remains to be investigated in future research to what extent each of the components adds to the overall effectiveness.”
“It has been reported that students with behavioral issues have a higher risk of deficits in language compared to their peers without behavioral challenges, especially with respect to reading skills” (Benner et al., 2002; McCabe and Meller, 2004; Hilsmer et al., 2016).
All students deserve opportunities to develop their reading skills regardless of their age or grade level. As students progress into secondary school, the amount of reading required in school on a daily basis increases; however, this doesn’t mean that all students are fully equipped to read and understand the content successfully despite it often being an expectation. Therefore, providing reading instruction in secondary school can be extremely empowering for learners as they gain skills to support their success in secondary school, and for whatever lies after graduation. —Taryn McBrayne
Barwasser, A., Urton, K., & Grünke, M. (2021). Effects of a Peer-Tutorial Reading Racetrack on Word Fluency of Secondary Students With Learning Disabilities and Emotional Behavioral Disorders. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 671385. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.671385