To compensate for fluency & decoding difficulties, students with dyslexia often receive audio-support.01 Jun 2023
The Impact of Audio-Support on Reading Comprehension
April 27, 2022
To compensate for fluency & decoding difficulties, students with dyslexia often receive audio-support. Identification & awareness of both the benefits and drawbacks of audio-support allows practitioners to: 1) raise students’ awareness of the impact audio-support may have on their reading behavior and 2) support active and optimal use of audio-support to increase reading efficiency. —Ashley Parnell
Reading Comprehension in Students with Dyslexia
Reading comprehension is fundamental to academic learning across all subject areas. Students with dyslexia read slower and less accurately than their peers without dyslexia, which can negatively impact reading comprehension. Furthermore, students with dyslexia tend to use fewer reading comprehension strategies, which also hinders their ability to interact with and understand the text.
To compensate for fluency & decoding difficulties, students with dyslexia often receive audio-support via narration of written text. “However, audio-support linearly guides readers from beginning to end through texts, possibly hindering the use of reading comprehension strategies in expository texts and negatively impacting reading time and reading comprehension performance.”
Examining Impact of Audio-Support
The current study sought to examine the effects of audio-support on reading comprehension strategies, reading times, and reading comprehension performance in 43 eighth grade students (21 students with dyslexia; 22 typically developing peers) from six schools across the Netherlands. Participants were provided with three types of assignments in each condition (written expository text with and without audio-support; an average of 349 words per text). Assignments were designed to encourage either intensive reading strategies (i.e., information from the whole text is needed) or selective reading strategies (i.e., information located in one specific paragraph) as noted below:
- Summarizing (intensive reading strategy): Fill in missing words in a summary.
- Open-ended questions (selective reading strategy): Provide examples based on information from text.
- Statement questions (selective reading strategy): Indicate whether the statement was true or false.
By measuring student eye movements during the texts and comparing those movements to the results of adult expert-readers, researchers identified the reading comprehension strategies as either intensive or selective. Of note, students were able to control the audio (e.g. pausing, repeating, skipping, & selecting) during the audio condition.
Findings & Implication for Practice
In conflict with previous research, decoding skills did not impact comprehension of the text. This finding and others are summarized below:
- Audio-support did not affect reading comprehension performance in any of the tasks for students with or without dyslexia, which “could partially be due to the difficulty level of some of the tasks.”
- Performance scores did not indicate differences in reading comprehension performance between students with or without dyslexia.
- Audio-support negatively affected the use of the selective reading strategy. In the open-ended assignments, students divided their attention more over the whole text instead of focusing on one specific part.
- Audio-support increased reading time in students with and without dyslexia.
While these results identify some potential disadvantages to audio-support (i.e., increased reading time and reading strategy for open-ended questions), audio-support can compensate for weak decoding and may support engagement, confidence, and stamina. Rather than discourage the use of audio-support, researchers suggest the following implications for practice:
- Raise students’ awareness of the impact audio-support may have on their reading behavior. Support and encourage active and optimal use of audio-support to increase reading efficiency.
- Provide explicit instruction on reading comprehension strategies & usage (i.e., when , why, and how) for all students (given that many participants with and without dyslexia failed to use the most efficient strategy).
Knoop-van Campen, C., Ter Doest, D., Verhoeven, L., & Segers, E. (2021). The effect of audio-support on strategy, time, and performance on reading comprehension in secondary school students with dyslexia. Annals of dyslexia, 10.1007/s11881-021-00246-w. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-021-00246-w
Summary by: Ashley M. Parnell — Ashley strives to apply the MARIO Framework to build evidence-based learning environments that support student engagement, empowerment and passion, and is working with a team of educators to grow and share this framework with other educators.