KU Center for Research on Learning

KU Center for Research on Learning

High school student sitting at a desk, reading 'Lord of the Flies'.

Investigating Sound Effects

Study 2
The first study provided initial evidence that the use of color may provide meaningful support for struggling older readers trying to correctly identify vowel sounds. A second follow-up study evaluated Sound Effects in contrast with a widely used phonemic decoding program called Corrective Reading. Instead of teaching word parts (rimes), Corrective Reading teaches students to blend individual sounds (phonemes). Forty-seven middle school students reading below the 30th percentile on word-reading tasks were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Sound Effects, Corrective Reading, or a no-treatment control group. College students from a nearby university provided 15 hours of tutoring instruction during after-school hours in the school’s library.

Reading: After 15 hours of intervention, none of the groups exhibited any changes on measures related to reading (fluency, word reading fluency, and phonemic decoding efficiency). Because a medial vowel measurement tool is not in existence, it was not possible to measure students’ improvement in vowel pronunciations. Instead, changes in vowel awareness could only be measured indirectly through changes in spelling.

Spelling: At the end of the tutoring, students in both Sound Effects and Corrective Reading displayed significant differences in spelling as measured by the Spelling Sensitivity Metric (Masterson & Apel, 2010). None of the intervention groups exhibited changes in spelling on a traditional and less sensitive normed spelling measure (WRAT-spelling).
Reading Self-Concept: The Reading Self-Concept Scale was administered at pre- and post-testing. This measure includes an overall self-concept measure, as well as smaller scales that examine competence, difficulty, and attitude. The attitude scale revealed that students in the Corrective Reading program experienced less positive attitudes toward reading than the control and Sound Effects groups after 15 hours of instruction.

Social Acceptability: Intervention students also were asked to complete a survey about their attitudes toward their particular intervention. Students in the Sound Effects intervention indicated that they learned significantly more than the students in the Corrective Reading intervention. In addition, the survey asked which reading intervention they would prefer to participate in: Sound Effects, Corrective Reading, or Voyager Reading (provided by the school district). Eighty-six percent of Sound Effects students wanted to remain in Sound Effects, while half of the students tutored in Corrective Reading wanted to switch instructional methods and participate in Sound Effects.

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Examine the effects of Sound Effects on adolescent reading and study skills.

Carrie Mark, KUCRL doctoral fellow
Donald D. Deshler, KUCRL director


Study 1
Single-Case Design

Study 2
Group Design—Random Assignment

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