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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02625

Technology-based tools for English literacy intervention: Examining intervention grain size and individual differences

  • 1National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • 2Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Technology plays an increasingly important role in educational practice, including interventions for struggling learners (de Souza et al., 2018; Torgesen et al., 2010). This study focuses on the efficacy of tablet-based applications (See Word Reading, Grapholearn, and an experimental word-level program) for the purpose of supplementing early English literacy intervention with primary grade 1 and 2 children. The children were identified for learning support programs within Singaporean schools, which follow a bilingual policy, meaning children were learning reading in English plus an additional language. One hundred forty-seven children across seven schools participated (Mean age = 6.66). Within learning support classrooms, triplets of students matched on basic reading skills were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) phoneme-level, (2) rime-level, or (3) word-level focused interventions. All groups performed reading skills activities on iPads, across two phases over a 14-week period. Assessments for word reading accuracy and fluency, pseudoword decoding accuracy and fluency, and spelling were administered at four time points, pre- and post-intervention. Additional baseline measures were taken to assess individual differences in phonological awareness, orthographic awareness, general cognitive ability, statistical learning, and bilingual vocabulary knowledge. Mixed model analysis was conducted on the pre- to post-test measures across the two phases of the intervention (focused on accuracy then fluency). All groups made gains across the different literacy measures, while the phoneme-level intervention showed an advantage over the rime-level intervention, but not the word-level intervention, for decoding. There were also moderating effects of individual differences on outcomes. The general pattern of results showed an advantage of the word-level intervention for those with poorer phonological awareness for reading fluency; and a phoneme-level intervention advantage for those with poorer statistical learning ability. Children’s bilingual group (English plus Mandarin, English plus Malay, or English plus Tamil) also showed differential effects of the type of intervention (e.g., phoneme- or word-level) on different outcome measures. These results, along with data collected from the tablets during the intervention, suggest the need to examine the interplay between different types of technology-based interventions and individual differences in learning profiles.

Keywords: Struggling readers, Technology, intervention, statistical learning, phonological awareness

Received: 02 Aug 2019; Accepted: 07 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 OBrien, Begum and Onnis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Beth A. OBrien, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 637616, Singapore, obrienbeth1@gmail.com
Dr. Luca Onnis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 639798, Singapore, luca.onnis@unige.it