Monday, February 9, 2015

Should Adolescents Go Back to Basics?

Laurice M. Joseph and Rebecca Schisler performed a metaanalysis of research related to secondary reading instruction to determine if word reading skills can be effectively taught. They reported their results in their article,  Should Adolescents Go Back to Basics? A Review of Teaching Word Reading Skills to Middle and High School Students, published in Remedial and Special Education, 30(3), 2009. Their article has a comprehensive chart summarizing the individual studies included in their research.

Overall their conclusion is that teaching word reading skills does result in improved reading outcomes. The programs that were analyzed had a larger impact on fluency than on comprehension. Explicit teaching of phonics and repeated reading were the strategies that were deemed most successful. Specific programs that were successful included Corrective Reading, Great Leaps, PALS, MULTILIT,and LANGUAGE! None of the studies examined long term results or provided different instruction in narrative and expository texts.

I work in a department that provides consultant teacher and reading support for students. One of the most requested reading interventions that we have is for Wilson Reading. Not a single study involved the Wilson program. While the Wilson program is an explicitly taught systematic phonics program, an approach that seems to be supported, there is very limited research behind its use. Of even more interest is the limited research available to support any particular program or methodology. If we want to determine the best interventions for older students, we need to practicing researchers and writers. We can report on our results, even if only in informal forms like blogs. Having more research can only help us get better at identifying the best way to help each student.

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