Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Ismahan Arslan-Ari

Abstract

Third-grade students with learning disabilities struggle to meet reading proficiency levels at both the national and local levels. The appropriate support, services, and instruction of students with learning disabilities can help them achieve reading proficiency. Specific educational laws have been implemented to enable students with learning disabilities to use assistive technologies such as text-to-speech tools to support their reading. The purpose of this action research study was to evaluate the impact of a text-to-speech tool—the C-Pen—on the reading skills of third-grade students with learning disabilities at an elementary/middle school. The focus of this study was on three main research questions and three sub-questions. The first question was designed to explore how the use of the C-Pen affected the reading of students with learning disabilities, with sub-questions to explore how providing the C-Pen affected the students’ reading level, comprehension, and oral reading fluency. The second question was used to explore the perceptions of third-grade students with learning disabilities toward the use of the C-Pen to support their reading, and the third question was used to explore the third-grade teacher’s perception of the C-Pen in supporting the reading of students with learning disabilities.

This action research study involved an innovation in which the C-Pen was provided to third-grade students with learning disabilities for 6 weeks in their general education classroom to support their reading. Data collection consisted of a standardized pretest and posttest using the Developmental Reading Assessment-2, classroom observations, a teacher interview, and student interviews. Data were analyzed using a convergent parallel mixed methods design. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data were analyzed using inductive analysis. Two themes emerged from the student interview data: the C-Pen allowed the students to develop reading skills that they could not develop without the C-Pen, and students demonstrated mixed perceptions about using the C-Pen to read. The teacher interview revealed two themes: the C-Pen had a positive impact on students’ reading, and the teacher expressed positive perceptions about the C-Pen. The findings of this study show the implementation of the C-Pen had a positive impact on student reading level, comprehension, and oral reading fluency.

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