Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

James King.

Keywords

Childhood education, Computers, Developmentally appropriate computer use, Educational technology, Implementation integrity, Instructional research

Abstract

This investigation examined the effects of instruction, within the context of the Headsprout Reading Basics program, on the oral language and early reading skills of at-risk preschool students, and their teachers perceptions of the program. Random assignment was used in a pretest-posttest, control group design to assess the effects of this program. Thirty-one students, across two preschool settings, participated in the experimental group, and 31 students participated in the comparison group. The experimental group received instruction through the Headsprout Reading Basics program, which teaches the alphabetic principle, decoding strategies, print awareness, vocabulary, and deriving meaning from texts. The comparison group received instruction through Millies Math House, which teaches numbers, shapes, counting, sizes, patterns, quantities, sequences, addition, and subtraction. Daily instruction was provided for 30 minutes over a period of eight weeks.

Oral language skills were measured using the Test of Language Development-Primary: 3rd edition (TOLD-3) and early reading skills were measured using the Test of Early Reading Ability- 3rd edition (TERA-3). Teachers and teachers assistants perceptions of the Headsprout Reading Basics program also were assessed through analysis of their responses to a structured, open-ended interview. Results indicated that students who received instruction through the Headsprout Reading Basics program exhibited gains in oral language and early reading skills that were statistically higher than the students who did not receive this instruction. Effect sizes associated with these gains were found to be large. Examination of the effects of gender, and minutes of instruction received did not yield significant statistical differences.

Analysis of interview data indicated that the teachers and teachers assistants viewed Headsprout Reading Basics as a desirable way to increase the oral language and early reading skills of their students and would continue to use the program if given the opportunity. Implications for future research are discussed.

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