ABRACADABRA Aids Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Early Literacy in Australia: Evidence from a Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial

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computer-based instruction, early literacy, phonological awareness, indigenous populations, randomized experiment

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In many western countries, identifiable populations of children read below age-expectations, and the need for effective interventions remains pressing. Indigenous populations across the globe tend to have reading outcomes lower than comparative general populations. This is a critical issue in Australia's Northern Territory where Indigenous students are far less likely to meet minimum reading standards. There is some evidence to suggest that computer-based instruction may be of particular benefit to struggling readers. To redress reading disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, a multisite single-blind randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the ABRACADABRA web-based reading tool, http://abralite.concordia.ca, on reading, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness was conducted in Northern Territory, Australian primary schools with 164 intervention and 148 control (regular instruction) children. The total sample was 28% Indigenous. Results revealed that all intervention group students made significant gains in phonological awareness (d = .37) and phoneme-grapheme knowledge over control group peers (d = .37). Indigenous students gained significantly more per hour of instruction than non-Indigenous students in phonological awareness and early literacy skills. Results suggest that ABRACADABRA prevents lags in foundational literacy experienced by poor readers including Indigenous students.

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Computers & Education, v. 67, p. 250-264