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Running Head: CHILD STUDY

SCED 499 Child Study


Jennifer Stanley
Towson University

CHILD STUDY
Research
Article #1:
Melekoglu, M. (2011). Impact of motivation to read on reading gains for struggling readers
with and without learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(4), 248-261.

The article begins by providing statistics which detail the challenges faced by
students with LD. For example, approximately one third of adolescents with LD (32.7%)
pursue some type of postsecondary education (e.g., vocational or technical schools,
community colleges), but only 9.7% of high school graduates with LD enroll in a 4-year
college (249). Immediately, the reader understands that students with LD often fall behind
their peers academically and need further supports in the classroom to be able to perform at
the same level. This claim is supported by evidence which claims that, Since many youth
with LD manifest significant problems with receptive and expressive oral language, those
students lag further behind in terms of vocabulary repertoire, knowledge of specific academic
contents, coordinating and recalling meanings of wordsself-awareness, ability to manage
their problem-solving skills, and capacity to lead, regulate, and direct their academic
achievements (249). In order to decode the disparities between LD and non-LD students as
well as the connections between reading motivation and low reading comprehension of
students with LD, the author implemented a study which sought to expose students to a
structured, research-based reading program that was implemented 5 days a week (249). This
program, called READ 180, combined the use of large-group, small-group and computerassisted instruction during daily reading classes in grades 4-12 in 90-minute time blocks.
During the whole-group instructional period, teachers would engage students in various
activities, such as vocabulary instruction, modeling reading strategies, and read-alouds. In
small groups, students would have the opportunity to discuss and practice these strategies
with partners. While the author found significant changes in student achievement through the

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implementation of this model after 18 weeks (the results indicated that students with LD had
an average gain of 169.92 Lexile scores), the survey designed by the author did not note any
significant change in student motivation before and after the READ 180 program. The survey,
which assessed self-concept as a reader and the value placed on reading, corroborate[d]
others findings that since students with LD experience serious comprehension difficulties
while reading (Denton & Vaughn, 2008; Newman, 2006), they exhibit low motivation to read
(255). While the students had quantifiably improved their reading comprehension abilities,
the author speculates that the reason behind the low improvements in reading motivation of
participating students with LD might have been their continuous difficulties with reading and
below grade-level reading performanceAs youth with LD develop their reading skills and
start to read at or above grade level, their motivation to read may also improve accordingly
(255). While the author did not provide any potential solutions for increasing student reading
motivation, the techniques utilized did inspire growth in terms of reading comprehension
abilities.

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Article #2:
Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S., Williams, J. P., & Baker, S. (2001). Teaching reading
comprehension strategies to students with learning disabilities: A review of research.
Review of Educational Research, 71(2), 279-320.
The beginning of this article reviews factors which are crucial for reading
comprehension: (a) knowledge of text structure, (b) vocabulary knowledge, (c) using
background knowledge while reading, (d) the role of fluent reading in comprehension, and (e)
the importance of task persistence (281). In order to promote the learning of students with
LD, specifically with regard to reading comprehension, the authors believe that building
reading fluency skills are essential to achieve low-level processes, such as word recognition,
in order to advocate for the higher-level processing involved in overall comprehension.
Additionally, the authors claim that influences such as motivation and persistence can greatly
impact performance in all academic areas and are clearly related to students' developing a
sense of failure and frustration in the presence of academic tasks (287). Therefore, in order
to support such students task persistence efforts and to prevent them from developing a sense
of learned helplessness, teachers should be able to use some of the following techniques in
the classroom (specifically with regard to decoding narratives and expository texts):
implementing acronym-based reading strategies, metacognitive modeling, and Peer-Assisted
Learning Strategies (PALS). One of the acronym systems which helps develop reading
comprehension explained in the article (with reference to narrative texts) is TELLS (T)
study story titles; (E) examine and skim pages for clues as to what stories are about; (L) look
for important words; (L) look for difficult words; (S) think about the story settings and decide
whether stories are fact or fiction (290). By inserting anomalous sentences into pre-written
texts and asking students about the flow of the text, students can begin to think about the
properties of a narrative while also demonstrating the ability to understand and comprehend

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the text. Of course, this approach must first be modeled metacognitively by the teacher. Other
activities, such as PALS, can be implemented with partners or in small groups. This way,
students without LD can assist those with LD by participating in partner reading, paragraph
summaries, prediction, and other such activities to strengthen reading comprehension.
Regardless of whether the text provided is narrative or expository in nature, the authors claim
that the paramount approach for teaching reading strategies to students with LD is providing
students with teacher modeling, carefully structured practice opportunities, and systematic
fading of teacher support and monitoring of student mastery (303). This way, the students
are not reliable on a particular source of information and can apply the knowledge theyve
learned in their own way. Providing extensive feedback to students also ensures that they
learn the processes behind certain material and incorporate such strategies into their reading
(307). In all, the authors cite diverse opportunities for application and a structured support
system as the keys behind teaching reading strategies to students with LD.

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Reflection:
The student I chose to observe was recommended by my mentor because she was one
of two students he has with an IEP. According to her cumulative folder, she was diagnosed
with a learning disability in 2nd grade, which includes difficulty in comprehending text
(especially longer texts), auditory attention, short and long-term memory retention, and
phonological processing. Therefore, she may have difficulty with written expression, reading
fluency, and basic reading skills. Outside of these struggles, however, the student also appears
to have a lack of motivation to complete schoolwork and to pursue a career path. While she
has claimed on interest surveys that she would like to be a food scientist and either attend a
2-year or 4-year college, she is not following through with the processes needed to achieve
these goals. According to the IEP Chair, she started applications for dual enrollment at a local
college last year and was initially very excited about the process. However, she did not
submit her paperwork, possibly due to the influence of her mother. While the student
struggles with participation efforts in most classes, she enjoys numbers and performs well in
math. Additionally, she is very active outside of the classroom, having a passion for the
schools SADD club as well as dance practice, which she has been attending since she was a
young girl. Her socioeconomic status is rather low compared to her peers, she at one point
applied for FARM, but her dad was told that he made just over the threshold, and she would
be the a first-generation college student if accepted and motivated enough to attend a
collegiate program. As noted by her culinary teacher, however, the student often dyes her hair
and does not present herself in a professional manner that is necessary to obtain food
experience jobs that will help her to complete the service hours necessary to graduate in the
spring. Although the student realizes that she needs to change her behavior and appearance,
she continually ignores this fact and puts her academic future in jeopardy. When I observed
the student in different classroom environments, I noticed a few behaviors which kept arising,

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including an absence of motivation (work not completed, goes on cellphone, stares at desk,
etc.), difficulty making eye contact with others to show that she is listening and
comprehending auditory tasks, and her reluctant to work in groups (only seeks out one friend
to talk with during class). Some of the factors which I believed influenced her behavior and
academic performance the most were: (1) her difficulty with reading comprehension
(especially complex texts), (2) personal life (possible emotional struggles at home), (3) lack
of motivation in academic areas, and (4) absence of short and long-term goal-setting.
According to my discussion with the IEP Chair/Case Manager for my particular
student, there are several potential reasons as to what is impacting the students low
performance. While she is still outperforming some of her peers, her lack of motivation and
goal planning is directly impacting her options after high school; if she does not want to
pursue college, she still needs to change her appearance and behavior in order to work in
most areas of the food service industry (apart from fast-food and other such chains). Although
the student does struggle with reading and auditory comprehension, the IEP Chair focused on
her work ethic as a cognitive need. As for emotional needs, she addressed the students home
life and claimed that as a [prospective] first-generation college student, homework may not
be seen as a priority in the household. The students source of extrinsic motivation, via her
parents (whether through praise or simple acceptance), may not be substantial if she decides
to attend college. This will surely impact her lack of motivation even more and she may
continue to struggle with her academics. Although the student is often obligated to taking
care of her younger sister at home, the IEP Chair also claimed that she was concerned about
the maturity of the student and believed that when she speaks with the student about
something she enjoys (i.e. dance), the student reverts to an elementary school way of
speaking and that it doesnt feel like she is talking with a 17-year old girl. While physical
needs again focused on the students appearance in relation to completing culinary service

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hours, the social needs of the student were raised by the student herself in a yearly
questionnaire. Each year she attended high school, the student wrote that an area she needed
to improve in was group situations. I can attest to almost all of these struggles through my
observations of the student in the classroom. First and foremost, I immediately observed a
lack of motivation to complete work during lessons. Oftentimes, the student would stare at
her desk, draw, or go on her phone as a way to avoid work. While I could not directly observe
her interactions with family members, I would frequently notice a blank look on the students
face, as if she were a little distant, which could be an influence of emotional conflict that
she is ruminating about. While her physical appearance is not different from some of her
peers (she simply dyes her hair and wears comfortable clothing, such as t-shirts), she often
seeks out friends who are a little more extreme in their choices. The one friend whom she
talks with during my mentors class as well as her culinary class often dresses in all black,
has her hair dyed, and wears a lot of metal band t-shirts. Socially, I have often noticed her
reluctance to participate in group work, too. While my mentor does not often assign group
work, she does not communicate with those at her table when there are group work
opportunities. Instead, she keeps to herself and repeats some of the behaviors described above.
The articles I chose to research dealt with the correlation between reading
comprehension difficulties and a lack of intrinsic motivation and a description of reading
comprehension strategies for students with LD. While I knew that the student was largely
having difficulty with reading comprehension in my mentors classroom (especially for
longer or more difficult texts), I also wanted to try and find some research dealing with a lack
of motivation in the classroom. While the first article implemented a reading strategy
program in order to analyze the academic growth of students with LD (via acquired Lexile
scores and a survey for reading motivation), the program only proved a loose correlation
between motivation and reading comprehension for such students. Although the students

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Lexile scores did rise and their reading comprehension abilities increased through the
program, motivation results were largely stagnant (perhaps due to the survey format or the
process by which the study was conducted). Therefore, I did not learn much about the link
between the two concepts. However, through both articles, I did take note of particular
strategies which I could implement in the classroom in order to promote the reading
comprehension of both students with LD and students without LD.
According to the IEP Chair and the professional articles I have read, there are a
plethora of strategies I could use in the classroom in order to build my students reading
comprehension skills (regardless of their status with or without LD). For example, the articles
referenced Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS), which could pair up students of various
comprehension levels in order to promote partner-based reading, paragraph summaries,
prediction, and other such activities vital in determining the meaning of any text. Small group
work tends to keep students more engages in an assignment, as they have someone to bounce
ideas off of and someone to help them when they might be struggling to understand a
particular concept. Additionally, teacher modeling and structured practice opportunities
greatly help with comprehension. For example, modeling constructing sentences to get
students thinking about the importance of syntax, and then providing them with opportunities
to construct their own sentences, can be very helpful in understanding how to reword ideas or
elaborate. As for the advice the IEP Chair gave to me about my particular student, a lot of the
suggestions promoted Multiple Means of Representation (e.g. using multi-sensory teaching
with verbal and written examples accessible to students, chunking difficult or long texts,
providing graphic organizers to develop thought processes, and preparing supplementary
materials for a particular text such as a list of vocabulary words or concepts that the student
should know). Additionally, she advised me to promote that I am available for help at any
time during class and to provide the student with reminders about completing her work

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assignments (i.e. Where are you on (assignment x)?). I believe that these approaches, with
slight modification, can be transferrable to my other students as well and can better promote
their learning in my classroom.
This child study helped me to realize the importance of understanding my students
not only as learners, but as individuals. I came to see how personal lives and interests greatly
influence a students academic performance in the classroom and have learned that
sometimes all you have to do is show the student that you care about their well-being in order
to provide them with some motivation (as I did at one point with this student and now she is
paying more attention to me when I teach lesson segments). In my future work as a teacher, I
aspire to use aspects of this child study to influence my everyday teaching. By collecting data
on my students (i.e. their strengths and weaknesses, their hobbies, their personal lives), I can
attempt to fit my instruction to their needs and interests. Additionally, I can identify how and
why a particular student might be struggling and, therefore, can try my best to address their
needs. After all, Maslow suggested that students basic needs must be met before students can
truly participate in higher-order needs, such as educational participation. Seeing students
outside of my classroom, talking with other professionals, and looking at cumulative files can
truly impact my understanding of that students behavior (whether certain elements are
consistent or not) and might provide me with the information I need to learn how to address
that students needs in the classroom. In all, Ive learned that I must utilize data other than
test scores to influence my understanding of my students and what supports I believe they
will need in order to learn most effectively.