“Plugging  In?

”  
Does Audio Learning Enhance Skills and Attitudes in Students who find Reading Challenging? An action research project By Kat Freeman and Faye Elliot 2009

Background and Rationale
“Experts agree that reading aloud is the single most important activity for developing proficient reading skills. Reading aloud to young and older readers alike introduces new vocabulary and concepts, provides demonstrations of proficient reading, and allows young children access to stories that they are unable to read on their own or that they might not choose for themselves. Research has also shown that reading aloud with children provides the foundation for their development as readers.”1 Some children, for whatever reason, have missed out on the benefits and motivation provided by being read to. As a result their strategies to become independent readers are limited. Equally important these students also lack the motivation to want to read. We wanted to investigate what tools could be effective in enhancing reading attitudes and ability in students identified as finding reading challenging. The aim of this action research was to investigate whether reading could be enhanced through the use of audio books, DVDs and CDs. We surveyed students on the main components of a typical reading programme. Students were asked to rate these components as to their impact on their enjoyment of reading and on their perception of the improvement these made to their reading skills. Although explicit and targeted teaching of reading skills must remain the cornerstone of any classroom reading programme, intuition and experience have led us to believe that programmes that include the use of audio supports improve students’ reading proficiency and motivation. With this action research we were seeking feedback to confirm our belief in the importance of including these technologies in a well balanced reading programme.

1.

Audio Books and Literacy – An Educators Guide to Utilising Audio books in the Classroom by Dr Frank Serafini 2004

Research Method

Students used for this research were those who had been identified by teachers as needing extra reading support because they had achieved stanine four or less in the STAR reading assessment completed in classes at the beginning of the year. We also included students who rated their own attitude to reading and performance at reading as poor in the reading attitude survey as part of the AsTTle reading assessment completed at the beginning of the year. There were fourteen students from eight classes included in the research. These students fell into two groups, those identified as needing literacy support and those identified as having a “poor attitude” to reading whose reading needs were catered for in a typical classroom reading programme. We were already convinced of the benefits of including audio supports in our classroom reading programmes and have been doing so for some time. There was difficulty in collecting “before and after” data as the students involved in this research had already been exposed to audio support tools alongside components of a typical reading programme when this action research project was started. We decided therefore to gather data from the student voice via a survey (appendix 1). Students were surveyed on their perceptions of their improvement in reading and on which components of their reading programme they believed had led to this improvement. They were also asked to rate the components of their reading programme as to how much they enhanced their enjoyment of reading.

Research Findings

The students were asked to rate how much they thought they had improved in their reading skills this year. The table below shows the student responses.

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

0% 0% 7% 57% 36%     The students were asked to rate each of the following components of a typical reading programme as to how each had helped them to improve their reading skills this year.

1  
Not  at  all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite  a   lot  

5  
Lots  

Using School Library 7% 7% 50% 29% BOB reading in class 7% 14% 36% 7% Reading at Home 7% 43% 36% 0% Reading along with iPod 8% 8% 8% 38% Interactive Reading DVDs 0% 18% 18% 28% Reading with a buddy 28.5% 28.5% 28.5% 14.5% “Plugging In” School Journal CDs 0% 0% 25% 42% Guided Group Reading sessions with teacher 0% 0% 23% 54% Discussing books read with group/teacher 0% 21% 29% 43%     The students were asked to rate how much they had enjoyed their reading this year. table below shows the student responses.    

7% 36% 14% 38% 36% 0% 33% 23% 7% The

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

0%

7%

29%

43%

21%

The students were asked to rate each of the following components of a typical reading programme as to how each had helped them to enjoy their reading this year.

1  

2  

3  

4  

5  

Not  at  all  

Not   much  

A  bit  

Quite  a   lot  

Lots  

Using School Library BOB reading in class Reading at Home Reading along with iPod Interactive Reading DVDs Reading with a buddy “Plugging In” School Journal CDs Guided Group Reading sessions with teacher Discussing books read with group/teacher

7% 7% 7% 0% 0% 22% 0% 0% 0%

0% 7% 50% 16.5% 9% 22% 0% 0% 14%

57% 44% 21% 16.5% 27% 44% 42% 23% 36%

22% 21% 15% 25% 27% 12% 33% 62% 36%

14% 21% 7% 42% 37% 0% 25% 15% 14%

Six students in one classroom reading programme used iPods to read audio books during BOB reading sessions. In order to find out if these students rated “BOB reading in class” differently we have separated that component into those who had iPod support during this time and those who didn’t. This is shown in the table below. Effect on Improvement of Reading Skills: BOB reading in class (those with iPod support) BOB reading in class (those without iPod support)

1  
Not  at  all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite  a   lot  

5  
Lots  

0% 12.5%

0% 12.5%

0% 62.5%

33% 0%

67% 12.5%

Effect on Enjoyment in Reading: BOB reading in class (those with iPod support) BOB reading in class (those without iPod support)

1  
Not  at  all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite  a   lot  

5  
Lots  

0% 12.5%

0% 12.5%

17% 62.5%

17% 12.5%

66% 0%

Discussion

All students had a positive perception of their progress in reading this year. 93% rated their achievement as “quite a lot” or “lots”. The components of the reading programme rated most highly by students as to their effectiveness in improving reading skills were: 1. Guided Group Reading Sessions with teacher (77% rated as “quite a lot” or “lots”) 2. Reading along with iPod (76%) 3. “Plugging In” School Journal CDs (75%) 4. Interactive Reading DVDs (64%) 5. Discussing books read with group/teacher (50%) 6. BOB reading in class (43%) BOB reading in class is included in this list, but it is necessary to look at the break down of this data into those who had iPod support during this time and those who didn’t. All students with iPod support during BOB reading times rated it as “quite a lot” or “lots”. Only 12.5% of those without iPod support during BOB reading times rated it as “quite a lot” or “lots”. Most students enjoyed their reading this year. 64% rated their enjoyment as “quite a lot” or “lots”. The components of the reading programme rated most highly by students as to their enjoyment were: 1. Guided Group Reading Sessions with teacher (77% rated as “quite a lot” or “lots”) 2. Reading along with Ipod (67%) 3. Interactive Reading DVDs (64%) 4. “Plugging In” School Journal CDs (58%) 5. Discussing books read with group/teacher (50%) 6. BOB reading in class (42%) BOB reading in class is included in this list, but it is again necessary to look at the break down of this data into those who had iPod support during this time and those who didn’t. 83% of those with iPod support during BOB reading times rated it as “quite a lot” or “lots” while only 12.5% of those without iPod support during BOB reading times rated it as “quite a lot” or “lots”. During this research we generalised about a typical classroom reading programme, but it is important to note that the participants in our study came from eight classes and there were differences between programmes delivered. Also students in all classes were not given access to iPods to support their reading. The data collected in this survey is of student perception of their improvement in reading skills and motivation. It would be useful to back this up with actual achievement data, but unfortunately time constraints meant that was not feasible. We intend to compare the February STAR assessment data to the November data to confirm our results.

Conclusion

This research has confirmed for us that explicit and targeted teaching of reading skills must remain the cornerstone of any classroom reading programme. It is encouraging that students rated this as the most effective component of their reading programme and the most enjoyable. The research also confirmed our belief that audio supports are important tools in improving proficiency and motivation in reading. Students who had access to audio supports as part of their reading programme reinforced that these components were highly effective and motivating. We hope that teachers will now be encouraged to think outside of the traditional approaches to the teaching of reading. Incorporating audio technology into the classroom reading programme is successful in providing a way for students to improve proficiency in reading, access quality literature and enjoy books.

References
Serafin, F. (2004). Audio Books and Literacy. An Educators Guide to Utilising Audio books in the Classroom. Random House

Varley, P. (2002). Ad good as reading? Kids and the audiobook revolution. The Horn Book Magazine, 251 – 262

Appendix  1:  

What  has  helped  you  to  be  a  better  reader  this   year?  
 

 

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

How  much  do  you  think  you  have  improved  in  your             reading  skills  this  year?     Rate  the  following  as  to  how  each  has  helped  you  to  improve  your  reading  skills  this   year.    

 
Using  School  Library   BOB  reading  in  class   Reading  at  Home   Reading  along  with  iPod   Interactive  Reading  DVDs   Reading  with  a  buddy   “Plugging  In”  School  Journal  CDs   Guided  Group  Reading  sessions  with  teacher   Discussing  books  read  with  group/teacher   Other  (please  name)                        

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

                   

                   

                   

                   

 
How  much  have  you  have  enjoyed  your  reading  this   year?  
 

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

 

 

 

 

 

Rate  the  following  as  to  how  each  has  helped  you  to  enjoy  your  reading  this  year.  

 
Using  School  Library   BOB  reading  in  class   Reading  at  Home   Reading  along  with  iPod   Interactive  Reading  DVDs   Reading  with  a  buddy   “Plugging  In”  School  Journal  CDs   Guided  Group  Reading  sessions  with  teacher   Discussing  books  read  with  group/teacher   Other  (please  name)                      

1  
Not  at   all  

2  
Not   much  

3  
A  bit  

4  
Quite   a  lot  

5  
Lots  

                   

                   

                   

                   

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