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Katie Reddington

May 20, 2015


EDET 780
Critique 1
Shannon, L. C., Styers, M. K., Wilkerson, S. B., & Peery, E. (2015). Computer-assisted learning
in elementary reading: A randomized control trial. Computers In The Schools, 32(1), 2034.doi:10.1080/07380569.2014.969159. Retrieved May 15, 2015, from
http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.usca.edu:2048/doi/pdf/10.1080/07380569.2014.969159
Introduction
The purpose of this study was to determine how effective computer-assisted learning is on
elementary students and which programs specifically enhance learning. There have been a
number of studies conducted on this matter yet mixed reviews were found regarding the impact it
had on learning at the elementary level. The study was designed to focus on specific computerbased learning programs and examine the effects it had on reading performance.
The study was conducted based off of research from previous studies focusing on the effects of
the specific computer based program, Accelerated Reader (AR), can have on a middle-class
population of elementary students. Nineteen (19) teachers ranging from grade one to grade four,
were selected for this study and were randomly assigned to either the treatment or comparison
group. The 344 students that were selected for the study ranged from the 1st to the 4th grade and
were from schools in a Midwestern U.S. city. The students for this study were selected based on
previous research and were selected because of their economic status and ethnic background.
The treatment subjects in this study participated in practicing the use of the Accelerated Reading
program in daily reading instruction. The treatment teachers in this study were properly trained
on the AR program and were expected to implement it appropriately. They also had to share their
feedback on the use of the program and how often it was used in their classrooms. In addition,
the comparison teachers had to report they were not using any computer assisted programs in
their instruction. The treatment students practiced AR independent reading, goal setting,
monitored their own reading, and assessed comprehension through computer generated quizzes.
After conducting this study it was reported that teachers executed this program with at least 80%
fidelity and students successfully practiced computer-assisted learning, including the use of AR.
Teachers noted positive observations of students participating in this study. In comparing the
pretest of the STAR Reading results and posttest STAR Reading results for both treatment and
comparison groups, students participating in the AR program showed significant reading gains
than those in the comparison group.

Limitations of this study according to the researcher include the sample size studied and also the
student subgroups. This study did not include students from low socio-economic status nor did it
include students where English language proficiency was limited, or special education students.
The authors caution readers that if this study was conducted with different subgroups or in a
greater population the results may not be the same. Another limitation of this study includes the
use of teacher self-reporting their practices. Some may argue that this could lead to teachers not
being fully truthful and expanding their results. Finally, the research notes that this study may not
have had the same results if a different assessment would have been used other than STAR
Reading. Using an additional assessment could have portrayed contrasting results. This study
results in valuable information for educators. The researcher explained that when computerassisted learning is used with fidelity it has the potential to show positive outcomes in reading
achievement. When students are able to set goals, progress monitor their reading, and are
provided with appropriate feedback they are more aware of their own learning, thus show
significant gains.
To further continue research in this area I would conduct a study on a program similar to AR and
assess the outcomes using STAR Reading. There are a number of programs available for
educators and I would like to determine which program shows the most gains for students. For
example, there are two programs my school currently uses, Compass Odyssey and Achieve 3000
which have been proven to show significant gains in reading when used effectively. I would like
to conduct a study with one of these two programs to determine which shows the most successful
outcomes. In doing this I would also include a student survey to determine their motivation level
and engagement while using this program. I would like to see which program the students prefer
to use and why. In knowing this information I can provide the most beneficial instruction while
keeping student engagement high.
Critique
The authors of this study clearly present the focus of this study and the questions which they
address in the research. Both research questions that are presented are explained and answered
in the study that was conducted. Aspects of the design in determining teacher fidelity with the
program made me consider how accurate it truly was. In having the teachers report their own
findings I see areas where problems could potentially arise. I do believe, however, that
observations conducted by the researchers assisted in provided accurate results.
The review of the literature is well organized and provides appropriate citations to defend the
study. The authors present case studies that have been conducted in chronological order and the
implications of each of these. Utilizing this data from previous studies keeping the implications
in mind, the authors then developed their study and explained the rationale for the way they

conducted it.
The authors writing is appropriate to the target audience and well-articulated. It is easy to
follow and clearly explains the method used to conduct the study and also the results. The
material in this study applies to my own research because I have a desire to learn more about
technology improving reading achievement among elementary students. For my research topic I
want to focus more specifically on how personalized digital learning devices can improve
reading achievement among elementary students. It is very common in todays society to see
even elementary students with their own device. I want to learn, is this device more efficient
than traditional teaching styles?
It is evident in this report that much knowledge has been gained. The authors state significant
gains found in students when a computer-assisted program was implemented with fidelity. The
importance of having reading material that is in a students Zone of Proximal Development is
something that readers of this study would gain. When students are provided with proper
feedback and are able to monitor their own progress and therefore, their engagement is high. In
reading this study, it has been noted that when students take part in setting their own goals their
motivation level is much greater.
The authors do not clearly identify an instructional theory that is utilized in this research. In
reviewing the study however, I noticed the strong emphasis on students being in charge of their
own learning and monitoring their reading. This relates back to the constructivist theory, in
students constructing their knowledge through meaningful activities and instruction being more
student-centered. This study portrays the teacher as more of the facilitator in learning and
encourages children to track their own findings and apply their knowledge to hands on activities.
Having the student set personal goals, track their progress, and select books of interest to them
really pushes them to become a leader and responsible for their own learning.
Conclusion
I have been a 3rd grade teacher for two years now and each year there is a stronger emphasis on
technology in the classroom. It is very exciting to see all of the applications and programs
available for students to utilize to enhance their learning. So often I stop and reflect on which
programs are the most effective for students and if computer-assisted learning truly shows
positive impact among learners. With this in mind, I believe this study to be very useful for me.
It showed the importance of implementing a computer-assisted program with fidelity and the role
of both the teacher and the student. In reviewing this study I would like to implement in my
classroom a program similar to this, which encourages learners to monitor their own progress
and take part in setting their learning goals.

The school I am currently teaching at is a low socio-economic school with around 80% of the
children receiving free or reduced cost lunch. The findings from this study may not directly
apply to the students in my school due to such a diverse population consisting of many English
Language Learners. I would be interested to see how the results may vary if a similar study was
conducted.
I gained valuable information from the study conducted by these authors. It was a successful
computer-assisted program implemented with positive outcomes. I also gathered ideas that I can
take back into my own teaching, for it strongly correlates with my interests professionally. As
mentioned earlier, I would like to further continue with research on this topic. I would like to
examine additional programs similar to AR and see the impacts it has on reading achievement.
Essentially, I would like to determine the most appropriate and successful program in improving
reading instruction in the classroom.