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The effects of a direct phonic approach in teaching reading with six moderately retarded children: Acquisition and mastery learning stages

Bracey, S.; Maggs, A.; Morath, P.
In response to the limited research related to reading with student with “mental retardation,” this study examined the effects of a direct phonic approach in teaching reading to six “moderately retarded” children. The goal of the study was not to compare reading methods, but rather to demonstrate that moderate to severely “retarded” children can learn to read using an effective phonic-based program in conjunction with appropriate reinforcement techniques. Six “moderately mentally retarded” students with IQs ranging from about 30 to 40, participated in the study. All were selected from the Marsden Hospital School in New South Wales, and had been institutionalized for a minimum of five years. Student ages ranged from seven to fourteen years. The students were instructed with the DISTAR Reading Level I program. In combination with the DISTAR program, teachers utilized a token reinforcement program. Students received pre and post-testing with the DISTAR Reading mastery tests. Results indicated that the students made significant improvements in three skill areas related to reading. All students demonstrated noteworthy gains in their ability to read words. Additionally, all students showed significant improvements in the associated skill areas of blending and sounds. The authors concluded that the results indicate that “moderately mentally retarded” children can be taught to read using a task-analyzed, structured phonic approach in combination with positive reinforcement techniques. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
DISTAR Reading, reinforcement techniques, blending
Slow Learning Child
Design type:
One group pretest-posttest
Fidelity monitored:
Students included:
Students with learning disabilities, “mentally retarded” students
Marsden Hospital School in New South Wales, classroom
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