CCE Theses and Dissertations


Using Technology With Learning Disabled Readers: A Meta-Analysis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis

Committee Member

Ling Wang


The purpose of the meta-analysis was to provide elementary and secondary school educators with a single source that summarized the body of research, conducted from January 1995 to March 2006, on the effectiveness of using reading instruction technology with learning disabled (LD) students. Fifty-six effect sizes were synthesized from 17 studies to create 29 outcome distributions for analysis. The conclusion was that reading instruction technology had an overall positive effect on improving the reading skills of students who presented a disorder in their basic psychological process involving the understanding or use of the written language.

Six research investigations guided the meta-analysis: overall effectiveness, educational level, application, sound, reading sub-skills and time-on-task. The overall mean effect size was .576, which corresponded to an increase of 22 percentile points. Experimental groups from both elementary and secondary schools outperformed the control groups, but elementary students benefited the most. The drill and practice format and the gaming format both performed well with mean effect sizes of .761 and .592 respectively. There was no significant difference between the technologies that incorporated sold versus those that did not. Additionally, there was no significant difference based on the time-on task. Whether the instructional program was short or long in duration, reading instruction technology had a positive effect.

Instruction which focused on a particular reading sub-skill was more effective than instruction that divided its presentation between two or more sub-skills. The overall mean effect size for phonological awareness was .442, for fluency was .628 and for reading comprehension was .455. Although fluency instruction outperformed phonological awareness and reading comprehension instruction, it could not categorically be stated that fluency instruction was the most effective. It was the ability to combine all three subskills that created successful readers.

The most important implication was that educators should implement some form of reading instruction technology to help improve the reading skills of LD students. The experimental group participants consistently outperformed their peers. Research supported technology that used the gaming or the drill and practice format to deliver instruction for one reading sub-skill was most effective.

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