LMSVEF Grantee Research Proposal: Do E-readers increase students’ engagement in reading?

By Debra Sands

    LMSVEF Grantee Research Proposal: Do E-readers increase students’ engagement in reading?

    About the Practitioner-Researcher

    Debra Sands
    La Mesa, CA
    Debra Sands

    I serve students in Grades 4-8 at the La Mesa Arts Academy (LMAAC) in the La Mesa-Spring Valley (LMSV) School District. As I have two masters’ degrees, one in Teaching and one in School Counseling, my experience in education has been in two domains. I have worked in the LMSV school district for 25 years as a middle school teacher, school counselor, and intervention teacher. Prior to working at LMAAC, I taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts, 7th grade Social Studies, Drama, Advancement Via Individual Determination and Study Skills. My role as an academic intervention teacher has afforded me the opportunity to work with students in Grades 4-8 who are identified as at-risk or English learners. This opportunity has enabled me to study ways to improve reading.

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    Project Summary

    The goal of this action research is to examine whether home access to e-readers affects readers’ engagement in independent reading and their reading skills. E-readers (loaded with Internet browsers, literacy apps and skill building games) will be used for this research. E-readers will be available for students for the purpose of encouraging independent reading at home or school. After students have opportunities to borrow the equipment for home and school use, their enjoyment of independent reading time spent engaged in independent reading and reading skill scores will be tracked to measure the project’s success.

    Project Context

    I have the opportunity to work with students in grades 4-8 who are identified as at-risk or English Language Learners by interacting with these students daily in a Structured Study Hall class or ELD class. Students in both classes must complete a weekly independent reading assignment requiring them to read 100 pages and record those pages in a reading log. Several students fail to fulfill the requirement claiming they do not have any reading materials at home. Other students say that the reading materials they have access to are boring or too difficult to read. If the material is too challenging or not relevant, they perceive reading to be a chore instead of a pleasurable activity. When analyzing the demographics of the aforementioned groups, it is evident that some of the students come from economically disadvantaged families. Unlike their peers, the at-risk population and EL student population may not have access to smart phones, laptops or other devices.

    Project Significance and Methods

    There are various reasons students can be reluctant to read independently. A reluctant reader, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is a reader that is “unwilling and hesitant; disinclined.” The majority of the students I work with have developed fundamental reading skills, but they may or may not identify themselves as independent readers or comprehend the benefits of recreational reading. Although some students genuinely enjoy independent reading, many students do not have access to relevant reading materials that help students engage in reading. E-readers have the potential to address many of these issues. The positive outcome of this action research may indicate that students who were previously reluctant readers will demonstrate a greater intrinsic motivation to read as evidenced by an increase in independent reading time and strengthened literacy skills. The increase in time spent reading independently will reinforce critical reading skills like comprehension, decoding, fluency and the acquisition of new vocabulary.

    Research Plan:

    • To improve students’ interest in reading and reading skills, it is important that students have access to engaging reading materials. This project aims to provide reluctant readers with e-readers equipped with Internet access to libraries, literacy apps and skill-building games. Participants in this action research study will include approximately thirteen eighth graders, fourteen 7th graders, three 6th graders, two 4th graders. (The numbers may change as new students enter the classes.)
    • Prior to checking out e-readers, the students’ reading level skills (decoding, fluency and comprehension) will be identified using a formal reading assessment such as The student can be retested with the same reading assessment at the end of the year after the student has had the opportunity to use the e-reader for an extended period of time. The beginning-of-year and end-of-year scores can be compared to measure growth.
    • The Academic Intervention Teacher will provide a brief orientation to participants on how to access materials on the e-reader and how to protect the device from damage.
    • Prior to using the e-readers, the parents/guardians of participants will be required to sign a document giving their child permission to borrow the e-reader device. This document will also identify guidelines for usage including a request that use of the device is carefully supervised at home.
    • The participating students will be given a questionnaire to complete each time the e-reader is checked out at the beginning of a two-month period and turned in at the end of the two-month period. The purpose of this questionnaire is to measure personal perspectives regarding their level of enjoyment when engaged in independent reading before and after use of the e-reader. The data obtained from the questionnaires will be included in the action research results report.
    • Students who borrow the e-reader for a two-month period will submit eight completed independent reading logs to their Language Arts teacher. The data will be used to determine if participants met the weekly required reading pages.
    • The success of this plan will be measured by pre-intervention and post-intervention reading assessment scores, questionnaire scores, and independent reading log data. This action research will begin in October 2016 and end in May 2017 enabling participants to have four opportunities to check out an e-reader device for two-month periods (October-November, December-January, February-March, April-May).

    Copyrighted by Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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