Term of Award

Summer 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Mary Ellen Cosgrove

Committee Member 2

Michael McKenna

Committee Member 3

Michael Moore

Abstract

This narrative study explored the impact of the Accelerated Reader Program (AR) on students' reading comprehension and attitudes. The participants' concerns and future implications ofutilizing AR in a regular reading curriculum were also explored. The use of computers in classrooms has ignited a flame oftechnological stratagems hailed as a panacea for motivating children to become life-long learners. This eruption of technology comes at a time when educators are constantly seeking innovative strategies to improve students' reading comprehension.

While there is no lack of research in most areas of reading development, the majority of the research is quantitative and has been conducted by researchers with little, if any, feedback from the actual participants. Research has been conducted on and for students, but not with students as active participants. There is an abundance of research on reading, however, very little on AR's impact on students' reading comprehension and attitudes and none on the students' and parents' perceptions of AR. This study, however, focused on those actively involved in using the program - the students. The study's purpose was to examine the impact ofAR on six selected students' (2 boys and 4 girls) reading comprehension, habits, and attitudes toward reading. The study examined teachers', students', and parents' perceptions of the efficacy of AR, their concerns, and suggestions for future implementations of AR.

Narrative inquiry helped recount the stories of six selected fourth grade students, their parents, a media specialist, and a first, second, third, fourth (the researcher), and fifth grade teacher with AR incorporated into the reading curriculum. Data collection methods included school portraiture, AR artifacts, observational field notes, reflective journals, structured interviews, and focus groups.

Findings from this study authenticated Advantage Learning's claim the AR Program increases reading comprehension, and impacts students' reading habits and attitudes. Using four strands of inquiry (phenomenology, hermeneutic, narrative, and action) in my research helped capture the multifarious perceptions surrounding AR. Using reflective journals captured the hidden moments of thought in data analysis, uncovered meanings and intentions hidden in research tests, and respected participants' feeling and thinking without stereotyping their experience. I hope this study will provide valuable enlightenment about AR to teachers, students, and parents so that informed choices may be made for the betterment of all students.

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