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Tutoring Bilingual Students with an Automated Tutor That Listens: Results of a Two-Year Study

At a glance

  • Program: Amira Learning
  • Subjects: Assessment, Early Learning
  • Report Type: Efficacy Study, Study Conducted by Third Party
  • Grade Level: Elementary
  • Region: Midwest
  • Population: English Learners
  • Race/Ethnicity: Hispanic
  • District Urbanicity: Suburban
  • Study Conducted by: Poulsen, R.
  • Publication Date: 2004

A two-month pilot study comprised of 34 second- through fourth-grade Hispanic students from four bilingual education classrooms was conducted to compare the efficacy of the 2004 version of the Project LISTEN Reading Tutor against the standard practice of sustained silent reading (SSR). The Reading Tutor uses automated speech recognition to “listen” to children read aloud. It provides both spoken and graphical feedback in order to assist the children with the oral reading task. Prior research with this software has demonstrated its efficacy within populations of native English speakers. This study was undertaken to obtain some initial indication as to whether the tutor would also be effective within a population of English language learners. The study employed a crossover design where each participant spent one month in each of the treatment conditions.

The experimental treatment consisted of 25 minutes per day using the Reading Tutor within a small pullout lab setting. Control treatment consisted of the students who remained in the classroom where they participated in established reading instruction activities. Dependent variables consisted of the school district’s curriculum-based measures for fluency, sight word recognition, and comprehension.

The Reading Tutor group outgained the control group in every measure during both halves of the crossover experiment. Within subject results from a paired T-Test indicate these gains were significant for one sight word measure (p = .056) and both fluency measures (p < .001). Effect sizes were 0.55 for timed sight words, a robust 1.16 for total fluency and an even larger 1.27 for fluency controlled for word accuracy. These dramatic results observed during a one-month treatment indicate this technology may have much to offer English language learners.

Poulsen, R. (2004). Tutoring bilingual students with an automated tutor that listens: Results of a two-year study. [Master’s Thesis]. De Paul University.