09 SES 07 C, Methodological Issues in Large-scale Assessments
Parallel Paper Session
This in-depth research study was aimed at investigating the effects of read-aloud modification on students’ performance on PIRLS reading comprehension tests, in two different forms: expressive reading and neutral reading. In Italy international comparative surveys often represent the main reference measure for student achievements in basic skills, but few experimental designs descending from secondary analyses are attempted to investigate possible relationships among variables in order to translate results in suggestions for teaching practices. The present study was intended as a first step in this direction, analyzing if specific aspects of reading aloud can influence students’ achievements in comprehension.
Educational and academic significance of the study
In Italy, where PIRLS 2006 results were particularly satisfactory and in a positive trend with respect to PIRLS-2001, over the 72% of students participating to the survey listen to their teachers’ reading aloud on a daily basis during classes (Mullis, Martin, Kennedy, & Foy, 2007), and this data is also generally confirmed by the international average (58%). It is widely held that listening to the reading aloud offers to the pupils the possibility to learn rhythm and punctuation pauses and it helps fluency, but it is still debated whether or not it enhances the access to semantic and lexical knowledge. With this respect, the fact that several of the countries in which teachers’ reading aloud practice is common were under PIRLS Scale average in reading achievement distribution gives a clue that it is not possible to generalize the positive influence of every kind of reading aloud practice on comprehension. Moreover, though many studies confirmed the relevancy of read-aloud to infants and pre-school children in building phonological awareness, any significant and direct relationship emerged between pupils’ read-aloud and their comprehension of the text. However, teachers’ read-aloud in classroom practice is deemed to make the difference especially when it is associated with a well-established teachers’ expertise on phonological knowledge in reading.
Reading aloud a reading test to a student fundamentally changes the skill being assessed (listening comprehension vs. reading comprehension) yet it still provides information related to the underlying construct (text comprehension). Studies conducted on the relation between reading and listening comprehension with primary school students demonstrated that they are highly related and share many of the same cognitive processes, in an unitary view of comprehension. In addition to this, Italian language has predictable spelling-to-sound correspondences (transparent language), and this leads to the fact that, on the basis of the consistent mappings between orthographic input and phonological outputs, word recognition is easily achieved than in other languages.
In this study it was considered especially the possibility to convey meaning through expressive traits of reading aloud (i.e. changing the tone, accelerating or decelerating rhythm, adding pauses) compared with a neutral reading aloud version. The difference in achieved performance in PIRLS 2006 tests on narrative texts results was detected using three different administration procedures: a) expressive and emotionally conveying reading aloud of the text, b) neutral reading aloud, respecting rhythm and punctuation pauses, c) standard silent administration.
Crawford, L., Tindal, G. (2004), “Effects of a Read-Aloud Modification on a Stan- dardized Reading Test”, Exceptionality, 12:2, pp. 89-106. Elbaum, B., Arguelles, M.E., Campbell, Y., Saleh, M.B. (2004), “Effects of a Student- Reads-Aloud Accommodation on the Performance of Students With and Without Lear- ning Disabilities on a Test of Reading Comprehension”, Exceptionality, 12 (2), pp. 71-87. Hale, A.D., Skinner, C.H., Winn, B.D., Oliver R., Allin J.D. (2005), “An Investiga- tion of Listening and Listening-while-reading Accommodations on Reading Com- prehension Levels and Rates in Students with Emotional Disorders”, Psychology in the Schools, 42 (1), pp. 39-51. Holland J.W. (2008), “Reading Aloud with Infants: The Controversy, the Myth, and a Case Study”, Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, pp. 383-5. Kay, J., Marcel, A. (1981), “One Process, not two, in Reading aloud: Lexical Analo- gies do the Work of Non-lexical Rules”, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Section A, 33 (4), pp. 397-413. Mullis, I.V.S., Kennedy, A.M., Martin, M.O., & Sainsbury, M. (2006). PIRLS 2006 Assessment Framework and Specifications (2nd ed.). Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College. Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Kennedy, A. M. & Foy P. (2007). IEA’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study in Primary School in 40 Countries. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.
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