JOHN JAMES KENNY, University of Rhode Island


Reading is generally considered the most basic and important subject in school since it is both a subject of instruction and a tool for mastery of the extended curriculum. Since reading is particularly stressed in the early years of formal education, there are positive and negative conseqences associated with the degree of its mastery. Students who master reading often receive positive feedback for their accomplishments both from teachers, parents, and peers as well as from themselves. They develop, over time, a sense of competency about their strengths in relation to reading. There are students, however, who experience considerable difficulty over extended periods in terms of attaining proficiency in reading. Students with reading problems develop frustrations and anxieties surrounding this area and, as a consequence, come to discredit their abilities not only in reading but also in other academic areas. A major hypothesis of this study is that students who experience extended periods of difficulties in learning to read efficiently and effectively will develop avoidance behaviors as a method of alleviating the chronic frustration and anxiety associated with reading failure. The two-process theory of avoidance learning, utilizing the model of the neurotic paradox, was used to conceptualize the process of anxiety and avoidance development in this population. The avoidance paradigm not only provides a description of anxiety process but also suggests a method for alleviating the anxiety and avoidance behaviors. The purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness of two counseling techniques Cognitive Behavior Modification (CBM) and Affective Counseling (AC) techniques in reducing anxiety and avoidance behaviors associated with reading. It was hypothesized that as a function of anxiety and avoidance reduction, self-concept and reading scores would increase. Predictions were made that the experimental group, at post-testing, would score lower in anxiety, higher in self-concept, lower in avoidance behaviors, and higher in reading. The subjects were 27 students from the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades who scored below the 30th percentile on appropriate levels of the Stanford Achievement Test. Subjects were matched on grade, I.Q., anxiety, self-concept, avoidance behaviors, and reading. The dependent measures were the Test Anxiety Scale for Children, the Student's Perception of Ability Scale, the S.A.T. (Paragraph Meaning Comprehension), and an Avoidance Behavior Rating Scale. Data were analyzed by two 3-Factorial ANCOVAS of Grade x Treatment x Time (Pre-Post) and Therapist x Treatment x Time. Results indicated no significant between group effects but three significant interactions: (1) a statistically significant reduction in anxiety for the experimental group from pre- to post-test, (2) a grade x reading interaction, and (3) a Therapist x reading interaction. While there was a general lack of statistically significant results in the data, the direction of change across the dependent measures was as predicted thus suggesting that further clinical trials to test the (CBM) technique are warranted.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

JOHN JAMES KENNY, "A REMOTIVATION PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN WITH READING PROBLEMS" (1981). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI8215340.