Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Gary Stoner


Many student academic challenges are due to difficulties developing reading skills; therefore prevention efforts are relevant for school psychologist and educators. One promising avenue for addressing reading acquisition problems, via effective reading instruction, is Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI). There is, however, still a need for more research addressing costs and benefits for populations such as Hispanic/Latino and/or English Language Learners (H/L-ELL). The primary aim of this research was to determine the extent to which the CAI reading intervention, Headsprout Early Reading (HER), produces meaningful improvements in reading acquisition and performance among students who are low performing readers and identified as H/L-ELL. A secondary aim was to understand socio-cultural factors for Hispanic and Latino students using CAI. This study utilized a non-concurrent multiple baseline design across participants. Participants consisted of 6 kindergarten and 8 first grade students. Seven parents returned a series of brief questionnaires that assessed demographic information, parent reading beliefs, and bilingual dominance. The HER program’s effectiveness for each individual was scored across five criteria and then classified as either one of the following descriptors: No Effects, Mild Effects, Moderate Effects, and Strong Effects. The results demonstrated stronger evidence for the HER program when students decoded real words followed by decoding nonsense words. For example, on the Phoneme Segmentation Fluency measure, there were strong effects found for 50% of kindergarten students, and strong effects found across 75% of first-grade students. Across the Nonsense Word Fluency measure, there were one out of six kindergarten students (i.e., 16%) who showed strong effects, whereas across first-grade students there were four out of eight students (i.e., 50%) who showed strong effects. Overall results suggested that the HER intervention appeared more effective for first-grade students rather than for kindergarten students. In addition, descriptive socio-cultural demographic information highlighted the need to explore these factors in future practice and research when examining CAI use with H/L-ELL students. Given the importance and relevance of reading to children’s development, it is imperative to understand the benefits of promising and cost-effective, computer-based reading interventions among H/L-ELL children in the US.



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