by Robert Mahan, MSOT OTR/L
The purpose of this study was to examine whether Balanced Literacy would be advantageous in the acquisition of literacy skills of four middle school aged children with cognitive disabilities.
Data were collected through a descriptive case study design using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. This study replicated the initial pre-test and post-test that was administered by Erickson and Sanger (1999) to determine the efficacy of the Balanced Literacy software program. The testing examined the following skill areas: phonemic awareness, onsets, rimes, word identification, and writing. Data were analyzed using visual inspection.
The results of this study were positive. The literacy skills of all four children demonstrated improvement. Three students improved in four of the five skill areas tested. Writing was the skill area that exhibited a decrease for three students. The total number of words or letter strings these students wrote decreased, while the number of correct words written increased. Qualitative results indicated an increase in the students’ self-esteem as well as with participation and engagement.
The use of this form of assistive technology to support the development of literacy skills was beneficial for these students. Not only did literacy skills improve, but the self-esteem of each student improved.