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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology: School Psychology

First Advisor

Gary L. Cates


A vast literature base across disciplines addresses the importance of teaching children to read and also evaluates a variety of strategies for doing so. The current study attempted to bridge research in areas of best practices in reading instruction, efficient and effective instruction, and motivation to read to identify when and if interspersal procedures for sight word instruction can benefit students struggling to learn how to read.

A quasi-experimental single subject alternating treatments research design was used to compare three rates of interspersal on teaching students sight words. The rates of reinforcement were categorized as high (10 unknown words, 20 known words), medium (10 unknown, 10 known words) and a low density reinforcement condition referred to as traditional drill and practice (10 unknown words). Visual analysis of the data was supplemented with calculating percentage of change, repeated measure ANOVAS, and paired-sample t-tests.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the interventions were evaluated as well as student perceptions and behavioral observations to quantify student motivation. Effectiveness was measured as the numbers of sight words participants learned in each of the three conditions. Efficiency was measured by the number of words learned per minute of instruction in each condition. Motivation was measured through self-ratings of perceived difficulty and preference for interventions by participations, and also through behavioral observations of time on task in each condition.

The traditional drill and practice condition was found to the be the most efficient condition for acquisition, maintenance, and generalization, though no differences were found among conditions for intervention effectiveness. Significant differences were likewise not found for oral reading fluency, academic engaged time, ratings of intervention preference, perceived difficulty of conditions, or self-efficacy. Implications are discussed for use of the research procedures in applied settings to evaluate interventions for individual students.


Imported from ProQuest Clark_ilstu_0092E_11026.pdf


Page Count


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