Date of Award:

8-2020

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Marla K. Robertson

Committee

Marla K. Robertson

Committee

Amy Piotrowski

Committee

Steven Camicia

Committee

Christa Haring Biel

Committee

Cindy D. Jones

Abstract

The present study used a formative design experiment framework which does not answer a research question but addresses a pedagogical goal. The goal of this study was to determine the influence of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) on the reading comprehension of grade-level biology text and biology self-efficacy with students diagnosed with learning disabilities. As a result of this intervention, it was expected that students would better understand biology text and feel better about themselves as a biology student.

Students were separated into pairs, or dyads, with each pair having a stronger reader and a weaker reader. These dyads participated in a series of three structured learning activities: Partner Reading, Paragraph Shrinking and Prediction Relay. Biology self-efficacy assessments and researcher-developed reading comprehensive assessments were administered both pre-and postintervention and after each biology unit. Student notebooks, the researcher notebook, teacher interviews, and focus student interviews were used to gather qualitative data throughout the study. The results suggested that the PALS intervention can have a positive effect on the reading comprehension of grade-level biology text and biology self-efficacy for students with learning disabilities.

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