Methodology and Participants
The study took place at my school and the participants were students in fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. There were seven tutors and seven tutees. Of the tutors, three were female and four were male. Of the tutees, two were female and five were male. The tutors were all students who have been identified with reading disabilities. The tutees were in first and second grade, and were identified by their teachers as needing support in fluency practice. All the students whom I asked to participate, were willing to do so and all signed and returned parental permission forms.
The methodology that I used was a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection. I used fluency assessments to count words correct, and errors made at three different points during the study (at the beginning, middle and end). I compared those numbers at the end of the study to see if there was any growth. I also used percentages to keep track of how many steps the tutors were able to do on their own throughout the study. As for qualitative data, I conducted student and parent surveys to get data on reading engagement from different points of view. I also conducted a student interview at the end of the study to get their perspective on the study and to ask if they would be interested in tutoring again.
This methodology made sense because I needed to use quantitative data to show growth in reading fluency and qualitative to show increased reading engagement. This is the logical way to track this simply because fluency can be counted, but engagement is more a matter of interest in something and cannot be counted numerically.
I used several data collecting forms throughout this study. I started the study with a brief student survey and a fluency assessment. I sent a short parent survey home with each tutor, one at the beginning and one at the end of the study. The end-of-study survey also included a few short answer responses. I also used a tutoring session checklist to track each tutor’s ability to conduct a session. Half-way through the study, I conducted a second fluency assessment and a brief interview to see how students felt the study was going. At the end of the study, I conducted a final fluency assessment, a survey and a brief interview.
In addition to parent and student surveys, I also sent a survey to the classroom teachers. To make it as easy as possible on teachers, I only sent a survey at the end of the study, although we informally touched base on interest and progress during the study.
I would like to note that I did not use one my forms because it was not feasible. It was an observation form so I could observe the student in the classroom during independent reading time to gauge reading engagement. The problem was that not all classes have independent reading time, and those that do, do not have it on a consistent basis. I feel that this is further evidence that older students do not get the time they need to practice reading at their reading levels.