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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The use of rewards in reading fluency interventions: considerations for student achievement and motivation Turri, Mary Gwendolyn


Across Canada, thousands of children are struggling readers. In British Columbia alone, between 18 and 22% of students are below provincial reading expectations (BC Ministry of Education, 2016). As a critical component to reading success, yet often neglected in classroom instruction, reading fluency is a viable intervention target to help remediate these challenges. Due to concerns regarding intrinsic motivation, the use of rewards in an educational context is contentious. However, for students who are not already intrinsically motivated to read, providing extrinsic reinforcers such as a tangible reward may serve as a way to effectively engage them in reading activities and encourage practice. The current evidence base for reading fluency interventions shows mixed results for whether adding tangible rewards produces any incremental gains in reading fluency. This study examined the effects of tangible rewards within the context of a standard protocol reading fluency intervention on reading and motivation outcomes. Using a multiple-baseline multiple-sequence across participants design, participants completed an intensive 8-week standard protocol reading fluency intervention with and without rewards, in a counter-balanced sequence across participants. Results indicated that across reading measures, there was no differentiation between the rewards and no rewards conditions, suggesting that rewards did not appear to either help or hinder performance on reading measures. Similarly, rewards did not appear to affect participants’ self-reported motivation to read. Across conditions, the intervention was effective in improving direct fluency gains on instructional passages for five out of six participants across both multiple baselines. For between-session fluency gains, the intervention was effective for one participant. The intervention was not effective in improving generalized gains in reading fluency. Results are discussed in terms of implications for educators, limitations of the study, and need for future research.

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