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An investigation of children’s arousal levels as they read graded materials Bryant, Harriet Willis

Abstract

The major purpose of this study was to attempt to determine word recognition and comprehension criteria for the frustrational level of reading by means of the galvanic skin response (GSR), in order to substantiate the conventional criteria used by authorities in the field. The sample consisted of 60 children in grades two and three, for whom parental consent for inclusion in the study had been obtained. Scores from a standardized reading achievement test were used to stratify all second and third grade children on reading achievement level (below, average, and above average). Ten children for each grade and reading achievement level were then randomly selected (N=60). Subjects were required to read the words on the Wide Range Achievement Test-Level 1 (1965) while being monitored on the GSR in order to obtain an index of each child's high arousal level. This level was then to have been used to indicate the frustrational level of reading as the child read the passages of the Diagnostic Reading Scales (1972), that was treated as an informal reading inventory. At this level, word recognition and comprehension accuracy scores were to have been obtained, and these compared to the existing criteria. However, during the reading of the Diagnostic Reading Scales passages no subject attained the arousal level obtained on the Wide Range Achievement Test, and therefore frustrational level of reading had to be determined from the criteria stated in Johnson and Kress (1965). As a result, alternate hypotheses were postulated. GSR arousal levels were obtained for the instructional and pre- frustrational levels of reading, for both the oral reading and comprehension sections of the test, and these statistically compared. At the frustrational level of reading, comparisons were made between the oral reading and comprehension sections of the test, the three reading achievement groups, and for the boys and the girls. Data were analyzed using a two-way analysis of variance for a repeated measures design. It was found that there was no significant difference between the oral reading of the passage and the comprehension section at both the instructional and frustrational levels of reading. The three reading achievement levels did not differ significantly in arousal at the frustrational level of reading. Implications of the results were discussed.

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