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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation into the effectiveness of diagnostic-prescriptive instruction, using the early prevention of school failure program as a model Alderdice, Johanna


The effect of specific preschool programs on the development of reading readiness, perceptual-motor, language and cognitive skills has been studied by a number of investigators. The majority of the studies reviewed indicated a positive effect on reading readiness, IQ and the development of prerequisite skills. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of diagnostic-prescriptive instruction on the development of prerequisite skills and reading readiness, using the Early Prevention of School Failure Program as a model. The major components of this program are screening, diagnosis of the screening results, individual learning profiles based on the screening results, prescriptions to strengthen weak areas, and parent involvement. Five treatment levels were included in the present study: (1) diagnostic-prescriptive instruction and parent involvement; (2) diagnostic-prescriptive instruction; (3) an attention placebo to control for a possible Hawthorne effect; (4) learning profiles given to the teachers of one group without the benefit of further suggestions or instruction; (5) the control group. The population was defined as "moderate and high risk" children in kindergarten in the Coquitlam school district. The sample was drawn from 21 half-day kindergarten classes situated in 9 schools of the same district. The final sample consisted of 140 "moderate and high risk" children. The investigator assumed the role of a learning assistance teacher and provided the treatment for groups 1 and 2 once a week. The duration of the treatment was 4 months. Six months elapsed between pre-tests and post-tests. An analysis of covariance was conducted on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Preschool Language Scale and Beery Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration with the pre-tests as a covariate. An analysis of variance was conducted on the Lee Clark Reading Readiness Test. There was no significant treatment effect on the prerequisite skills measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, nor was there a treatment effect on reading readiness as measured by the Lee Clark Reading Readiness Test. However, results indicated a positive effect of diagnostic-prescriptive instruction on the development of prerequisite skills measured by the Preschool Language Scale and the Beery Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration. In addition, the latter test showed that, without intervention, the discrepancy between mental age and chronological age tended to perpetuate. Therefore it was recommended that school districts implement an early intervention program at the beginning of the kindergarten year. Limitations of the study were noted and suggestions for future research included the establishment of a more reliable and valid screening battery, as well as the establishment of local norms.

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