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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Processes and strategies used by normal and disabled readers in analogical reasoning Potter, Margaret


The purpose of this study was: 1) to identify reading disability subtypes among a sample of reading-disabled students using two classification methods, 2) to discover the processes and strategies used in analogical reasoning by individual reading disabled and nonreading-disabled students through the method of componential analysis, and 3) to explore the relationship between the processes and strategies used by disabled readers in analogical reasoning and their membership in a reading disability subtype. In Phase 1 of the study, groups of normal and disabled readers were established using Grade 5 students attending elementary schools in a large urban area of Northwestern Ontario. The disabled sample of 77 students comprised 41 males and 36 females and the normal reader sample of 20 students comprised 7 males and 13 females. In Phase 2, the disabled and normal readers were individually administered the Boder Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns (Boder & Jarrico, 1982), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised (Dunn & Dunn, 1981), and subtests taken from the Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty (Durrell & Catterson, 1980) . The Schematic Picture Analogies Test (Sternberg & Rifkin, 1979) was administered to students in small groups. The first method of subtyping, the Boder test, failed to identify subtypes among the reading-disabled sample because the students were not as severely disabled as the clinic-referred sample for which the test was designed. The second method, which employed a hierarchical agglomerative technique of cluster analysis using students' scores obtained on 23 reading and related variables, differentiated the normal readers from the disabled readers. Three clusters emerged when the reading-disabled data were analyzed alone that were characterized by strengths and weaknesses in their reading skills. Componential analysis of students' analogical reasoning data used mean solution latency as the criterion or dependent variables. Independent or predictor variables were associated with the systematically varied level of difficulty of each of 24 analogy booklets. Seven models theorized by Sternberg (1977) were fitted to each individual's booklet scores through multiple regression analysis and the preferred model chosen according to five predetermined criteria (Sternberg & Rifkin, 1979). Disabled readers were grouped according to the processes and strategies they used in solving analogies. The normal reader group solved analogies as predicted but there was no relationship between membership in a reading disability cluster and membership in an analogy subgroup. None of the analogy subgroups could be characterized by their reading performance although the subgroup that used the most efficient model tended to have higher ability than the other subgroups. Correlations between solution latency and reading and related variables for the normal readers showed that the more proficient analogical reasoners were faster, more accurate readers and better comprehenders. Few significant correlations were detected between solution latency and reading variables for the disabled readers. The lack of relationship between the two systems is perhaps the most surprising and paradoxical finding of the study. It is suggested that this occurred because reading-disabled children, irrespective of the cluster to which they belong, may solve analogies in a unique way, or because the bottom-up, content-driven nature of the reading task is so fundamentally different from the top-down, content-free nature of the analogical reasoning task. Other explanations suggest that the use of measures at a macro level to form reading-disabled clusters masks any relationship with the analogical reasoning subgroups formed by measures at a micro level, or that component processing is so specific to the individual that differences are buried within the subtypes implying the existence of subtypes within subtypes. Some of the implications for education are discussed.

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