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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Relationship between failure in beginning reading and certain developmental and environmental factors Ennenberg, Margaret Dorothea


The problem of this thesis was to explore the relationship between first grade reading failure and certain environmental and developmental factors, using the case study method. The subjects were sixteen boys and six girls from a Vancouver school in a poor neighborhood. They ranged in age from 7 years 1 month to 8 years 2 months, and in IQ from 73 to 113 according to the Pintner-Cunningham Primary Test (Form A). All had been taught by veteran primary teachers using the auditory-visual, basal reader method. Achievement was assessed on the basis of report card grades, a Pupil Rating Scale designed for this project, and the Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty. The etiological factors investigated were intelligence, visual perception, style of learning, self-concept and home environment. Eight students repeating grade I were matched with eight who had been regularly promoted to grade II. It was hypothesized that differences in reading achievement between the matched pairs would be accounted for by significant differences in one or more of the factors studied. Evaluative techniques included: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Raven Coloured Matrices, Frostig Developmental Test of Visual Perception, Mills' Learning Methods Test, and a 45-90 minute parent interview for each child. Twenty-two case studies were assembled, in which the beginning stages were noted of a variety of reading disabilities - maturational lag, linguistic handicap, cultural deprivation, inadequate motivation, emotional disturbance, faulty reading habits. The major findings were: 1) The Pintner-Cunningham Primary Test appear to assess inaccurately the functioning intelligence of 10/22 children in this sample. Six of these pupils were successful readers with defects of visual perception revealed by the Frostig Developmental Test of Visual Perception, sub-tests II, III and IV. 2) The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test had a high correlation with reading success, and did not appear to discriminate against the ten children who came from bilingual or Canadian Indian homes. 3) Anomalies of biological endowment characterized 9/l4 unsuccessful readers - organic defect, slow development, premature birth, hypo- or hyper-activity - although only one was mentally retarded. It) The aspects of home environment basic to reading success in grade I appeared to be parental literacy, standards of behavior adjusted to the child's capacity, reasonable methods of discipline, and a warm relationship between the child and at least one parent. 5) Lack of flexibility in methods of teaching reading were seen as contributing to the high failure rate. For 12/14 pupils, the only solution offered for a wide variety of beginning reading problems was a second year in grade I, with no adjustment of curriculum.

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