Differential effects of high and low achievement on oral classroom reading
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the presence of peers upon the oral reading performance of high achieving and low achieving students in a regular classroom setting.Related literature and research in the area of social facilitation has indicated that the presence of an audience serves to increase drive level. The interaction of drive level and habit strength results in the emission of dominant responses. During early stages of learning, incorrect responses are dominant since a response hierarchy has not been established. As learning occurs and mastery level is approached, correct responses become dominant.In order to relate these research findings to the classroom, subjects whose reading skills were below grade level were selected to represent those in the learning stage. Students whose reading skills placed them above grade level were selected to represent those in the mastery stage.The research hypotheses were as follows:1. The presence of peers will adversely affect a student's performance on an oral reading task when the instructional reading level of that student is below grade level.2. The presence of peers will enhance a student's performance on an oral reading task when the instructional reading level of that student is above grade level.Subjects were drawn from five fourth grade classes in two elementary schools in east central Indiana. A total of 76 subjects (34 low achievers and 42 high achievers) participated in the study. Participation in the study required that each student read orally at his instructional level a one hundred word passage in the presence of peers and again in isolation. Instructional levels were determined for each student through the administration of an initial placement test. This is a group test which is provided for each reading level to ensure that the student is placed at his/her instructional level. The passages read were d--aim from supplementary materials provided with the basal. reading series and designed for use at appropriate instructional levels. The passages were unfamiliar to the subjects. Data were collected in the classroom during the regularly schedule reading period in an effort to maintain normal classroom atmosphere. The subject's performance was tape recorded under each treatment condition. These tape recordings were later scored by a panel of judges. Responses which were scored as errors were miscues, repetitions, insertions, and omissions. The dependent variable was the subject's oral reading performance under each of the two treatment conditions. Oral reading performance was selected as the dependent variable because it represents not only an observable, measureable variable, but also an established classroom activity.A repeated measures design was utilized to investigate differences in performance of high achievers and of low achievers under audience present and audience absent conditions. Since the research hypotheses were directional in nature, a one tailed t test for correlated groups was selected to determine the statistical significance of the differences between means using the .05 level of confidence.Results of statistical analysis revealed that there was no significant difference between the oral reading performance of either the low achieving or high achieving groups under audience present and audience absent conditions. Thus support was not found for the research hypotheses that the presence of an audience would adversely affect the oral reading performance of low achieving subjects and enhance the performance of high achieving subjects.