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  • Topic: Eye tracking and prosody
  • Title: Tracking and teaching reading fluency using atobi eye tracker and the Kurzweil reader
  • Contact Information, i.e. Robert E. Kretschmer, Ph.D, Maria Hartman, Becca Jackson
  • Type of Research: Mixed: experimental and instructional
  • Subject Pool:
    • 1. Description, typical hearing adult graduate students ; 20 typically hearing proficient readers, 20 proficient upper teenage or young adult who are deaf readers and 20 deaf, 3 classes of typical deaf readers and 3 classes of deaf children who have cochlear implants who are developmentally early readers.
  • Setting: university
  • Subjects: 20 proficient hearing adults, 20 proficient upper teenage or young adult who are deaf readers; 3 classrooms of middle school and high school students who are deaf
  • Research Description:
In recent years there has been considerable interest in the phonetic encoding abilities of deaf readers. Although there have been mixed results, it has generally been concluded that there a significant but low percentage of deaf readers who are phonetically encoders including deaf children of deaf adults who use ASL

Additionally, there have been various panels, (National Reading Panel, 2000) and texts (Snow, Griffin & Burns, 2005) have recommended a balanced approach to instruction in reading to include, phonics, oral reading (fluency) instruction and practice, vocabulary development, the attention to reading comprehension and comprehension strategies. It was noted in the panels and texts that reading fluency was predicated on rapid retrieval of lexical items and the proper chunking of phrasal units and prosody within sentence was a critical skill allowing for reading comprehension, which seems to be supported by empirical research. Of course this work has been done with typically hearing adults and children. Wang, Kretschmer and Hartman (2008), however, note that there is no research in the literature concerning automaticity retrieval of printed lexical items and reading fluency with respect to children who are deaf.

In actuality, an assumption is made even with proficient hearing reads, that there is a correspondence between fluent oral reading and silent reading of printed text, which is why the National Reading Panel (2000) and Snow, et al (2005) have encouraged the use of oral reading with children. It is an assumption since there have not been techniques available to investigate relationship oral reading the use of internal speech processes, though now we do, i.e. eye trackers.

If indeed there is some correspondence between oral fluent reading and internal speech processes in silent reading, it could very well evident in similarities in prosody of the voice and eye movements in terms of the timing units and pauses.

We have just begun this work, i.e. we are still collecting the literature review. We have already had one of our doctoral students in the use of the eye tracker. Generally speaking, the following represents our general thoughts about how we might go about this. The overall project will entail three parts to it. The first study will be done with typically hearing fluent readers who are graduate students. The second study will be done with upper teen/young adults who are deaf and competent readers. In all probability we will screen these students with a traditional short-term memory task not unlike that of Conrad’s procedure. It would be good if we could get a group of phonetic encoders, visual encoders, and individuals who have deaf parents and who use ASL to communicate. The third study would be an intervention study, i.e. we would take a group of non-fluent deaf readers and try to give them practice in silent fluent reading use the Kurzweil reading software in conjunction with the Tobi eye tracker. The advantage of using the Kurzweil reading software is that 1) it reads

The idea so far with the first study is that we would recruit a number of presumably fluent reading graduate students to do two tasks. First we would give them a relatively easy, but multiparagrah piece of text on the Tobi eye tracker. We would ask them to read aloud the text until such time that they read could read the text flawlessly, or near flawlessly (were not sure about this). Each reading will be audio recorded and recorded via the Tobi eye tracker. Once the reader has achieved fluency, we will ask the individual to read the passage silently three times. We are still working on how to match the oral prosody timing units to the eye tracking timing units.

As for the second study, it would be essentially the replication of the first study.

The third study will not only use the eye tracker but the Kurzweil reading program. The advantage and purpose of using the Kurzweil reading program is: 1) the latest version of the software reads back print in a fairly natural synthesized voice and the prosody cues are present and 2) as the passage is read, the word being “uttered” is highlighted and thus the visual “prosody” matches the auditory “utterances”. The idea is to practice children on various passages of controlled vocabulary, syntactic complexity, and textual structures, e.g. cohesion, until their eye tracking matches that which is produced by the Kurzweil reading program. Of course the content, vocabulary, syntax etc will be pretaught. To insure that the readings produce by the Kurzweil software are reasonable representations of text, a panel of fluent readers will attempt to verify the accuracy of at least one reading of the textual reading.

The student will be given both the auditory and visual of the rendition produced by the Kurzweil. If there is a way to connect to hearing aid boot we will try to do this. The idea is that the child might gain at least fundamental frequency pulsation with regard to prosody of the text. The goal is to have the child follow the prosody produced by the Kurzweil errorlessly, or near errorlessy. Once accomplished probes will be introduced to determine if the passages are read more fluently and/or the time (number of presentation) can be reduced as compared to control group. We also try to figure out if it is possible to accomplish this using some form single subject design.

  • Requested for all posted research:
  • URL for more information concerning posted research Thus far the information has not been posted, but once we are in a position to do so it will be on the PI homepage at Teachers College.
  • Collaborative opportunities within posted research We certainly would certainly welcome any collaboration that is possible
  • Feedback sought concerning posted research. As can be seen, we are only at the beginning of this work. Any comments would be greatly appreciated
  • Grant “RFPs” opportunities related to posted research Assuming we actually do find a correspondence between oral reading and silent reading prosody an attempt will be made to submit an expanded version, i.e. a larger N, of the first study. Based upon the “pilot” data we will also seek funding for the other parts of the study
  • References:
    • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS. (2000).Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read (00-4769).Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
    • Snow, C, Griffin, M. and Burns, M.S. (ed.).(2005) Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading: Preparing Teachers for a Changing World. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass
    • Wang Y, Kretschmer R, Hartman M (2008). Reading and students who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. Journal of Balanced Reading Instruction, v , p.


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