Date of Award

9-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

School Psychology

First Advisor

William J. Matthews

Second Advisor

John M. Hintze

Third Advisor

Adrian B. Staub

Subject Categories

School Psychology

Abstract

Reading is a skill that unlocks the doors of learning and success. It is commonly accepted that reading is a foundational skill that plays a major role in a child's academic success. The history of teaching reading includes many theories about the development of reading, the source of reading difficulties, and interventions for remediation. A large body of research has demonstrated that reading difficulties stem from a phonological basis and interventions that target this area are generally beneficial in helping improving reading skills (National Reading Panel, 2000; Shaywitz, 2003; Stanovich, 1986). However, there are some who even with extensive intervention continue to struggle to read. Helen Irlen (2005) proposed that these people may experience visual-perceptual distortions when reading high-contrast text (black on white background). Irlen claims that symptoms of this disorder, termed Scotopic Sensitivity or Irlen Syndrome, can be alleviated by the use of color overlays or filters (tinted glasses). Research into the existence of this syndrome and the effectiveness of the overlays and filters to remediate reading problems has been inconsistent and criticized for lacking scientific rigor and heavy reliance on subject report of improvement. The present study seeks to evaluate differences that may exist in eye movements and reading fluency when subjects diagnosed with IS read text with and without color overlays. Participants were screened with the Irlen Reading Perceptual Scale (IRPS) to determine whether or not they suffered from the syndrome. From this screening, participants chose an overlay reported to alleviate distortions or discomfort they experienced when reading. They were then asked to read 18 passages under three conditions--with a clear overlay, with their chosen overlay, and with a random overlay--while their eye movements were recorded. Results indicated that participants showed no improvement in eye movement or reading fluency when they read passages with an optimum (chosen) overlay verses a clear overlay or a random overlay.

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