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ReadTheory for university EFL reading practice - perceptions on progress

Cathrine-Mette Mork ☀ Miyazaki International College (MIC) ☀ JALTCALL 2017

Introduction Student Questionnaire Progress Reports


What is ReadTheory? In a study by Romeo (2016), almost 80% of learners surveyed rated
their overall satisfaction with ReadTheory as 8/10 or higher. Nearly
Although students generally progress from the RDG1 course to the
RDG2 course, there were multiple sections of each course taught by
30% of all respondents rated their satisfaction level as 10/10. Results different instructors. The classes were streamed, and many instructors
ReadTheory (readtheory.org) is an online reading practice platform did not employ ReadTheory. It was expected that average ReadTheory
from the ReadTheory questionnaires conducted at MIC at the end of
that supplies students with an extensive library of passages targeting scores for RDG2 would be higher than those of RDG1 due to level
each semester (before final exams) similarly yielded positive levels of
individual levels. Learners are assessed on comprehension through a changes from spring to fall, and due to streaming, which initially placed
satisfaction overall for the 36 respondents.
series of multiple choice questions and optional written responses. the RDG1 students using ReadTheory at a lower level than those
The system uses algorithms and Lexile (lexile.com) level information Number of respondents who completed different percentages of ReadTheory quizzes
RDG2 students using it. This level difference was reflected in a
to initially place students at an appropriate starting point. Readers Above target Target 75%~99% 60%~74% 60%>:
comparison of the 2 sets of class charts. The graphs shown below at
move up (or down) in level as they work through ReadTheory. 7 14 7 5 3
left represent data from RDG1: a class synopsis, grade performance
Answers and detailed explanations are available upon completion of How often respondents accessed ReadTheory levels, Lexile performance levels, and a CCS mastery breakdown.
each section. The platform is designed for American K12 readers, Students are represented by the bars. The graphs below at right show
Almost every A few times A few times A few times I crammed I didn’t
adhering to national benchmarks specified by the Common Core day a week a month a semester use it. data from one sample student in RDG2. Yellow diamonds at left and
State Standards (CCSS - corestandards.org). 0 14 15 4 3 0 yellow dotted lines at right represent placement test level results.

How does ReadTheory work? Extent to which students believed…


Strongly Agree Neither agree Disagree Strongly
agree nor disagree disagree
• Teachers can create a class account and student accounts, or have Using RT was enjoyable. 3 15 11 7 0
students create their own account and join a teacher’s class.
Using RT was interesting. 3 16 15 2 0
• Students take an initial placement test (around 30~40 minutes)
which can be done during or outside class time. The reading passages in 4 16 13 3 0
• ReadTheory employs the Lexile Framework to match learners with RT were interesting.
resources at appropriate challenge levels. The RT system was easy 7 13 11 4 1

Method
to use.
• Students read passages at their own pace and complete several
Using RT was good 9 17 8 2 0
multiple choice questions and (optional) writing segments. The practice for me.
questions stress problem solving, analytical skills, and critical Using RT helped me 5 21 8 2 0
thinking. In adherence with the CCSS, the questions address key Why was ReadTheory used? improve my reading skills.
ideas and details, integration of knowledge, and craft and structure. I used RT mostly on my 15 12 6 2 1
cell phone.
• Records of quizzes taken are available in graphs. Quizzes are • As the structure of typical ReadTheory sessions resembles that of
I plan to use RT in the 1 20 14 1 0
broken down by grade level in relation to student pretest grade level MIC’s final exams for reading courses, it was hoped that the future for personal study.
scores. system would:
1. familiarize students with the exam format, Extent to which students believed…

2. improve students’ reading skills, Strongly Agree Neither Disagree Strongly I didn’t
agree agree nor disagree check.
3. provide students with a tool for self-directed learning. disagree
• The questions are designed to improve critical thinking ability and The progress data 2 14 14 3 1 2
develop an understanding of the scope, structure, intention, received from my
teacher OR the RT
Conclusion
memory, and vocabulary of reading passages. system was motivating.
• Teachers can observe student activity through class accounts and Getting badges on the 4 15 14 2 0 1 Pros:
view extensive reports showing student levels and progress. RT system (shown to • The platform was rated highly by students.
me by my teacher) was
• ReadTheory is motivational due to its incorporation of game motivating. • The instructor found the system informative of student efforts and
mechanics. easy to use.
• Students move through grade levels (a relative measure designed
to approximate U.S. grade school levels) based on quiz scores:
• The system assigns readings appropriate to individual level, and
allows for level changes in accordance with performance.
Optional Student Comments • ReadTheory reading content is extensive and continually expanded.
• ReadTheory is mobile-friendly and therefore highly accessible.
▲ Grade up: score 90% or greater • It is free. Cons:
Rationale for completing the number of ReadTheory quizzes reported:
► Grade unchanged: score between 70% and 90% Because, I want to improve reading skill. (+3 more similar comments) • Initial placement testing was sometimes inaccurate, often placing
▼ Grade down: score below 70% Learning by short stories is very comfortable for me. Because, I was able to study little by little. If stories so
students at a higher level than their overall performance in the
• Students earn “knowledge points” primarily by answering questions How was ReadTheory used at MIC? long, I may had to spend much time. (+1 more similar comment)
ReadTheory is fun and some stories are interesting. (+3 more similar comments) system would indicate.
correctly, using resources to make discoveries, and performing well Because it was homework. (+2 more similar comments)
• Student levels did not improve dramatically over the course of use, if
Because, I want to get good score. (+4 more similar comments)
on quizzes. Points unlock designated titles, designs, and other • The system was piloted in two freshmen EFL reading courses at at all. Students may have to use the system more often and/or over
game mechanics built into the program, but have no affect on grade MIC in 2016: RDG1 (spring) and RDG2 (fall). There was no Rationale for reported infrequency of ReadTheory use: a longer period to see substantial gains.
or Lexile levels. overlap of students between the courses.
At first, I did everyday, but after reach this gole I hardery do it.
• Whether ReadTheory helped prepare students for finals was not
I have lots of things to do. Especially, I did also have to submit another many homeworkers. (+2 more
• Each class (of 18 students) was allotted a number of ReadTheory similar comments) investigated.
quizzes to complete by 4 deadlines in the semester. RDG2
students were allotted a higher number of quizzes to complete.
General Feedback regarding the ReadTheory system
It is easy for me to use. (+4 more similar comments) References
• Students were graded only on completion of work, not on I get the badge, higher motivation. (+4 more similar comments)
Read theory was good for me. I got good reading skill. (+3 more similar comments) Kapp, K. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and
progress through the system or level attained. It is short story. It's easy to do during short time. (+2 more similar comments)
strategies for training and education. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
• Questionnaires addressing student perceptions were completed at Also, it help my reading speed to improve.
It was interesting.
the end of each semester. There are a lot of problems. However, I could resolve these. (+1 more similar comment) Romeo, G., Hock, T., & Plante-Kropp, A. (2016). A preliminary study concerning the
effectiveness of an online reading comprehension and writing program. ReadTheory.org Data
• Student progress in the system was analyzed. I think that teacher did have to control amount of boderline about reading. Read theory…needed too much
Collection Study 2.0. https://readtheory.org/static/pdf/RTStudy2.pdf
time in order to get score. Probably, all students get tired and uncomfortable in terms of motivation.

Cathrine-Mette Mork cmork@sky.miyazaki-mic.ac.jp


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