Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Chair/Advisor

Reinking, David

Committee Member

Herbst , Maria H

Committee Member

Leu , Donald J

Committee Member

Stecker , Pamela M


Because research exploring how students with disabilities read and comprehend on the Internet is scarce, a mixed methods study was implemented to determine if Internet Reciprocal Teaching (IRT) is an effective intervention for improving online reading comprehension among seventh grade students with high-incidence disabilities in inclusive settings. Differences between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers were also explored.
The intervention included a twenty week (40 lessons) instructional program delivered in three phases in seventh grade English/Language Arts classes from three middle schools in eastern region of the United States. Pre and post intervention data was collected on the Online Reading Comprehension Assessment (ORCA-Iditarod) and the Survey of Online Reading. Further, and a sample of students was randomly selected for further post-intervention qualitative analysis. Qualitative and quantitative data were then triangulated to examine convergent and divergent findings of online reading comprehension.
Results indicate that online reading comprehension, as measured by the ORCA-Iditarod increased for students in the treatment group, but no apparent differences appeared between general education students and students with disabilities. Students in the treatment group demonstrated increased self-efficacy of reading online and locating answers. Qualitative findings further supported improvements in online reading comprehension noting more frequent use of effective search strategies among students in the treatment group, more effective strategy use for determining the reliability of Web sites, and improved communicating strategies using email.
While the ORCA did not reveal significant differences between students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers, Survey data indicated that students with disabilities are using and receiving more instruction on the Internet at school, and some qualitative results revealed more attention to written mechanics and spell check tools than general education students. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research are provided.



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