Key findings

Technology and struggling readers

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Findings of this review indicate that educational technology applications produced a positive but modest effect on the reading skills of struggling readers (overall weighted mean effect size=+0.14) in comparison to traditional methods.

Key findings were as follows:

Type of intervention Outcomes varied substantially according to the type of intervention. Four studies of small-group integrated applications, Failure Free ReadingRead, Write and Type; and Lindamood Phoneme Sequence Program, produced the largest effect sizes (ES=+0.32). Twelve studies of supplemental programmes, such as Jostens and Lexia, generated an effect size of +0.18. The mean effect size from two qualifying studies of comprehensive models, represented by READ 180 and Read About, was +0.04. For the Fast ForWordprogramme, two qualifying studies had an average effect size of +0.06.

Year level Studies were organised into two year levels: lower primary (Years 1 to 4) and upper primary (Years 5 to 7). Two of the studies examined outcomes across both year levels but did not provide disaggregated data. Our findings indicate that the mean effect size for lower primary (ES=+0.36) was much larger than upper primary (ES=+0.07). The mean effect size for the two mixed-year level studies was +0.25.

Programme intensity Programme intensity was grouped into two categories: low intensity (the use of technology interventions, including any associated off-line activities, less than 75 minutes a week) and high intensity (more than 75 minutes a week). The effect sizes for low- and high-intensity programmes were +0.08 and +0.19, respectively, but the difference was not statistically significant due to low power (QB=1.20, p<0.27).