Research & Methodology
App Research Methods
The primary problem examined by this study is that dyslexic first and second graders lack phonemic awareness and the ability to manipulate letter sounds. A need exists to examine whether a three-dimensional game app for the iPad could aid dyslexic first and second graders in developing skills in phonemic awareness and the manipulation of letter sounds. This digiceutical application of technology is based on research concerning the neuroplasticity of dyslexic brains (Eide & Eide, 2012; Shaywitz, 2005) Dyslexics are not born with the ability to read and must manufacture a place in their brain to decode the sounds of the letters as well as the physical letters. Currently structured literacy programs (Orton-Gillingham based) have been introduced for dyslexic children for first and second graders. Until recently, only third grade and older dyslexics had access to structured literacy programs, which is too late in the lives of young dyslexics leaving them vulnerable to abuse and shame.
The secondary problem is that children may lack phonemic awareness for other reasons than dyslexia such as ear infections and even autism. A need exists to examine whether a three-dimensional game app for the iPad could aid non-dyslexic first and second graders in developing skills in phonemic awareness and the manipulation of letter sounds. Thus, the purpose of this quantitative quasi-experimental study is to compare the effectiveness of using a gaming app designed to improve phonemic awareness in both the non-dyslexic and dyslexic population with respect to dibels scores taken at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.
The research questions and correlating hypotheses applied to research the stated problems were: To what extent if any is there a difference in dibels scores over one school year in dyslexic first and second graders using the phonemic awareness app in addition to structured literacy curriculum and dyslexic first and second graders just having structured literacy? Additionally, to what extent if any is there a difference in dibels scores over one school year in non-dyslexic first and second graders who do not use structured literacy using the phonemic awareness app?
H1o There is no difference in dibels scores between those with dyslexic characteristics using the phonemic awareness app and those with dyslexic characteristics not using the app over one school year.
H1a There is a difference in dibel scores between dyslexics using the phonemic awareness app and those dyslexics using the app over one school year.
H2o There is no difference in dibels scores between non-dyslexics using the phonemic awareness app and those non-dyslexics not using the app over one school year.
H2a There is a difference in dibels scores between non-dyslexics using the phonemic awareness app and those non-dyslexics using the app over one school year.
Dyslexic children lack phonemic and pre-phonemic awareness because they do not have a place in their brain to decode and manipulate the sounds that make up words. However, young children’s brains have neuroplasticity. Children can actually form a place in their brain with repeated effort. Functional MRI scans of reading dyslexics prove the point. The Dyslexia dragon app for Apple and Google is a six-level game that through play, teaches young students to separate out sounds, manipulate sounds and rhyme sounds that make up words. The game uses the three dimensions of sight, sound and touch. The app falls under an exciting new industry called digiceuticals. Digiceuticals use technology to help improve outcomes in chronic conditions.
There are two for ADHD waiting for FDA approval.
The app is being tested to determine if by playing the game app 15 minutes twice a week will improve the standardized scores on the phonemic awareness test known as dibels in the K-5 through 2nd grade. This is an adjunct therapy to the already existing structured literacy that the dyslexic children are already receiving in the school system.
The app is also being tested to determine if playing the game app will improve phonemic awareness in the general population classes of K-5 through 2nd. Children who have suffered from chronic ear infections also have trouble with discriminating sounds correctly. Parents of children on the autism spectrum have suggested that it might help that population as well.