Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Frances Moroney Whited


This study was designed to identify the similarities and differences among children who are experiencing difficulty in learning to read. A review of the literature showed that physical, psychological and sociological factors including language and teacher expectations may cause reading difficulty. The literature further suggests that there is a need to assess these factors in individual learners so that reading instruction can be designed for children to experience success in reading.

The characteristics of fourteen low achieving first grade students were analyzed through data collected in a variety of ways. The data analysis included the similarities and differences within the group, the relationship of each of the 18 identified variables to the criterion variable, reading, and an individual profile with analysis for each student. This group of low achieving students was found to be most alike on IQ, personal-social behavior ratings of teachers, receptive language, reading achievement, orientation, and auditory comprehension ratings of teachers. They were less alike on locus of control, reading readiness, spoken language ratings of teachers, and expressive language. The group differed most in number of children in the home, number of errors on the language screening test, number of languages spoken in the home, conceptual tempo, socioeconomic status, number of employed parents, basic concepts, and auditory attention span for related syllables.

The variables which correlated most highly with reading achievement were locus of control, number of languages spoken in the home, receptive language, and teacher ratings of spoken language and personal social behavior. A positive relationship to reading achievement was shown with locus of control, number of languages spoken in the home, reading readiness, language development, socioeconomic status, expressive language, and IQ. An inverse relationship was found with receptive language, spoken language, personal social behavior, auditory attention span, number of children in the home, auditory comprehension, number of employed parents, orientation, basic concepts, and conceptual tempo. The individual profiles compared the students' scores for each variable in the study with both the group and national mean.

The study was limited to a small number of students in a suburban school. Other limitations were imposed by design which did not include factors such as classroom environment, type of reading program, or attitudes that are important in reading achievement.

It has been recommended that the results of this study serve as a base for future research to include: (1) a diagnostic instructional program; (2) a follow-up study with the same group of students; (3) exploration of new instruments to assess the same factors; (4) a study of factors not included in the present design; and (5) a comparative study between urban and suburban school children.