Schmitt, A. J., McCallum, E., Rubinic, D., & Hawkins, R. (2011). Reading pen decoding and vocabulary accommodations: Impact on student comprehension accuracy and rate . Journal of Evidence-Based Practices for Schools , 12 (2), 223–240.

Journal Article

Schmitt, A. J., McCallum, E., Rubinic, D., & Hawkins, R. (2011). Reading pen decoding and vocabulary accommodations: Impact on student comprehension accuracy and rate. Journal of Evidence-Based Practices for Schools, 12(2), 223–240.


[no doi reported]; In a journal not available at U of M library.


Dictionary/glossary; High school; Learning disabilities; Oral delivery; Reading; Student survey; Technological aid; Text-to-speech device/software; U.S. context




The effects of using the assistive technology tool called the reading pen were investigated. Two conditions were examined -- 1) decoding, and 2) decoding and vocabulary—along with a control condition. The tool was the Readingpen Advanced Edition (2006).


Three high school students identified with specific learning disabilities participated. The participants attended an urban high school in the Northeast (U.S.). Gender and ethnicity data were also reported for each participant.

Dependent Variable

The 400-word reading passages used for skills assessment were drawn from a series (Spargo, 1989) and linked to grade-level. Students completed 10 sessions in which they completed 10 multiple-choice reading comprehension questions in response to reading passages under each of the three conditions. In addition to measuring correctness of responses out of 10 questions, students' reading times for completing the 400-word passages were recorded by observers. Participants also completed a survey about their test-taking experiences.


All three students scored lowest on comprehension accuracy when using the reading pen for decoding and vocabulary. Two of the three students exhibited the highest comprehension accuracy (with a small effect size) when using the reading pen for decoding, and one scored highest (with a moderate effect size) without the accommodation. When calculating comprehension rates, or correct answers per minute of reading time, all three students had the lowest rates in the decoding and vocabulary condition. Two students had the best rates in the control condition and one student had the best rate in the decoding condition. Comparing the rates for the control condition to the decoding condition, the two scoring highest in the control condition had moderate effect sizes, whereas the student with the highest rate in the decoding condition had a small effect size. Overall, then, the researchers concluded that the reading pen accommodation was not consistently beneficial for these students on grade-level test materials. Two participants reported that they enjoyed using the reading pen accommodations, while one did not enjoy this technology. All three students indicated that the decoding function was helpful for unknown words, yet one indicated that the vocabulary (definition) function was helpful only for unknown words. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.