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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Academics & Research

Undergraduate researches learning

A UH education senior spent her summer researching the learning abilities of mentally disabled children by assessing their reading and pronunciation skills.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship is a 10-week research program that’s aimed at giving students a closer, hands-on experience with their desired careers under the direction of a UH faculty member. It provides a $3500 stipend for students and $300 reimbursement stipend for the faculty mentor.

Taylor Jett utilized this program to gain knowledge about helping disabled kids learn more effectively.

Helping disabled students has been an interest of Jett’s since high school and is a passion that has continued throughout her undergraduate interdisciplinary studies.

Jett’s research is based on a three-tier ranking that classifies each disabled student according to their learning abilities. She works most closely with the 2 to 7 percent that fall into the third tier of disabled learners, the tier that needs the most attention.

The students who participated in her study, a group of racially diverse second graders, tested their learning abilities through a method called the Developmental Reading Assessment.

To determine the students’ scores, she tallied the number of words that students read and subtracted the number of incorrectly read words. If the student omitted, mispronounced, or could not read the word within three seconds, it counted as an error against the student.

Jett collected data for a period of six weeks using this technique. Her results indicated that each student faced extreme reading challenges and that none of them were up to their expected level.

She observed that more time and individual attention is required for these students to bring them up to a second grade level.

Jett states that the SURF program helped her understand her class assignments better and the experience she gained helped her prepare for her career.

Jett explained that the biggest advantage of the program is how it offered an opportunity for her to learn the details of the field.

“(My research has) increased my understanding of how students who receive special education services respond to curriculum-based measurements and to determine the most effective way for teachers to tailor their own curriculum to meet the student’s individual needs,” Jett said.

If the opportunity presents itself, she hopes on writing an honors thesis on her research as well. In the future, she hopes to continue honing her skills and complete a master’s in education.

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