Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Learning and Technology


Educational Research Cognition and Development

First Committee Member

Leann Putney, Chair

Second Committee Member

Gwen Marchand

Third Committee Member

Neal Strudler

Graduate Faculty Representative

Linda Quinn

Number of Pages



Driven by Lev Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory (1986), my study investigated the self-perceptions and interactions of seven underperforming, third-grade readers while using Technology-Actuated Reading Instruction (TARI). Partnered with same-age peer tutors, readers used digital tools to listen to, read/record, and playback oral reading passages. They practiced, peer- or self-edited, and selected their best reading products as part of the iterative process. As reading is a complex cognitive skill (Reinking, 2005), TARI incorporated higher cognitive learning activities via a synthesis of Gagné's (1985) nine conditions of learning and the Four-Component Instructional Design Model (van Merriënboer & Kester, 2005).

Much of the current literature on tutoring and underperforming readers has focused on academic gains and quantitative measures. It is also lacking in discussion about the interactions underperforming readers have with peer tutors while using digital tools and the influence these interactions have on readers' self-perceptions. Therefore, three questions guided the study. First, how do underperforming, third-grade readers interact with their peer tutor while using TARI? Second, how does the TARI process influence underperforming readers' self-perceptions as readers? Third, how does the process of same-age, peer tutoring influence underperforming readers?

The process-oriented, microgenetic approach was conducted during flexible school hours at a charter school located in a large, southwestern, urban city. It encompassed four weeks and captured data during 50-minutes of daily observations and field notes, and/or interviews or videotaping. The study explored how, and at what point, self-perceptions of underperforming readers became actualized : the realization by the underperforming reader that their potential or ability as a reader had changed.

Three themes emerged from the findings: levels of interaction with tutors, the use of digital tools, and developing independence. It was found that readers exhibited proximal (high), moderate, or distal (low) levels of interactions; however, the degree of interaction did not consistently correspond to their changes in self-perception. Proximal interaction did not guarantee the most substantial gains. The iterative TARI process coupled with peer tutoring positively influenced six of seven readers as evidenced by their improved self-confidence, self-efficacy, independence, and changes in self-perception. Additionally, the self-perceptions of all but one tutor moved in a positive direction.

The study adds to the body of knowledge currently available on the interactions of underperforming readers while using digital tools and the influence TARI and peer tutoring had on individual students' self-perceptions as readers. It offers copious details of how the process of change occurred for seven readers, makes recommendations for multimedia instructional design, and provides implications and direction for future research in immersive environments.


Developmental reading; Education; Lev Semenovich; Peer teaching; Peer tutoring; Reader; Reading — Remedial teaching — Aids and devices; Self-perception; Technology; Technology-actuated instruction; Third grade (Education); Tutoring; Underachievers; Underperforming; Vygotsky


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary Education and Teaching | Instructional Media Design | Reading and Language

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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