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J Res Child Educ. 2016;30(2):252-259. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Measuring the Effects of Reading Assistance Dogs on Reading Ability and Attitudes in Elementary Schoolchildren.

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Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, MA (DL, EM, DL LM) and Grafton Public Library, Grafton, MA (AD).


Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) is a reading program that uses therapy dogs to increase a child's desire and ability to read. However, more data is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of such programs. A five-week R.E.A.D. program was implemented to assess feasibility and effectiveness. Participants included 18 children entering the 2nd grade (9 assigned to read to dogs and 9 assigned to read without dogs present). Fifteen children completed the study (9 in the Dog Group and 6 in the Control Group; p = 0.058). To detect changes in reading ability and in attitudes toward reading, a Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) for reading and an Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS) was given at week 0 and week 5. There were no significant differences over the course of the study in ERAS scores for the Dog Group, but the Control Group had significant reductions in the ERAS academic score (p = 0.04) and a trend for a reduction in the ERAS total score (p = 0.06). There was a numerically larger but not statistically different reduction in CBM in the Control Group compared to the Dog Group (p = 0.16). Further studies are warranted to determine if these trends represent statistically significant effects of the R.E.A.D.



attitudes; early reading; educational research; motivation

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