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Jessica Hergenrother '18

"Multisensory Phonics Intervention for Students At-Risk for Reading Development"

Briefly describe your SOAR project.

Over the course of this summer research program, I had the privilege of researching multisensory reading interventions for struggling students under the direction of Dr. Jean DesJardin. The application of this research was done in the Moravian Summer Reading Clinic under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Conard. Throughout this clinic I was able to put my research to use by working with small groups of struggling students on foundational reading skills through a multisensory approach. We focused on foundational skills such as letter-sound correspondence and spelling, which were taught through activities like sand writing, elkonin boxes and hopscotch! From this assessment, I was able to plan my intervention around the students’ instructional needs.

What motivated you to participate in SOAR?

I was motivated to participate in SOAR by Dr. DesJardin, who recognized my passion for teaching, specifically in reading! During an independent study I had with her, I had expressed my interest in multisensory phonics and phonemic awareness instruction in the general classroom. When she offered me an opportunity to conduct research and work with struggling students in this area of interest of mine, I excitedly accepted the offer!

What are the results of your work on this project?

The results of my work show ed that many students I worked with struggled greatly in foundational reading skills, specifically phonemic awareness skills like segmentation. This summer reading program has helped in closing the “summer slide” or regression in reading development. All students stayed on track with their development from the spring or showed further growth.

What are your personal takeaways from the project? And do you plan to continue work on this project after SOAR?

I saw individual growth in each of the students I worked with. From the first day of our intervention to the last day, I saw growth in students’ letter-sound correspondence, sound segmentation, and spelling skills. This growth in foundational skills translated in their reading capabilities. I think it is important to note that while the focus of the data for this study was based on reading assessments, one of the greatest improvements I saw in the students I worked with was their self-confidence in regards to reading. Engagement and confidence are two of the most important factors to consider as a teacher working with struggling readers. I plan to continue my own research on how to reach struggling readers in the general classroom, and find more ways to differentiate instruction as I know this will be a reality of mine in the near future as an elementary teacher.

What clubs/sports/activities/community service are you involved in?

On campus, I am an active member of KDP, which is an honor society for future educators! When I am not on campus, I am continuing my love for working with children as a nanny for a local family.

Have you received any awards/recognitions here?

I have received a spot on the Dean’s List and maintained a 4.0 GPA consistently since my first semester here at Moravian.

Briefly, what are your future plans and career goals?

My future plans and career goals include graduating in the spring and hopefully receiving a full-time teaching position at an elementary school. I think I would eventually like to go back to school to receive a certification to be a reading specialist. I have also considered a track to get my principal certification in the future.