May 19, 2011 by Barbara Calhoun, Ph.D

This study was part of Dr. Beth Rogowsky’s doctoral research and was published in her dissertation in 2010.  At the time of this study, Dr. Rogowsky was an experienced educator.  Returning for her doctorate at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, Dr. Rogowsky was interested in data-driven decisions, and wanted to know whether the Fast ForWord products would improve the grammatical skills of a group of typical middle school students.  The middle school in which Dr. Rogowsky taught had four marking periods each year.  During each marking period, students took two elective courses. 

During the 2009-2010 school year, the sixth graders were randomly assigned to use Fast ForWord during one of their electives; one-fourth of the students during each marking period.  The students who used Fast ForWord during the 3 rdmarking period formed the experimental group in Dr. Rogowsky’s study while the students who were scheduled to use Fast ForWord later formed the comparison group.  Students’ grammar skills were evaluated at the beginning and end of the 3 rdmarking period.

Study participants were 81 sixth graders.  Group 1 consisted of 40 students who used Fast ForWord during the third marking period.  Group 2 consisted of 41 students who did not use Fast ForWord until after the study was over.  Students were assessed at the beginning and end of the study (January and April).

Using the 40-Minute protocols that require students to use the products 40 minutes a day, five days a week, the students first used Fast ForWord Literacy.  After they finished Fast ForWord Literacy, students used Fast ForWord Reading Level 2.  Students were evaluated at the start of the study, and again at the end, with the Written Expression Scale from the Oral and Written Language Scales, also known as the OWLS.  The written section evaluates students’ knowledge of convention and content.  Convention covers a variety of areas including spelling, capitalization and punctuation, linguistics, modifiers, phrases, verb form while content includes details, coherence, unity, and the presence of supporting ideas.  Students are scored on a scale where 100 is average, and the standard deviation is 15.

At the start of the study, there was not a statistically significant difference between the scores of the students in the two groups.  On average, students in both groups were a bit above the 50 thpercentile which corresponds to a score of 100. However, after the experimental group used the Fast ForWord products, there was a statistically significant difference between the scores of the two groups, and there were statistically significant increases in the scores of the group that had used Fast ForWord products. The results of this study led Dr. Rogowsky to conclude that the Fast ForWord products can improve students’ grammar skills and the improvements are evident in a classwide implementation.

Rogowsky, B. (2010). The Impact of Fast ForWord® on Sixth Grade Students’ Use of Standard Edited American English . Doctor of Education dissertation, Wilkes University.