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PALS: An Advanced Technology Literacy Experiment with Delinquent Youth



In 1987, Northern Arizona University's Center for Excellence in Education agreed to provide computer assisted reading instruction for juvenile delinquents experiencing academic difficulties. An interactive instructional program was used that incorporates the Principle of the Alphabet Literacy System (PALS) with the IBM InfoWindow system. PALS lessons teach phonemic spelling and are constructed around a fable that dramatizes the power of the written word. Most of the students referred to the project were junior high males with below grade level achievement and low self-concept. The 56 students who completed the 20-week training averaged gains of 1.2 grade levels in reading comprehension and phonics skills. The most significant reading comprehension gains were made by students who were most at-risk academically. Students also gained in keyboard and computer skills. Students whose reading skills improved noticeably also improved in self-concept. However, the students did not report reading more or enjoying school more. Probation officers, parents, teachers, and students reported positive effects of the program on student attitudes and behavior at home and in school. While PALS was not markedly successful with all students, it did have a positive and dramatic impact on about 30% of participants. With such a high risk group, this success rate may be quite satisfactory. This paper contains data tables and figures. (SV)


Peterson, D.L. & Williams, D.A. PALS: An Advanced Technology Literacy Experiment with Delinquent Youth. Retrieved May 24, 2019 from .

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