Mitchell et al. (2011)


Single Subject Designs


SOURCE:  Mitchell, E., Rearden, K. T., & Stacy, D. (2011).  Comedy hour: Using audio files of joke recitations to improve elementary students’ fluency.  Current Issues in Education, 14 (2). . Retrieved 3.09.2013 from



DATE:    3.12.13



TAKE AWAY:  Because the evidence was derived from a case study and the prosodic measures were vaguely described, the overall evidence for this approach to modifying the prosody of children whose reading was not grade appropriate is not impressive.  Nevertheless, the intervention appears to be promising not only to the population described in this investigation but also to children with prosodic problems.


1.  What was the focus of the research?  Clinical Research


2.  What type of evidence was identified?                              

a.  What  type of single subject design was used?  Case Studies: Description with Pre and Post Test Results   

b.  What was the level of support associated with the type of evidence? 

Level = D+                                                       


3.  Was phase of treatment concealed?

a.  from participants?  No                             

b.  from clinicians?  No                                 

c.  from data analyzers?  No                        


4.  Were the participants adequately described?  No _x_

a.  How many participants were involved in the study?  3

b.  The following characteristics of the Ps were described:

•  grade in school:  2nd grade

•  gender:  2m, 1f                            

•  SES:  all  lived in suburbia in the Southeast US

•  reading skills:

   –  for all 3 Ps: lower achieving readers, there number of correct words read per minute (WCPM) were lower than peers, reading fluency was lower than peers

  –  when reading aloud, stopped at an unknown word and waited for assistance (i.e., no sounding out or skipping over word)—1 P

  –  did not attend to punctuation –2 Ps

  –  cleared throat before unknown/difficult word—1 P

 c.  Were the communication problems adequately described?  No. The investigators did not indicate that the Ps had communication problems.


5.  Was membership in treatment maintained throughout the study? Not applicable, these were case studies.

a.  If there was more than one participant, did at least 80% of the participants remain in the study?  Yes

b.  Were any data removed from the study?  No


6.  Did the design include appropriate controls?  No , these are case studies, __x__         Unclear  ____  Varied __x__.   

a.  Were baseline/preintervention data collected on all behaviors?  No. Although there were no baseline data, preintervention data were presented for one of the outcomes (duration).

b.  Did intervention data include untrained data?  No

c.  Did intervention data include trained data?  Yes

d.  Was the data collection continuous?  No

e.  Were different treatment counterbalanced or randomized?  Not applicable 


7.  Were the outcomes measure appropriate and meaningful? Yes

a.  The outcomes are

  OUTCOME #1:  To improve automaticity (i.e., duration in seconds) of read jokes

OUTCOME #2:  To Improve prosody of read jokes

OUTCOME #3:  To improve confidence displayed while telling jokes

b.  The subjective outcomes are  Outcomes #2 and 3

c.  The objective outcome is Outcome #1

d.  The reliable outcomes are   none. 


8.  Results:

a.  Did the target behavior improve when it was treated?  Yes

b.  Outcome results:

The investigators only provided descriptive data for Outcome #1.  For the other outcomes, they labeled the change but did not provide data:

  OUTCOME #1:  To improve automaticity (i.e., duration in seconds) of read jokes – Strong effect—all Ps decreased joke reading duration.

OUTCOME #2:  To Improve prosody of read jokes – could not categorize—Investigators reported improvement in all Ps (e.g., effective delivery, improved expression, effective pausing, exclamation) but they provided no data.

OUTCOME #3:  To improve confidence displayed while telling jokes — – could not categorize—Investigators reported improvement in all Ps (e.g., the Ps behaviors were indicative of happiness when asked to tell jokes to peers) but they provided no data.

9.  Description of baseline:

a.  Were baseline data provided?  No


10.  What was the magnitude of the treatment effect? NA


11.  Was information about treatment fidelity adequate?


12.  Were maintenance data reported?


13.  Were generalization data reported?






PURPOSE:  To investigate the effectiveness of a program to improve the automaticity and prosody of second graders’ oral reading

POPULATION:  2nd Graders who are reading at a level lower than their peers.


MODALITY TARGETED:  production/expression


ELEMENTS/FUNCTIONS OF PROSODY TARGETED:  The investigators did not operationally define the prosodic targets.  The terms they used are listed below; in parenthesis are my interpretations of the terms:

•  word emphasis  (stress)

•  timing  (pausing) including duration/fluency

•  expression (pitch variation/intonation contour, terminal contour)


OTHER TARGETS:  Confidence, automaticity of reading (i.e., reading fluency; measured seconds)

DOSAGE:  Regular classroom activity:  Daily reading block of 5 rotations.  The self and reading to other rotations lasted 15 minutes and only involved joke reading.  Intervention:  individual sessions, 4 times a week for 4 weeks, 10 minute sessions




STIMULI:  visual (written jokes) and auditory




•  Age-appropriate jokes derived from a number of cited sources.


Regular Classroom Activity:

•  The participants continued to be involved in the daily classroom reading routine.  This routine consisted of 5 rotations in which the student

1.  reads to someone  (content — written jokes)

2.  reads to self  (content – written jokes)

3.  participates in word work

4.  listens to oral reading

5.  practices writing

Individual Intervention:

•  Steps:

1.  P reads aloud the targeted joke of the day while C recorded the attempt.

2.  C makes notes concerning prosodic patterns used by P.

3.  C asks P to interpret the joke.  This is a comprehension check.

4.  C provides verbal feedback to the P regarding the prosody of the joke.

5.  C models a good prosodic production of the joke.

6.  C directs P to compare P’s and C’s productions of the joke.

7.  C and P rereads the joke aloud in unison (choral reading).

8.  P echos/imitates C’s reading of the joke.

9.  P produces the joke again and C records it.

10. P and C analyze P’s production of the joke from Step 9.

11. P copies the joke into his/her Joke Book.

12. P practices the joke at home and with peers at school.

•  Schedule:

–  4 days a week P meets with C

–  On Friday afternoons, P participate in Comedy Hour  in which Ps and other classmates, not involved in Individual Intervention, tell jokes.  Each week, Ps present the jokes they have practiced during the week.

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