Date of Award

Spring 3-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Graham Weir

Second Advisor

Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom


With increased dependence on computer-based standardized tests to assess academic achievement, technological literacy has become an essential skill. Yet, because students have unequal access to technology, they may not have equal opportunities to perform well on these computer-based tests. The researcher had observed students taking the STAR Reading test (Renaissance Learning, 2009) and noticed a variance in scores in relation to classroom performance. The researcher intended, therefore, to explore variables that may affect the performance of students on a computer-based reading assessment. The researcher tested two different technology-related variables as students took a summative exam, the STAR Reading test. The purpose of this study was to explore how changes in visual stimuli affected the process of reading and student reading behavior. This quantitative study sought to ascertain whether changing the computer read-out to a black screen with white lettering made a difference in student engagement and comprehension among students in grades two through six during a computer-based adaptive test. The research site was one K-6 elementary school in a large suburban school district. The participants of the study were 316 children in grades two through six. One hundred and sixteen students were randomly sampled for student engagement data analysis.. The researcher conducted a stratified random process to further select data for analysis. Students were exposed to both color display background variables throughout the study process. Teacher observers collected tallies on student engagement behaviors during the test-taking process. iii The researcher calculated the mean level of student engagement on each of five observed behaviors. The researcher also collected reading comprehension data for five subsequent benchmark sessions throughout the year. The engagement results of this study failed to support the hypothesis, which stated that elementary student behaviors during testing would verify a measurable difference in engagement when either a black or white display screen was presented. The results of the reading comprehension test also failed to support the hypothesis, which stated that there would be a measurable difference in elementary students’ scores while taking computer-based tests when the computer screen was set to either black or white background.


Copyright 2014