While I realize that I'm getting in on the "tail-end" of this discussion,
I thought it would be helpful to share with you the outcome of working
with a particular student this summer.

The student came to me (referred by his Uncle who happens to be a faculty
member at our University) for help with his study skills.  The first
thing I did was administer the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies
Inventory) to him.  He scored the lowest possible percentile in motivation
and attitude -- the two main predictors of persistance, and not much higher
in the other eight scales.  He took a "pre-test" on the Davidson "Speed
Reader" program and was only reading 147 words per minute (the average
college student reads about 325-350 per minute).  Although his
comprehension wasn't bad, his overall skill level was low.

My experience in the past has been that when students come to me for help
in "study skills," what they really need to work on first is their
reading speed and comprehension, so I decided to have this students work on
the Speed Reader program.  After working on the program for three
straight months (at least twice per week) the student is now reading over
625 words per minute with 80-100% comprehension.

I'd been waiting anxiously until the end of the summer to administer the
LASSI to him one more time to see if anything had changed.  To my
amazement, the student's score this time on attitude and motivation had
"skyrocketed" to the 75%ile.  He was gaining confidence in his own
ability!!!  HE was also shocked to see the marked improvement in his
scores.  I had kept copies of all of his "drill and practice" work and
presented him with a tidy packet showing his improvement over the
summer.  He was ecstatic!

Now, obviously, this student had a lot going for him: an uncle who
supported (and pushed) him, time over the summer to devote to learning a
new skill, and most of all, the determination to succeed.  But, remember,
it wasn't there at first.  As he learned to read faster, his confidence
grew and that seemed to encourage him to go on.  Now, even though we're
officially finished for the summer, he continues to come into the lab to
work on his reading techniques.  I can't wait to see how he does in
classes this fall!!!

I firmly believe that anyone can benefit from working on speed reading and
comprehension. This example was not an isolated case.  The key is patience,
making learning FUN, and the student's determination to succeed.

I hope this helps!


Kim McDonald
Saginaw Valley State University