Psychology ETDs


Julia Keller

Publication Date



Dyslexia (DYS) can be defined as a reading disorder that is not caused by sensory or cognitive deficits, or by a lack of motivation or adequate reading instruction. Remediation of a deficit in phonological processing has been the focus of most DYS interventions to date, but these studies have had despairingly little impact on generalized reading abilities. Reading Recovery and mindfulness (MF) training are two interventions that emphasize the development of metacognition. Reading Recovery teaches children how to use multiple metacognitive strategies (e.g., using context clues, making predictions) while in the process of decoding and comprehending text. MF, or mental training, is a well-established technique for developing attentional capacities and can also be considered a metacognitive skill. In this mixed-methods study, I investigated whether training in metacognitive strategies (including MF) would significantly improve reading and writing skills compared to a control condition. Twenty students in grades 2-5 with an identified learning disability were recruited from the public school district. After matching on age, severity, gender, and primary language, participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group or active control group. Participants in the experimental group received a five-week intervention that incorporated phonics training, Reading Recovery, and MF. Subjects in the control group received only phonics training for five weeks. Pre- and post-measures were collected on reading, writing, and a lexical-decision task. Quantitative results demonstrated that MF significantly increased response times during decoding (indicating a possible increase in reflectiveness due to metacognitive processes) and significantly lowered heart rate over the course of the intervention. Qualitative themes pointed to improvement in self-expression, motivation, focus, self-confidence, positive affect, and use of metacognitive strategies.

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Level of Degree


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First Committee Member (Chair)

Smith, Bruce

Second Committee Member

Witherington, David

Third Committee Member

Averill, Jennifer


Mind and Life Institute




Mindfulness, Dyslexia, Educational Interventions, Metacognition, Learning Disabilities

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