Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Helen Johnson

Committee Members

Jay Verkuilen

Bobbie Kabuto

Patricia Ryan-Johnson

Katelyn McGee

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology


Shared Reading, Structured Parental Reading, Children with Cancer, Vocabulary Growth, Parents as Partners


Children diagnosed with leukemia often fail to progress academically, even falling behind due to hospitalizations and prolonged treatment protocols. Naturally, their medical challenges take priority over all other issues, though eventually absences from school place them at risk for academic deficits after the completion of treatment (Tsimicalis et al., 2018). As well, the neurotoxicity associated with chemotherapy damages their central nervous systems, exacerbating school related problems (Lewis et al., 2010). Since the survival rate for children with leukemia has improved dramatically in recent years, intervention aimed at ameliorating these problems has potent benefits. The current study compared structured and unstructured parental reading programs in a sample of children diagnosed with leukemia focused on improving their vocabulary growth, an important factor facilitating academic success. The parents of these children participated in the intervention with their children during hospitalization. Nineteen parent-child dyads were recruited to participate in this investigation. The implementation of two different forms of reading programs, dialogic reading (structured) and read-alouds (unstructured), took place after the parent participants had received training on these topics. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R) served as the pre/post assessment of vocabulary, measuring any gains obtained by the children in both groups. Parents in both groups read aloud to their children on a daily basis during the five-week intervention period. To assess treatment fidelity, the principal investigator texted the parent participants weekly. This study analyzed PPVT-R data using pre and post growth scale values (GSV). GSV differences determined the significance of the vocabulary gains (Dunn & Dunn, 2007, p. 21). Results indicated that the main effect for the within-subjects factor, changes in value of the GSV, in the period between pre and post assessment, did reveal a significant difference. The data suggests areas for future research and the instructional implications of the findings.