An Exploratory Study of Primary Pupils’ Experiences of Reading to Dogs

Prof Doc Thesis

Davison, Hazel 2015. An Exploratory Study of Primary Pupils’ Experiences of Reading to Dogs. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsDavison, Hazel
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Reading to Dogs is an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programme used to support primary school children’s reading. AAI is an emerging area with an extremely limited evidence base. The purpose of this research was to explore current practice within primary schools in the local authority regarding Reading to Dogs, and to generate a theoretical explanation of Reading to Dogs.
A sequential, two phase, mixed methods design was employed from a pragmatic stance. The first phase consisted of structured telephone interviews with nineteen primary schools from the local authority to audit current practice. Anonymised reading scores for 89 children to have participated in the programme were also obtained from schools. The second phase employed a classic grounded theory methodology. Data from the first phase, together with ten individual interviews, was analysed using the constant comparative method to generate a substantive theory of Reading to Dogs.
The audit established that a small minority of primary schools within the local authority currently run Reading to Dogs with children displaying emotional needs. Children’s baseline and post-measure reading ages increased by an average of five months following their participation in Reading to Dogs, with an average ratio gain of two months’ reading age for each month of participation.
Playful reading, the substantive theory generated in this research, explains how Reading to Dogs supports children to develop a more playful attitude toward reading. Key concepts of building a close relationship with the reading dog and establishing a mental capital of positive emotions are central to playful reading. The reading dogs’ ability to demonstrate listening and children’s increasing application of their reading skills also feature prominently in the theory.

Publication dates
PrintFeb 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Jul 2015
Publisher's version
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