ABRACADABRA aids Indigenous and non-Indigenous early literacy in Australia: Evidence from a multisite randomized controlled trial

Jennifer R. Wolgemuth, Robert Savage, Janet Helmer, Helen Harper, Tess Lea, Phillip C. Abrami, Adrienne Kirby, Kalotina Chalkiti, Peter Morris, Jonathan Carapetis, William Louden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


In many western countries, identifiable populations of children read below age-expectations, and the need for effective interventions remains pressing. Indigenous populations across the globe tend to have reading outcomes lower than comparative general populations. This is a critical issue in Australia's Northern Territory where Indigenous students are far less likely to meet minimum reading standards. There is some evidence to suggest that computer-based instruction may be of particular benefit to struggling readers. To redress reading disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, a multisite single-blind randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the ABRACADABRA web-based reading tool, http://abralite.concordia.ca, on reading, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness was conducted in Northern Territory, Australian primary schools with 164 intervention and 148 control (regular instruction) children. The total sample was 28% Indigenous. Results revealed that all intervention group students made significant gains in phonological awareness (d =.37) and phoneme-grapheme knowledge over control group peers (d =.37). Indigenous students gained significantly more per hour of instruction than non-Indigenous students in phonological awareness and early literacy skills. Results suggest that ABRACADABRA prevents lags in foundational literacy experienced by poor readers including Indigenous students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-264
Number of pages15
JournalComputers and Education
Publication statusPublished - May 20 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer-based instruction
  • Early literacy
  • Indigenous populations
  • Phonological awareness
  • Randomized experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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