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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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iSTART: An Interactive Reading Strategy Yutoring System that Helps Adolescent Readerse Understand Challenging Text

Danielle S. McNamara, University of Memphis
Irwin Levinstein, Old Dominion University

Abstract: iSTART (Interactive Strategy Training for Active Reading and Thinking) is an automated web-based tutor with interactive, animated characters. The development of an initial version of iSTART was funded by NSF. This version provides students with training to self-explain text using reading strategies, such as paraphrasing, making bridging inferences, and generating knowledge-based elaborations, to understand challenging science text. iSTART has three modules: Introduction (students watch the teacher-agent explain the reading strategies to two student-agents); Demonstration (students are quizzed on various aspects of the SERT strategies); and Practice (students practice generating typed self-explanations while the program provides feedback on performance). The IES project, a 3-year IES Reading Goal 2 (Development) project beginning its second year, aims to make iSTART more easily and effectively incorporated into high-school classrooms. First, we are expanding the library of training texts to include several genres and difficulty levels. We are also investigating transfer of training with science texts to performance on narrative, science, and history texts in three experiments with college and high-school students. Second, we are making iSTART more responsive to students' needs by developing additional modules (such as preparing to read and generating questions), refining current modules (such as increased emphasis on paraphrasing for less skilled readers), and shortening the pretests and linking their results to students' training profiles. Third, we are developing a teacher interface that introduces teachers to iSTART, provides access to student performance data, and allows them to modify scheduling of the curriculum. Our progress in reaching these goals will be summarized.