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IES Grant

Title: Structures: Improving the Reading Comprehension of Struggling Readers in 4th Grade through Expository Text Structure and Writing
Center: NCSER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Hebert, Michael Awardee: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2013–6/30/2017 Award Amount: $399,073
Type: Training Award Number: R324B130005

Mentor: J. Ron Nelson

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will add to his existing quantitative research skills by developing skills in qualitative and mixed methods research. These skills will be applied to the research project that is designed to develop and pilot test a supplemental intervention aimed at teaching students with and at risk for learning disabilities to detect and use expository text structures to analyze and interpret complex test.

Research Plan: Structures, an intervention for students with and at risk for learning disabilities, will be developed and tested in three phases. The intervention will take place in small groups led by a teacher, and will focus on modeling, guided practice, and independent practice to enhance reading comprehension in the context of specific content areas (e.g., science). Intervention components include: detecting key features of different text structures (description, sequence, compare/contrast, cause and effect, and problem-solution); writing extensive responses to text to inform analyses and interpretations; and discriminating multiple text structures within complex texts. In Phase I, the PI will use an iterative development process using qualitative methods to determine the elements for each instructional component, the sequence of procedures for teaching text structure, and the level of specificity needed in the lesson materials. In Phase II, mixed methods will be used (a) to determine whether the instructional procedures are feasible for teachers with varied levels of experience to implement with fidelity and (b) to explore whether there is evidence that the lessons improve student learning. In Phase III, a small-scale randomized trial will be used to determine whether teachers can implement the entire sequence of revised lessons with fidelity and whether the intervention has promise for improving the reading comprehension of students with and at risk for learning disabilities.

Career Plan: There will be structured, bi-weekly meetings between the PI and mentor to discuss progress, challenges, goals, and learning. Semi-annual meetings will focus on assessing overall progress relative to the overall career development plan. Additional training at the institution will focus on courses on qualitative and mixed methods, and professional development workshops on grant writing and management.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Hebert, M., Bohaty, J.J., Nelson, J.R., and Brown, J.A. (2016). The Effects of Text Structure Instruction on Expository Reading Comprehension: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(5): 609–629. doi:10.1037/edu0000082