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IES Grant

Title: Developing an Expository Book Reading Intervention for Preschool Children with Language Impairment
Center: NCSER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Breit, Allison Awardee: University of Cincinnati
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/13–6/30/17 Award Amount: $1,456,438
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A130205

Co-Principal Investigators: Ying Guo, Jo-Anne Prendeville, and Christopher Swoboda

Purpose: Language Impairment (LI) is a common disorder among the school-age population, affecting approximately 7.4 percent of children. Approximately half of the children identified with LI at a young age will go on to be later identified with a reading disability. Young children with impaired language are six times more likely to be identified with a reading disability at school age than non-impaired children. One intervention demonstrating significant and positive effects on preschool children's early language and literacy skills is interactive book reading, in which adults (e.g., parents, teachers) actively involve children in the book reading process. However, few language and literacy interventions have focused on using expository (nonfiction) texts that provide information such as facts, explanations, and reasons for true-life phenomenon in preschool-aged children. Instead, these interventions have largely included fictional narratives, with little attention to expository text and language comprehension skills. Yet, knowledge of the structures and language of expository texts appears to be critical to later reading achievement.

The purpose of this project is to develop a supplemental book reading intervention that uses expository books to teach language and expository text skills (i.e., topic knowledge, text structures, signal words, academic vocabulary, inferential language) to preschool-age children with language impairment.

Project Activities: This 4-year study will use an iterative process that includes three phases: Phase I will include development, implementation, and revision of two of the four intervention modules; Phase II will include development, implementation, and revision of the remaining two intervention modules; and Phase III will include a feasibility/pilot study to (a) assess the promise of the intervention for improving the language and expository text skills of children identified with language impairment and (b) assess the effects of the intervention on practitioners' expository text knowledge, self-efficacy, and quality of book reading interactions. In addition, the research team will develop and test an intervention-based assessment as a proximal outcome measure for the intervention.

Products: The expected products of this project include a fully developed, expository book reading intervention that can be implemented within the typical school day, an intervention-based assessment measure, data on the feasibility and promise of the intervention, and peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This research will take place in early childhood special education classrooms in Ohio.

Sample: A sample of 96 children who are 3 to 5 years of age with language impairment (LI) will be recruited from 32 classrooms for this study. Four classrooms and 12 children with LI (3 per classroom) will be recruited for Phases I and II to field test the intervention components (total: 8 classrooms and 24 children). Twenty-four classrooms and 72 children with LI will be recruited to test the full intervention in Phase III.

Intervention: The expository book reading intervention will be implemented during small-group book reading sessions with three children with language impairment in early childhood special education classrooms. Expository books will be read three times each week. Interactive discussions and informational retellings provide the mechanisms for addressing children's expository text skills. The intervention components will be embedded within four 7-week modules that will focus on four text structures and four science topics (Module 1: Sequence, Plants; Module 2: Compare-Contrast, Animals; Module 3: Cause-Effect, Seasons; Module 4: Problem-Solution, Environment). Practitioners implementing the intervention (i.e., teachers and speech-language pathologists) will participate in professional development consisting of a full-day face-to-face pre-intervention workshop, four face-to-face half-day pre-module workshops, one in-class modeling session per module, and mid- and post-module feedback sessions.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use an iterative process that includes the development, implementation, and revision of each of the four intervention modules, using expert consultants and practitioners to review and provide feedback throughout this process. For pilot testing the feasibility and promise of the intervention, the team will use a small-scale randomized controlled trial, with classrooms randomly assigned to the expository book reading or control condition (12 intervention, 12 control). Children and teachers will be assessed prior to and at the conclusion of each intervention module.

Control Condition: Practitioners in the control condition will conduct business as usual. The control classrooms will be observed and the practitioners asked to list the titles of books read in the classroom in weekly logs.

Key Measures: To measure child outcomes, the research team will use previously developed, research-based, direct assessments of language and expository skills; language samples; observations of child engagement; and the intervention-based measure developed in this study. Practitioner outcomes will include assessments of expository text knowledge and practitioner self-efficacy, and observations of practitioner-student interactions.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative methods will be used to analyze data from focus groups, field notes, and structured interviews used for developing and revising the various aspects of the intervention. Given the nested nature of child data, hierarchical linear modeling will be used to assess the promise of the intervention to improve child outcomes. Practitioner outcomes will be analyzed using multivariate analyses of co-variance.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Breit-Smith, A., Busch, J. D., Dinnesen, M. S., Guo, Y. (2017). Interactive book reading with expository science texts in preschool special education classrooms.

Breit-Smith, A., Busch, J., and Guo, Y. (2015). Sharing Expository Texts With Preschool Children in Special Education. Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 22(3): 93–102. doi:10.1044/lle22.3.93 Full text

Breit-Smith, A., Olszewski, A., Swoboda, C., Guo, Y., Prendeville, J. (2017). Sequence text structure intervention during interactive book reading of expository picture books with preschool children with language impairment.