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IES Grant

Title: Exploring the onPAR Model in Developmental Literacy Education
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Magliano, Joseph Awardee: Northern Illinois University
Program: Postsecondary and Adult Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2015- 6/30/2019) Award Amount: $1,571,213
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A150193

Co-Principal Investigators: Christopher Parker and Stephen Tonks (Northern Illinois University) and Tenaha O'Reilly and John Sabatini (Educational Testing Service)

Purpose: Researchers will explore the relationships among literacy, metacognition, motivation, and postsecondary success for students in developmental reading courses. Such courses aim to help students build fundamental and academic literacy skills because, without them, students are at greater risk of not completing their college degrees. However, it is not clear which factors predict academic literacy skills and ultimate success, making it difficult to know how best to tailor instruction. In this study, the research team will test a theoretical model (henceforth the onPAR model) which contends that foundational skills (i.e., basic literacy skills, metacognition, and motivation) help students become proficient academic readers, which in turn increases their performance in and completion of general education courses.

Project Activities: Through three studies, the researchers will explore the components of the onPAR model. In the first study, they will determine whether students' pre-existing basic literacy, metacognition, and motivation profiles predict their end-of-semester grades by comparing students in developmental education programs and in general education programs. In the second study, they will explore whether these three components are malleable to instruction by following students in a developmental reading program that targets them. In the third study, the researchers will explore the associations among these components and student persistence and advancement towards their degrees by tracking students for four semesters.

Products: As a result of this project, the team will produce a refined framework of malleable factors that influence the reading performance of developmental education students. This framework can be used to inform the development or evaluation of instructional programs in developmental education. The research team will also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in a 4-year university located in Illinois and a community college located in the northeastern United States.

Sample: Approximately 1065 freshmen enrolled in either a developmental education program at the community college or university or in general education programs at the same university will participate. The primary population includes students come from a large, urban communities, with a high percent of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, minority students (primarily African American and Latino), and first-generation postsecondary students.

Intervention: The onPar model features several components, including basic literacy (e.g., vocabulary, syntactic processing skills, and basic comprehension), text modeling (e.g., the ability to generate inferences while reading), metacognition (students' ability to consciously choose cognitive strategies), and motivation (students' ability to put forth the appropriate amount of energy to complete a task). The current development reading curriculum at the university uses an approach that aligns with the onPar model. This reading course also teaches students how to apply various literacy practices and strategies across disciplines (e.g., psychology and history) to accomplish authentic academic tasks (e.g., preparing for tests, writing papers).

Research Design and Methods: Study 1 will explore the correlation between the various components of the onPAR model and student academic outcomes, in particular academic literacy, retention, and GPA. Researchers will collect data on students' pre-existing basic and academic literacy, their motivation and metacognitive skills, and background characteristics (e.g., working memory, demographics) during the first weeks of the semester. These data will be gathered from students enrolled in developmental education programs at a university and community college as well as students who are in general education programs at the university. The researchers will collect students' end-of-semester data including retention, course grades, and overall GPA. The researchers will continue to track the progress of students who leave the school prior to the end of the semester by using the National Student Clearinghouse data to determine whether they transferred to another school and earned credits or completed a program elsewhere. Study 2 explores the malleability of the component skills by using a pre-/posttest design with students enrolled in a developmental reading program that targets onPAR skills. The researchers will collect the same data as in Study 1 at the beginning and end of the semester. Study 3 uses a longitudinal design to follow the students for an additional 2 years subsequent to the developmental reading course.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Basic literacy measures include the Study Aid and Reading Assessment (SARA) (for basic literacy, e.g., decoding, vocabulary, and basic comprehension) and the Reading Strategy Assessment Tool (RSAT) (for comprehension, inferencing, and paraphrasing). Academic literacy measures include scenario based assessments specifically designed to measure skills associated with higher-level comprehension and task-oriented reading. Metacognition measures include the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI), the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory, and the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory. Motivation measures include the Adaptive Reading Motivation Measures, the Experience Sampling Method, and the attitude and motivation subscales of the LASSI. Academic measures include retention rates, credit hours completed, and grade point average. Researchers will also collect data on initial student factors including working memory capacity, reading scores (e.g., ACCUPLACER), and general cognitive ability and personality traits associated with academic performance, such as conscientiousness.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use confirmatory factor analyses, structural equation modeling, latent variable growth modeling, and survival analysis to examine the relationships among the onPAR components and students' performance. The research team will also use hierarchical linear modeling to explore possible classroom effects.

Related IES Projects: Developing Reading Comprehension Assessments Targeting Struggling Readers (R305G004065); Assessing Reading Comprehension with Verbal Protocols and Latent Semantic Analysis (R305G040055); Assessing Reading for Understanding: A Theory-based, Developmental Approach (R305F100005); Development and Validation of Online Adaptive Reading Motivation Measures (R305A110148)

Project Website:


Book chapters

Bråten, I., Magliano, J. P., & Salmerón, L. (2020). Concurrent and task-specific self-reports. In D. L. Dinsmore, L. K. Fryer, & M. M. Parkinson (Eds.), Handbook of strategies and strategic processing: Conceptualization, intervention, measurement, and analysis (pp., 275–295) New York, NY: Routledge.

Magliano, J. P., Hastings, P., Kopp, K., Blaum, D., and Hughes, S. (2018). Computer-Based Assessment of Essays Based on Multiple Documents: Evaluating the Use of Sources. In J. L. G. Braasch, I. Bråten, and M. T. McCrudden (Eds.) Handbook of Multiple Source Use. (pp. 502–526). New York, NY: Routledge.

Magliano, J. P., McCrudden, M. T., Rouet, J. F., and Sabbatini, J. (2018). The Modern Reader: Should Changes to How We Read Affect Research and Theory? In M. F. Schober, M. A. Britt, and D. N. Rapp (Eds). Handbook of Discourse Processes (2nd addition), (pp. 343–361) New York: Taylor & Francis.

Tonks, S. M., Wigfield, A., and Eccles, J. S. (2018). Expectancy-Value Theory in Cross-Cultural Perspective: What Have We Learned in the Last 15 Years? In D. M. McInerney and G. A. D. Liem (Eds.), Research on Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning Volume 4: Big Theories Revisited (2nd Edition). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Press.

Journal publications

Davis, M. H., Tonks, S. M., Hock, M., Wang, W., and Rodriguez, A. (2018). A Review of Reading Motivation Scales. Reading Psychology, 39, 1–67.

Davis, M. H., Wang, W., Kingston, N. M., Hock, M., Tonks, S. M., & Tiemann, G. (2020). A Computer Adaptive Measure of Reading Motivation. Journal of Research in Reading, 43(4), 434–453.

Feller, D. P., Kopatich, R. D., Lech, I., & Higgs, K. (2020). Exploring Reading Strategy Use in Native and L2 Readers. Discourse Processes, 57(7), 590–608.

Feller, D. P., Magliano, J., Sabatini, J., O'Reilly, T., & Kopatich, R. D. (2020). Relations between Component Reading Skills, Inferences, and Comprehension Performance in Community College Readers. Discourse Processes, 57(5–6), 473–490, DOI: 10.1080/0163853X.2020.1759175

Kopatich, R. D., Magliano, J. P., Millis, K. K., Parker, C. P., and Ray, M. (2018). Understanding How Language-Specific and Domain-General Resources Support Comprehension.Discourse Processes, 56(7), 530–552.

Magliano, J. P., Higgs, K., Santuzzi, A., Tonks, S. M., O'Reilly, T., Sabatini, J., ... & Parker, C. (2020). Testing the Inference Mediation Hypothesis in a Post-Secondary Context Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61 101867.

Magliano, J. P., Lampi, J. P., Ray, M., & Chan, G. (2020). Revealing the Comprehension Processes of Underprepared College Students: An Evaluation of the Reading Strategies Assessment Tool. Journal of College Literacy and Learning, 46. 104–122.