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IES Grant

Title: Developing Internet Comprehension Strategies Among Adolescent Students At Risk to Become Dropouts
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Leu, Donald Awardee: University of Connecticut
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,795,477
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305G050154

Co-Principal Investigator: Reinking, David

Purpose: In this project, the researchers developed a research-based adaptation of reciprocal teaching to support poor, minority adolescent youth in acquiring reading comprehension skills. In the early 2000s, the Internet was becoming an increasingly important source of information for students and researchers noted that it may pose new challenges for students because reading information on the Internet demands new, higher-level comprehension skills. At the same time, the Internet was seen as having the potential to increase students' engagement with learning, creating a context that permits renewed attention to reading and to instruction in reading comprehension strategies. At the conclusion of this project, the researchers had developed instructional materials that could be used to teach comprehension while students read on the Internet.

Structured Abstract


Setting: This project takes place in largely minority, poor school districts in urban Connecticut and in rural South Carolina.

Sample: More than 1,000 students in grade 7 are participating in this research project over 3 years.

Intervention: The intervention being developed in this project is titled Internet Reciprocal Teaching (IRT). Adaptations made to traditional reciprocal teaching include specific instruction about unique strategies used to locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information on the Internet. In addition, students bring their own comprehension problems when reading on the Internet into the classroom.

Research Design and Methods: During phase 1, the research team gathers foundational information about Internet use among the target population. Both survey data and in-depth verbal protocols are being collected from participating seventh graders. A pilot test of the preliminary model of IRT is being conducted as well. In phase 2, the researchers build on the information gathered during phase 1 to refine Internet Reciprocal Teaching and then field test an implementation of IRT by conducting a design experiment aimed at identifying key factors associated with successful implementation and outcomes across diverse contexts. Eight purposively sampled English language arts (ELA) classes are participating in the design experiment, four as experimental classes and four as comparison classrooms. Building on the findings from the design experiment, a true experiment is being carried out in phase 3 to test the potential effectiveness of IRT. In the experiment, 12 students in grade 7 ELA classes are being randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions in order to test the potential effects of their adapted reciprocal teaching approach. In one condition, students participate in telecollaborative projects. In a second condition, students participate in the same telecollaborative projects but with the addition of instruction using Internet Reciprocal Teaching. The control condition is described below.

Control Condition: During the design experiment in phase 2, data are being gathered from four comparable classrooms that are using the Internet to some extent. During the experiment carried out in phase 3, control children receive normal instructional practices used to meet district and state standards in ELA.

Key Measures: Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected in both the formative and experimental phases of the project. Quantitative data will include experimenter-developed online reading comprehension assessment measures; reading, vocabulary, and word analysis subtests of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills; and assessments of engagement with reading and in school learning. Qualitative data include detailed "thick descriptions" of intervention use in classrooms and schools.

Data Analytic Strategy: Both qualitative and quantitative data analyses are being conducted. Descriptive results from the survey of Internet use are tabulated. Data collected during the formative experiment are analyzed using t-tests and ANOVA to test for pre/post differences between means of the experimental and control classrooms. Data gathered during the experiment in phase 3 are being analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). This development project is intended only to obtain evidence of the potential effectiveness of the intervention. The study is under-powered for analysis at the unit of random assignment (classroom) and will be analyzed at the level of the student.

Related IES Projects: Assessing Online Reading Comprehension: The ORCA Project (R305A090608); Factors Affecting Comprehension by Teens During Online Reading in Science: The FACTORS Project (R305A170370)


ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications:


Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., and Leu, D.J. (2008). Handbook of Research on New Literacies.Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Leu, D.J. (2007). Expanding the Reading Literacy Framework of PISA 2009 to Include Online Reading Comprehension.Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

McKenna, M.C., Labbo, L.D., Kieffer, R.D., and Reinking, D. (2006). International Handbook of Literacy and Technology, 2.Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Reinking, D., and Bradley, B.A. (2008). On Formative and Design Experiments.New York: Teachers College Press.

Book chapters

Castek, J., Coiro, J., Hartman, D.K., Henry, L.A., Leu, D.J., and Zawilinski, L. (2007). Thinking About our Future as Researchers: New Literacies, New Challenges, and New Opportunities. In M. Sampson, S. Szabo, F. Falk-Ross, M.F. Foote, and P.E. Linder (Eds.), Multiple Literacies in the 21st Century: The Twenty-Eighth Yearbook, a Peer-Reviewed Publication of the College Reading Association (pp. 31–50). Readyville, TN: College Reading Association.

Castek, J., Leu, D.J., Jr., Coiro, J., Gort, M., Henry, L.A., and Lima, C. (2008). Developing New Literacies Among Multilingual Learners in the Elementary Grades. In L. Parker (Ed.), Technology-Mediated Learning Environments for Young English Learners: Connections in and Out of School (pp. 111–153). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., and Leu, D.J. (2008). Central Issues in New Literacies and New Literacies Research. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear, and D. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of Research on New Literacies (pp. 1–21). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Leu, D.J. (2007). Foreword. In M.B. Eagleton, and W. Dobler (Eds.), Reading the Web: Strategies for Internet Inquiry (pp. ix-x). New York: The Guilford Press.

Leu, D.J., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Hartman, D., Henry, L.A., and Reinking, D. (2008). Research on Instruction and Assessment in the New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension. In C.C. Block, and S. Parris (Eds.), Comprehension Instruction: Research-Based Best Practices (pp. 321–346). New York: Guilford Press.

Leu, D.J., Zawilinski, L., Castek, J., Banerjee, M., Housand, B., Liu, Y., and O'Neil, M. (2007). What is new About the New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension?. In A. Berger, L. Rush, and J. Eakle (Eds.), Secondary School Reading and Writing: What Research Reveals for Classroom Practices(pp. 37–68). Chicago: National Council of Teachers of English.

McKenna, M.C., Labbo L.D., Reinking D., and Zuker, T.A. (2007). Effective Use of Technology in Literacy Instruction. In L. Gambrell, L.M. Morrow, and M. Pressley (Eds.), Best Practices in Literacy Instruction (pp. 344–372). New York: Guilford.

Reinking, D. (2005). Instant Messaging, Literacies, and Social Identities: A Review Commentary. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear, and D. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of Research on New Literacies (pp. 1175–1188). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Reinking, D. (2009). Valuing Reading, Writing, and Books in a Post-Typographic World. In D. Nord, J. Rubin, and M. Schudson (Eds.), The History of the Book in American, Volume 5 (pp. 485–502). Cambridge, UK: American Antiquarian Society and Cambridge University Press.

Reinking, D., and Carter, A. (2005). Accommodating Digital Literacies Within Conceptions of Literacy Instruction. In B.Guzzetti (Ed.), Literacy for a New Century (pp. 139–155). Westport, CT: Praeger.

The New Literacies Research Team (2007). New Literacies, New Challenges, and New Opportunities. In M.B. Sampson, S. Szabo, F. Falk-Ross, M.M. Foote, and P.E. Linder (Eds.), Multiple Literacies in the 21st Century: The Twenty-Eighth Yearbook of the College Reading Association (pp. 31–50). Logan, UT: College Reading Association

Journal articles

Boling, E., Castek, J., Zawilinski, L, Barton, K., and Nierlich, T. (2008). Collaborative Literacy: Blogs and Internet Projects. The Reading Teacher, 61(6): 504–506.

Coiro, J., and Dobler, E. (2007). Exploring the Online Reading Comprehension Strategies Used by Sixth-Grade Skilled Readers to Search for and Locate Information on the Internet. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(2): 214–257.

Holcomb, L., Castek, J., and Johnson, P. (2007). Unlocking the Potential of K–12 Classroom Websites to Enhance Learning. New England Reading Association Journal, 43(1): 36–43.

Hutchison, A., and Henry, L.A. (2010). Internet use and Online Literacy Among Middle Grade Students at Risk of Dropping out of School. Middle Grades Research Journal, 5(2), 61–76.

Kennedy, C., Rhoads, C., and Leu, D. J. (2016). Online Research and Learning in Science: A One-To-One Laptop Comparison in Two States Using Performance Based Assessments. Computers & Education, 100, 141–161.

Leu, D J., Forzani, E., and Kennedy, C. (2015). Income Inequality and the Online Reading Gap: Teaching Our Way to Success With Online Research and Comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 68(6), 422–427.

Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., and Timbrell, N. (2015). The New Literacies of Online Research and Comprehension: Rethinking the Reading Achievement Gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1), 37–59.

Leu, D.J., and Zawilinski, L. (2001). The New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension. New England Reading Association Journal, 55(1): 5–14.

Leu, D.J., O'Byrne, W., Zawilinski, L., McVerry, J., and Everett-Cacopardo, H. (2009). Expanding the New Literacies Conversation. Educational Researcher, 38(4): 264–269.


Leu, D.J. (2006). New Literacies, Reading Research, and the Challenges of Change: A Deictic Perspective. In 55th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference(pp. 1–20). Milwaukee, WI: National Reading Conference.