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IES Grant

Title: Evaluating a Multicomponent Reading Intervention Designed to Address the Diverse Needs of Struggling Readers in Late Elementary School
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Compton, Donald Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,083,163
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305G050101

Purpose: In this project, the researchers developed a multi-component reading program to address the diverse needs of late elementary school students who are struggling readers. The researchers proposed that any intervention designed to work with these children must be multi-pronged, citing that national evaluations consistently demonstrate that approximately one-third of fourth graders do not easily make sense of what they read. The research team developed instructional dialogues, strategies, and materials that were intended to increase the probability that struggling readers derive and retain vocabulary and knowledge while reading text, especially science and social studies texts. These instructional procedures were designed to be easily adapted for use with any expository text and used effectively across the general and remedial programs. At the completion of the project, this team reported on the preliminary effects of the proposed multi-component instructional program on student reading outcomes.

Structured Abstract


Setting: This project will take place in the greater Nashville metropolitan area. Half of the elementary schools in this district are Title I.

Sample: About 216 students in grade 2 to 5 who are struggling readers will participate in 2 studies carried out over 3 years. These students are screened on a series of standardized reading and cognitive measures and are performing below the 25th percentile on these measures. Students in the Nashville school district are 37 percent white, 42 percent African American, 18 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent other.

Intervention: This project is developing a multi-component program that will, in its final version, incorporate both vocabulary and knowledge instruction.

Research Design and Methods: In the first phase of this research, the team is conducting a random assignment study to separately evaluate the effects of the programs developed for vocabulary and declarative knowledge instruction for struggling late elementary readers. The researchers will randomly assign 144 students assigned to 1 of 3 interventions taught by a trained research assistant. All three interventions receive decoding instruction, fluency instruction, and oral reading in text, with groups differing in terms of the in-text instruction they receive. The vocabulary intervention group receives dialogue instruction combined with definitions and semantic maps to learn the meaning of target words in text and the knowledge intervention group receives instruction in the use of dialogue and strategies associated with reciprocal teaching in order to learn the declarative knowledge contained in the text.

In the second phase of the research, a second random assignment study is being conducted to evaluate the effects of combining vocabulary and knowledge instruction as part of a multi-component program. The researchers will randomly assign 72 students to either control or intervention groups.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition receive teacher-directed questioning with no dialogue instruction.

Key Measures: Both standardized and researcher-developed measures are being used at three points: pre-, mid-, and posttest. The researcher-developed tests include tests of knowledge strategy use, knowledge acquisition, meaning strategy use, and vocabulary acquisition.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear modeling is being used to compare outcomes across the various instruction conditions and to explore the effects of child attributes on responsiveness to intervention.

Products and Publications

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

Select Publications

Book chapters

Compton, D.L., Elleman, A.M., and Catts, H.W. (2012). Searching for Supplementary Screening Measures to Identify Children at High Risk for Developing Later Reading Problems. In J.P. Sabatini, T. O'Reilly, and E.R. Albro (Eds.), Reaching an Understanding: Innovations in how we View Reading Assessment (pp. 55–80). Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.

Compton, D.L., Elleman, A.M., Olinghouse, N.G., Lawrence, J., Bigelow, E., Gilbert, J.K., and Davis, G. (2009). The Influence of In-Text Instruction on Declarative Knowledge and Vocabulary Learning in Struggling Readers: How IQ Confounds the Story. In R.K. Wagner, C. Schatschneider, and C. Phythian-Sence (Eds.), Beyond Decoding: The Behavioral and Biological Foundations of Reading Comprehension (pp. 46–71). New York: Guilford Press.

Journal articles

Elleman, A.M. (2017). Examining the Impact of Inference Instruction on the Literal and Inferential Comprehension of Skilled and Less Skilled Readers: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(6), 761.

Elleman, A.M., Lindo, E.J., Morphy, P., and Compton, D. (2009). The Impact of Vocabulary Instruction on Passage-Level Comprehension of School-Age Children: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2(1): 1–44.

Elleman, A.M., Olinghouse, N.G., Gilbert, J.K., Spencer, J.L., and Compton, D.L. (2017). Developing Content Knowledge in Struggling Readers: Differential Effects of Strategy Instruction for Younger and Older Elementary Students. The Elementary School Journal, 118(2), 232–256.

Elleman, A.M., Steacy, L.M., Olinghouse, N.G., and Compton, D.L. (2017). Examining Child and Word Characteristics in Vocabulary Learning of Struggling Readers. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(2), 133–145.