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IES Grant

Title: Embedding Knowledge-Focused Reading Comprehension Strategies in Cumulative Content-Area Instruction in Grades 3-4-5: An Assessment of Immediate, Transfer, and Long-Term Impact on Reading Achievement
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Romance, Nancy Awardee: Florida Atlantic University
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $749,973
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305G040089

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Vitale, Michael

Purpose: In this project, researchers planned to study the impact of embedding a knowledge-focused, three-part reading comprehension strategy complemented by oral activities on student ontological knowledge. At the time of the study, research suggested that student comprehension of subject-matter texts in grades 4 through 12 was a significant educational problem. In this study, the researchers aimed to evaluate approaches to help students in grades 3 to 5. They proposed to evaluate classrooms that used either a content-oriented environment that utilized science IDEAS (Romance & Vitale, 2001), in which 2-hour daily science instruction provided an integrated context for reading comprehension, or a non-content-oriented environment, in which 2-hour daily basal reading/language instruction (Scott-Foresman, 2002) emphasized narrative text.

Structured Abstract


Setting: The study will be conducted in regular school settings to ensure the ecological validity necessary for the findings to be relevant to educational practice.

Sample: The study interventions will be implemented schoolwide in grades 3, 4, and 5 in 12 demographically comparable elementary schools in a large (175,000 students), ethnically diverse (53 percent minority, 40 percent free-lunch) school system in southeastern Florida. It will involve 5,400 students and 180 teachers for each of 3 project phases. In addition, 1,800 and 3,600 elementary students will be tracked into grades 6 and 7 in phases 2 and 3.

Intervention: The main intervention is Science IDEAS (Romance & Vitale, 2001), a 2-hour daily science instructional block that incorporates reading comprehension instruction.

Research Design and Methods: Using a multivariate repeated measures two by two factorial design framework (factor 1: content-oriented vs. non-content-oriented environments and factor 2: reading comprehension strategy use vs. no use), the project will assess the effects on (a) short-term (end-of-year grade 3, 4, and 5) reading comprehension as measured by nationally and state-normed tests and by project-developed subject-matter-oriented reading comprehension transfer tests in U.S. history and (b) long-term (end-of-year in grade 6 and 7) reading comprehension using the same battery of nationally and state-normed tests. The project also will obtain end-of-year data across grades 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 on (a) student-reported use of reading comprehension strategies, (b) student attitude/self-confidence in reading, and (c) judgments of elementary and content-area middle grade teachers regarding the reading comprehension proficiency of participating students.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear models (HLM) analysis will be used to assess the immediate, transfer, and long-term effects on different facets of reading comprehension performance and associated teacher judgments of student proficiency and to model student longitudinal achievement trajectories.


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

Project Website:

Select Publications:

Book chapters

Romance, N.R., and Vitale, M.R. (2006). Making the Case for Elementary Science as a Key Element in School Reform: Implications for Changing Curricular Policy. In R. Douglas, M. Klentschy, M., and K. Worth (Eds.), Linking Science and Literacy in the K-8 Classroom (pp. 391–405). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Vitale, M.R., and Romance, N.R. (2006). Research in Science Education: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. In J. Rhoton, and P. Shane (Eds.), Teaching Science in the 21st Century (pp. 329–351). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Vitale, M.R., and Romance, N.R. (2007). A Knowledge-Based Framework for Unifying Content-Area Reading Comprehension and Reading Comprehension Strategies. In D. McNamara (Ed.), Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theory, Interventions, and Technologies (pp. 73–104). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Vitale, M.R., Romance, N.R., and Dolan, M.F. (2006). A Knowledge-Based Framework for the Classroom Assessment of Student Science Understanding. In M. McMahon, P. Simmons, R. Sommers, D. DeBaets, and F. Crawly (Eds.), Assessment in Science: Practical Experiences and Education Research (pp. 1–14). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Journal article

Vitale, M.R., and Romance, N.R. (2008). Broadening Perspectives About Vocabulary Instruction: Implications for Classroom Practice. New England Reading Association Journal, 44(1): 15–22.


Vitale, M.R., and Romance, N.R. (2006). Concept Mapping as a Means for Binding Knowledge to Effective Content-Area Instruction: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Concept Mapping (pp. 112–119). San Jose, Costa Rica: University of Costa Rica.