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IES Grant

Title: Instruction Of Reading Comprehension: Cognitive Strategies Or Cognitive Engagement
Center: NCER Year: 2003
Principal Investigator: Garcia, Georgia Awardee: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,475,400
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305G030140

Co-Principal Investigators: Barbara Taylor, University of Minnesota
David Pearson, University of California, Berkeley

Levels of student proficiency in reading comprehension in the United States remain low, and there is little evidence to suggest any increase is occurring in the use of effective instruction in reading comprehension. Research has established the efficacy of several approaches to teaching reading comprehension, but little is known about why these approaches work, and teachers find it difficult to actually implement effective approaches in their teaching. The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate teacher-implemented strategies for reading comprehension instruction based on two established general approaches, and then to combine the positive features of the strategies of both approaches into a comprehensive model of instruction.

The researchers are carrying out this three phase project with second and fourth grade teachers and their classrooms in four school districts serving different populations of students, one of which includes a substantial portion of students whose first language is Spanish. In the first phase, the researchers are working with second and fourth grade teachers to develop and implement teaching strategies using two different approaches. In the first approach, called cognitive strategies, the emphasis is on teaching students to carry out specific operations with the material they are reading, such as questioning, clarifying, summarizing, or reacting to what they read. In the second approach, called cognitive engagement, the teacher uses questions to encourage students to think about various features of what they are reading, in order to strengthen their intellectual grasp of the material. In the second phase the researchers are formally evaluating the effects of teachers' use of these two approaches, by randomly assigning teachers in 2nd and 4th grade classrooms in participating schools into three groups of classrooms using cognitive strategies, cognitive engagement, or continuing to teach as they had before. In the third year, the researchers are using the results of the prior study to synthesize the two approaches into a more comprehensive model and then testing the effects of the synthesized approach in comparison with normal teaching practices.


Book chapter

Stahl, K.A.D., Garcia, G.E., Bauer, E.B., Pearson, P.D., and Taylor, B.A. (2006). Making the Invisible Visible: The Development of a Comprehension Assessment System. In K.A.D. Stahl, and M.C. McKenna (Eds.), Reading Research at Work: Foundations of Effective Practice (pp. 425–436). New York: Guilford Press.

Taylor, B.M., Pearson, P.D., Garcia, G.E., Stahl, K.A.D., and Bauer, E.B. (2006). Improving Students Reading Comprehension. In K.A.D. Stahl, and M.C. McKenna (Eds.), Reading Research at Work: Foundations of Effective Practice (pp. 303–315). New York: Guilford Press.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Garcia, G.E., Pearson, P.D., Taylor, B.M.,Bauer, E.B., and Stahl, K.A.D. (2011). Socio-Constructivist and Political Views on Teachers' Implementation of two Types of Reading Comprehension Approaches in Low-Income Schools. Theory Into Practice, 50(2): 149–156.