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IES Grant

Title: Application of Explanatory Item Response Models to Understand Influence of Reader-Text Interactions on Reading Comprehension and Reading Intervention Effects
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Francis, David Awardee: University of Houston
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (08/31/2017–08/30/2019) Award Amount: $599,875
Goal: Exploration Award Number: R305A170251

Co-Principal Investigator: Paulina Kulesz

Purpose: Reading comprehension is viewed by researchers as being the product of complex interactions between a reader, a text, and an activity, but little research has been conducted to look at these specific interactions. At the same time, it is common for reading interventions to show positive effects on tests designed by researchers but not on standardized tests. The purpose of this project is to explore the interaction between readers and texts and how this interaction differs for different kinds of tests.

Project Activities: In this study, researchers will combine pre-existing datasets from three grants from the Reading for Understanding Initiative (Understanding Malleable Cognitive Processes and Integrated Comprehension Interventions for Grades 7–12; Examining Effective Intervention Targets, Longitudinal Intensity, and Scaling Factors for Pre-K to 5th Grade Student Comprehension; The Language Bases of Reading Comprehension). Researchers will use these data to build a model of how the interactions between reader, text, and activity develop over time from 1st through 12th grade. They will also examine how these interactions are related to how students perform on different kinds of reading tests.

Products: Products include evidence of the interactions between reader, text, and activity for students in grades 1 through 12. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Data that will be used in this study were collected in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Sample:  Data from approximately 14,050 students in 1st through 12th grade will be used in this study.

Intervention: In this exploratory study, the researchers are examining the effects of interactions between reader and text from 1st through 12th grade. Researchers will explore how these interactions affect performance on researcher-developed and standardized assessments, and how researcher-developed and standardized assessments compare in their sensitivity to these interactions. Additionally, because it is often the case that interventions aimed at improving reading comprehension outcomes show effects on researcher-developed assessments but not standardized assessments, the researchers will examine the extent to which interactions between reader, text, and activity help to explain the moderating effect of test type on the association between reading interventions and reading outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: In 2010, the Institute funded a number of teams under the Reading for Understanding Initiative. Each team was tasked with conducting basic/exploratory research on reading comprehension, developing interventions to improve reading comprehension, and testing those interventions for efficacy. Data from three of the teams will be used in the current study. These three teams each administered a number of standardized reading tests, including tests of reading comprehension, word reading, and reading fluency. The teams also administered tests of background knowledge, vocabulary, and working memory, though common measures were not administered in all three of the projects, and many of the measures were researcher-developed. In the present study, the researchers will begin by combining data sets from the three Reading for Understanding teams identified above.

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

Key Measures: The Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests–Reading Comprehension (GMRT-RC) will be used as the main standardized reading comprehension measure. This measure was administered to all students by the three Reading for Understanding teams whose data is being used in this study. Reading comprehension will also be measured using one researcher-designed reading comprehension measure from each of the three teams (The Assessment of Social Studies Knowledge-Reading Comprehension; Reading Comprehension Measure; LIM-CALI). Other measures include standardized and researcher-developed measures of background knowledge (Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests–Background Knowledge; The Assessment of Social Studies Knowledge–Background Knowledge), vocabulary (Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests–Vocabulary; Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Fourth Edition–Word Classes), word reading (Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement–Letter Word Identification), reading fluency (Test of Word Reading Efficiency [TOWRE], and working memory (Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities–Numbers Reversed; Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing [CTOPP]–Memory for Digits Reversed).

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use exploratory Item Response Theory (EIRT) models to investigate characteristics of reader-text interactions with the ultimate goal of creating a developmental model for students in 1st through 12th grade. Models will include both the GMRT-RC and researcher-developed measures, and will include interactions between grade, reader characteristics, and text characteristics. Discriminant analysis will be used to examine whether specific dimensions of comprehension are or are not common across assessments. Sensitivity analyses will be conducted to examine whether results hold depending on the software being used.

Related IES Projects: Understanding Malleable Cognitive Processes and Integrated Comprehension Interventions for Grades 7–12 (R305F100013); Examining Effective Intervention Targets, Longitudinal Intensity, and Scaling Factors for Pre-K to 5th Grade Student Comprehension (R305F100027); The Language Bases of Reading Comprehension (R305F100002)