Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Project i-SMART: Intervention to Support Mindset and Reading Together
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Cho, Eunsoo Awardee: Michigan State University
Program: Reading, Writing, and Language      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/16/2021 – 8/15/2025) Award Amount: $1,949,450
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A210013

Co-Principal Investigator: Philip Capin, Sharon Vaughn; University of Texas, Austin

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and evaluate an intensive, supplemental reading intervention (i-SMART) that embeds growth mindset supports to improve reading and motivational outcomes for students with significant reading difficulties (RD) in the middle grades (Grades 4–5), including those with learning disabilities (LD). Reading interventions for students in middle grades yield smaller effects than those in primary grades. One possible reason why existing reading interventions show limited effects is because they do not address the motivational difficulties of students with RD. Many students in middle grades show low motivation and are disengaged from reading. Low motivation further prevents students with RD from responding to reading instruction and exacerbates reading difficulties. Given the pivotal role mindset plays in shaping motivational responses to academic challenges and the bidirectionality of reading and motivation relation, researchers will adapt existing practices for promoting growth mindsets and integrate them within an already developed and validated reading intervention to meet the specific cognitive and motivational needs of students with RD in middle grades.

Project Activities: The research team will develop i-SMART through an iterative process in collaboration with teachers who deliver supplementary reading interventions to students with RD and their students in Years 1–2. This process involves collecting and analyzing both qualitative (focus group interviews) and quantitative (usability survey) data as well as fidelity observation data. In Year 3, the research team will examine the promise of i-SMART in comparison to a reading-only intervention and typical school instruction with a randomized control trial pilot study. During the pilot study, the research team will determine the intervention's implementation cost. In Year 4, they will conduct 6-month follow-up assessments, analyze data, and disseminate the findings.

Products: The project will result in a fully developed reading intervention (i-SMART curriculum), information about the cost of implementing the intervention, peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and additional dissemination products that reach diverse education stakeholders, including practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in public elementary schools in central Michigan and Texas.

Sample: The study sample will include middle-grade students with RD, including students with LD, who score at or below the standard score of 85 on a standardized reading comprehension measure. I-SMART will be used by teachers who deliver supplementary reading instruction to students with RD in schools. In Years 1 – 2, the sample will include 12 teachers and their students (small groups of 4–5) who will participate in the development process through two improvement cycles (one small group per teacher for each cycle for 6 teachers) and the feasibility study (one small group per teacher for 6 teachers). In Year 3, 150 students with RD will participate in the pilot study, and the research team will collect follow-up data from these students in Year 4.

Intervention/Factors/Assessment: I-SMART will be a year-long, daily small group intervention consisting of approximately 70 lessons (30–45 minutes) organized equally into two phases. Primary components of i-SMART include (1) building vocabulary and content knowledge; (2) explicit reading comprehension strategy instruction; (3) collaborative learning; (4) building growth mindset knowledge through mindset texts; and (5) application of growth mindset knowledge to reading activities. This last component includes explicit instruction on goal setting and monitoring related to learning, effort, and strategy use, as well as using self-talk to reinforce the growth mindset message. Phase I will focus on the explicit teaching of the five components. Phase II will focus on supporting students as they apply the reading and growth mindset strategies in self-directed, collaborative groups following a gradual release of responsibility model.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will develop the intervention through an iterative process in collaboration with students and teachers using usability surveys, focus group interviews, and fidelity observation in Years 1–2. In Year 3, an RCT will be conducted to explore the promise of i-SMART, comparing three conditions: i-SMART, reading-only, and business-as-usual. In Year 4, the research team will administer 6-month follow-up assessments.

Control Condition: In the reading-only condition, students will receive a base reading program without the growth mindset components and engage with expository texts instead of growth mindset texts. The business-as-usual control condition will receive school-implemented typical instruction.

Key Measures: Measures in Years 1–2 will include usability surveys, focus group interviews, and a fidelity observation checklist. In Years 3 - 4, the Growth Mindset Questionnaire, the Motivation for Reading Questionnaire, and the Reading Engagement Index will be used to assess the impact of i-SMART on mindset and reading motivation/engagement. Student outcome measures of reading comprehension and fluency, including Strategy Use and Main Idea Measure, Gates MacGinitie Reading Test, and the Gray Oral Reading Test-5, will be used to evaluate the impact of i-SMART. The Sight Word Reading Efficiency subtest of the Test of Word Reading Efficiency 2 will be assessed at pretest as a moderator.

Data Analytic Strategy:  The researchers will use qualitative and descriptive data analyses for data gathered in Years 1 – 2 from usability surveys, focus group interviews, and fidelity observations. In Years 3 – 4, they will analyze data collected from the pilot study using multilevel regression models to understand the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes. They will use regression analyses to compare outcomes for students in the i-SMART condition to the reading-only condition and compare outcomes for students in the i-SMART condition to the business-as-usual condition.

Cost Analysis: Researchers will conduct a cost analysis of i-SMART as part of the Year 3 RCT pilot study using the ingredients method to determine the total cost of the intervention beyond what schools typically spend on personnel, facilities, materials, equipment, training, and other costs of providing instruction. Using the effect sizes from the regression analyses conducted to understand the promise of the intervention, the researchers will explore the cost-effectiveness of i-SMART as the cost per standard deviation gain in key student outcomes over the comparison conditions.