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IES Grant

Title: College Ready: Reading and Writing to Learn
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Ray, Amber Awardee: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2021 – 6/30/2025) Award Amount: $700,000
Type: Training Award Number: R324B210014

Mentors: Harris, Karen; Monda-Amaya, Lisa

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research for improving the reading and writing abilities of high school students with or at risk for high-incidence disabilities. The PI will also participate in mentoring and training activities to develop knowledge and skills related to the iterative development of interventions, effective professional development, multilevel modeling, and grant writing. Increasing the reading and writing capacities of students with high-incidence disabilities is essential to improving their educational outcomes in high school, college, and beyond. There are currently no interventions that focus on enhancing the abilities of high school students with or at risk for high-incidence disabilities to read and write for the purpose of learning. To address this need, the PI will develop and assess a new intervention, College Ready: Reading and Writing to Learn. This intervention will support students in developing the ability to utilize technology tools to identify quality source texts, complete a close reading of each source text, and plan and write an informative essay that integrates and incorporates information across these source texts. These capabilities are essential to succeed in high school and will make a substantial contribution in preparing students to be successful in college.

Structured Abstract

Research Plan: The purpose of the research is to develop, refine, and assess College Ready: Reading and Writing to Learn over the course of 4 years. In Year 1, the intervention and all related materials will be developed with feedback from high school teacher focus groups, college professor consultants, and mentors. Students will participate in feasibility studies in Years 2 and 3 and a pilot study in Year 4. Educational outcomes  will include (1) informative writing genre knowledge, (2) identifying credible source texts, (3) learning from text, (4) writing an informative essay using central ideas and key supporting details from source texts, (5) self-efficacy for reading and writing scale, and (6) the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test reading comprehension subtest and essay composition subtest. Students' use of technology tools will also be examined. After receiving the intervention and posttests, students will participate in a social validity focus group. Teachers in the treatment and control conditions will complete a survey about their background information, current reading and writing teaching practices, and their knowledge and perceptions of quality writing and writing instruction. Fidelity of implementation will be measured for teachers in the treatment group and these teachers will participate in a social validity focus group. Data from various sources such as teacher focus groups, college professor consultants, mentor meetings, and observation field notes will be used to guide development and revision of the intervention. Quantitative data will be analyzed using multilevel modeling to examine the potential promise of College Ready: Reading and Writing to Learn for students' reading and writing development.

Career Development Plans: The career development plan is guided by four goals: (1) enhancing knowledge about iterative development of interventions, (2) developing expertise in components of effective professional development, (3) training in multilevel modeling for school-based research, and (4) further preparation in grant writing and management. To meet these goals, the PI will engage in mentoring, directed readings, courses and workshops in advanced statistical methods and research design, and grant writing workshops and webinars.