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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of Early Language Comprehension Individualized Instruction (ELCII)
Center: NCER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Kendeou, Panayiota Awardee: University of Minnesota
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (08/01/2022 – 07/31/2027) Award Amount: $3,799,419
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R305A220107

Co-Principal Investigators: McMaster, Kristen; Kohli, Nidhi

Purpose: This project team will evaluate the efficacy of a supplemental instructional program called ELCII (Early Language Comprehension Individualized Instruction). ELCII, developed with prior IES funding, provides opportunities for supplemental early instruction in language comprehension skills, which are much needed to prevent long-term negative reading outcomes. Specifically, ELCII focuses on training a core language comprehension skill, inference making, in kindergarten. The project will examine (a) the efficacy of ELCII for improving kindergartners' inference and language comprehension, accounting for vocabulary and executive functions; (b) longer-term transfer to reading comprehension in first grade; (c) teachers' fidelity of implementation and its influence on student outcomes; and (d) the costs and cost-effectiveness of ELCII compared to business as usual.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will recruit participants, refine the existing ELCII program, and fully integrate ELCII in an interactive web-based application called Inference Galaxy. In Years 2–5, the research team will implement the study, following and collecting data from 3 cohorts of teachers/classrooms and their students for a year. In Year 5, the research team will collect post-test data from the last cohort, analyze the study data, finalize the cost analysis, and disseminate project findings.

Products: The research team will generate new evidence on the efficacy of ELCII in K-2 students at scale. Researchers will disseminate project information and findings through reports and peer-reviewed publications to reach state, local, and school district administrators, teachers and other school staff, and the education research community. In addition, further development of the interactive web-based application, Inference Galaxy, will enable researchers to scale-up and commercialize a one-stop solution of interactive and innovative ELCII assessment, instruction, and intervention for inference making in K-2 students.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in kindergarten classrooms in both urban and rural districts in Minnesota.

Sample: During the three years of study implementation, the research team will recruit one of three cohorts of 62 kindergarten classrooms each year. Combined, 186 kindergarten teachers/classrooms and approximately 3,720 students will participate.

Intervention: ELCII, developed with prior IES funding, was designed to improve early language and reading comprehension by focusing on a core language comprehension skill, inference making. Interactive online versions of 20 15–20-minute learning modules engage students to:

  1. learn academic vocabulary words that are key to ideas in the video
  2. view age-appropriate videos (half fiction and half nonfiction)
  3. respond to inferential questions online (during viewing) or offline (after viewing)
  4. receive scaffolding and specific feedback after each question

In addition, 20 15–20-minute read-aloud lessons take the form of whole-class interactive book reading and questioning activities led by a teacher.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will test the efficacy of ELCII using a two-level cluster randomized control trial design. The research team will randomly assign half of the 186 classrooms to the treatment ELCII condition and half to the business-as-usual condition.

Control Condition: In the study, classrooms assigned to the control condition will use business-as-usual inference and language comprehension instructional practices.

Key Measures: The research team will measure students' inference making (Minnesota Inference Assessment) and language comprehension (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals: Fifth Edition; Understanding Spoken Paragraphs) before and after the ELCII intervention. Researchers also will measure decoding (Formative Assessment System for Teachers earlyReading), vocabulary (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals: Fifth Edition Word Class) and executive function (Minnesota Executive Function Scale) as potential moderators of intervention effects.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use mixed-effect models to determine whether the impacts of the ELCII treatment intervention on student learning are superior to those of the business-as-usual condition. Researchers also will use class-level (e.g., district) and individual-level students' demographic characteristics (gender, ethnicity, English Language Learner Status, and free/reduced price lunch status) data within a mixed-model framework to conduct sub-group analyses and understand for whom the impact effects of ELCII on student outcomes are obtained. Researchers will use descriptive data analysis and inferential statistics to investigate teacher fidelity of implementation of ELCII.

Cost Analysis: During Year 5, the research team will carry out a cost analysis following the "ingredients" method. Researchers will track personnel, facility, material, and client input costs and use the CostOut tool to evaluate costs across conditions.

Related IES Projects: Early Language Comprehension Individualized Instruction (ELCII) (R305A170242); Developing a Technology-Based Early Language Comprehension Intervention (TELCI) (R324A160064)