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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of Earobics Step I in English Language Learners and Low SES Minority Children
Center: NCER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Anthony, Jason Awardee: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,659,751
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A080196
Description:

Purpose: Research demonstrates that high quality classroom instruction and supplemental interventions can help close the achievement gaps between typically developing children and those at risk for reading failure because of low levels of initial literacy, socioeconomic disadvantage, and learning English as a second language. Significantly, the best predictors of childrenís responses to classroom instruction and compensatory intervention tend to be the extent of their literacy and preliteracy skills before instruction begins. These effects of early literacy skills on later reading achievement highlight the need for early intervention. Earobics Step 1 is a widely used computer-based instructional literacy tutor that teaches phonological awareness, short-tem memory, sound discrimination, and letter-sound correspondence to children ages of 4 to 7. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of standard implementation of Earobics Step 1 in separate samples of low SES minority children and low SES English-language learners, and to compare the efficacy of standard implementation of this program to theoretically motivated variations in the programís phonological awareness instructional sequencing.

Project Activities: The research team is randomly assigning approximately 1,000 low SES kindergarteners to either the control condition or one of the experimental conditions. The experimental conditions consist of three variations of Earobics Step 1 (standard implementation, developmentally sequenced phonological awareness instruction, or reversed sequenced phonological awareness instruction). Children in the control condition participate in equal amounts of computer-assisted instruction in mathematics using widely used commercial programs. Childrenís learning of cognitive, literacy, and mathematics skills will be measured in both conditions at multiple time points during the year of intervention and at annual follow-up assessments through grade 2.

Products: Products from this project include published reports on the efficacy of a widely used computer-based literacy tutor for children ages 4 to 7.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of standard implementation of Earobics Step 1 and to compare the efficacy of standard implementation of this program to theoretically motivated variations in the programís instructional sequencing.

Setting: The proposed study is being implemented in public schools in Texas.

Population: Participants include low SES Hispanic English-language learners, and African American monolingual English speakers. Approximately 1,000 kindergarten children are participating in this four-year project.

Intervention: Earobics Step 1 is a computer-based literacy tutor for children ages 4 to 7. Colorful, interactive games with instructional feedback teach phonological awareness, phonological short-term memory, sound discrimination, and letter-sound correspondence.

Research Designs and Methods: Children are being randomly assigned to either the control condition or one of the experimental conditions. The experimental conditions consist of three variations of Earobics Step 1 (standard implementation, developmentally sequenced phonological awareness instruction, or reversed sequenced phonological awareness instruction). Instructional variations are based on research and theory that indicate these sequences should yield faster and broader learning than the commonplace implementation.

Control Condition: Children in the control condition are participating in equal amounts of computer-assisted instruction in mathematics using widely used commercial programs.

Key Measures: The research team is measuring childrenís learning of cognitive, literacy, and mathematics skills at multiple time points during the year of intervention and at annual follow-up assessments through grade 2. Assessments include relevant subtests from the Woodcock Johnson III and the Developing Skills Checklist, as well as the Stanford Achievement Tests and the Texas Primary Reading Inventory.

Data Analytic Strategy: Within a multilevel modeling framework, the research team is using individual growth curve analysis and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) techniques to test for main effects of intervention group and interaction effects with demographic sample on childrenís rates of learning and short- and medium-term achievement. Group contrasts will examine the relative efficacy of variations in Earobics Step 1 on targeted and nontargeted cognitive and literacy skills.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Anthony, J.L., Williams, J.M., Duran, L., Gillam, S., Liang, L., Aghara, R., Swank, P., Assel, M., and Landry, S. (2011). Spanish Phonological Awareness: Dimensionality and Sequence of Development During the Preschool and Kindergarten Years. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(4): 857–876.

Foster, M.E., Anthony, J.L., Clements, D.H., and Sarama, J.H. (2015). Processes in the Development of Mathematics in Kindergarten Children From Title 1 Schools. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 140: 56–73.


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