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IES Grant

Title: Training Indexing To Enhance Meaning Extraction In Young Readers
Center: NCER Year: 2003
Principal Investigator: Glenberg, Arthur Awardee: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $751,190
Award Number: R305H030266
Description:

Thirty-eight percent of U.S. 4th graders cannot read and understand a paragraph in a children's book, and the percentages for struggling minority students and students from low-income families are even higher. In this project the researchers are using advances in cognitive science and the study of language development to create and test an intervention to enhance young children's reading comprehension. The purpose is to develop a theoretically and empirically-based approach to improving young children's comprehension.

Structured Abstract

Thirty-eight percent of U.S. 4th graders cannot read and understand a paragraph in a children's book, and the percentages for struggling minority students and students from low-income families are even higher. In this project the researchers are using advances in cognitive science and the study of language development to create and test an intervention to enhance young children's reading comprehension. The intervention is based on the Indexical Hypothesis, which theorizes that good readers associate words and phrases with objects and actions in the environment or mental images of objects and actions and use their ideas of these objects and images to make sense of what they are reading. The intervention is designed to teach children how to perform indexing, first with objects, and then with mental images. Children read texts describing a toy scenario arrayed in front of them (e.g., a farm scenario with a barn, animals, tractor, etc.), and, after reading a sentence, they manipulate the toys to correspond to the sentence. Following this manipulation training, children then learn to imagine manipulating (IM), in which they picture in their minds the objects and actions that a given sentence refers to. Training on the Indexical Hypothesis makes explicit that part of the reading process that requires the reader to link written words to what the words mean.

The researchers are carrying out four controlled experiments with random assignment to test the Indexical Hypothesis and demonstrate the intervention's efficacy with a culturally diverse sample of first and second grade students. In the first experiment the researchers are comparing students' ability to perform an IM task depending on whether their preparation for the task includes physical manipulation of objects, seeing those objects without touching them, or having those objects described to them verbally. The second experiment is designed to determine whether IM training increases students' ability to use their reading skills to carry out a practical task, such as following written instructions to build a particular object out of blocks. In the third experiment, the researchers are working with experimental classroom teachers to integrate IM into their curricula for half a year, and then comparing these students' reading comprehension skills with those of students in classrooms who continue to receive regular instruction. The fourth experiment involves following the progress of the children who participated in the third experiment for another half year to assess whether the IM intervention has enduring effects.

Project Website: http://psych.wisc.edu/glenberg/glenberglab/GLindex.html

Publications from this project:

Brown, M.C., McNeil, N.M., and Glenberg, A.M. (2009). Using Concreteness In Education: Real Problems, Potential Solutions. Child Development Perspectives, 3 (3): 160–164.

Glenberg, A.M. (2005). Lessons from the Embodiment of Language: Why Simulating Human Language Comprehension is Hard. In A. Cangelosi, G. Bugmann, R. Borisyuk (Eds.), Modeling language, cognition and action: Proceedings of the Ninth Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (pp. 17–30). River Edge, NJ US: World Scientific Publishing Co.

Glenberg, A.M. (2006). Radical Changes In Cognitive Process Due To Technology: A Jaundiced View. Pragmatics and Cognition, 14 (2): 263–274.

Glenberg, A.M. (2008). Toward The Integration Of Bodily States, Language, and Action. In G. R. Semin, E. R. Smith (Eds.), Embodied Grounding: Social, Cognitive, Affective, and Neuroscientific Approaches (pp. 43–70). New York, NY US: Cambridge University Press.

Glenberg, A.M., Brown, M., and Levin, J.R. (2007). Enhancing Comprehension in Small Reading Groups Using a Manipulation Strategy. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32: 389–399.

Glenberg, A.M., Gutierrez, T., Levin, J.R., Japuntich, S., and Kaschak, M.P. (2004). Activity and Imagined Activity Can Enhance Young Children's Reading Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96: 424–436.

Glenberg, A.M., Jaworski, B., Rischal, M., and Levin, J.R. (2007). What Brains Are For: Action, Meaning, and Reading Comprehension. In D. McNamara (Ed.), Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies (pp. 221–240). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Marley, S.C., and Levin, J.R. (2006). Pictorial Illustrations, Visual Imagery, and Motor Activity: Their Instructional Implications for Native American Children with Learning Disabilities. In R.J. Morris (Ed.), Disability Research and Policy: Current Perspectives (pp. 103–123). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Marley, S.C., Levin, J.R., and Glenberg, A.M. (2007). Improving Native American Children's Listening Comprehension through Concrete Representations. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32: 537–550.


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