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IES Grant

Title: Writing Intensive Reading Comprehension: Effects of Comprehension Instruction With and Without Integrated Writing Instruction on Fourth and Fifth Grade Students' Reading Comprehension and Writing Performance
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Collins, James Awardee: State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,500,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305G040153

Purpose: Low comprehenders have difficulty using writing to make sense of their reading, and this is a serious problem because tasks that require students to write about texts are ubiquitous at all levels of schooling and assessment. At the same time, research on reading comprehension and research on writing make little mention of validated interventions for helping children to develop abilities for writing about text. It is usually assumed that high comprehenders can use writing as an instrument for understanding reading and low comprehenders cannot. This study challenges that assumption by testing whether purposeful, integrated reading and writing instruction improves reading comprehension and writing performance.

Population: Participants will be students in grades 4 and 5 in low-performing urban schools in Western New York. It is expected that the population from which the participants of the study will be sampled will reflect characteristics of the district: age range 9-12; 71.6% will be minority students; 46.39% will be poor, with 73.2% receiving free or reduced lunch.

Intervention: The WIRC intervention will integrate reading comprehension instruction with writing instruction in collaborative, theme-based reading/writing workshops. The intervention will emphasize work (hence the acronym) which places writing in the service of understanding reading and will include interactive discussions, writing activities, and planning and problem-solving tasks designed to scaffold the writing and reading of struggling comprehenders.

Research Design and Methods: Research methods will consist of quantitative and qualitative study of the effects of Writing Intensive Reading Comprehension (WIRC) instruction for randomly assigned students in fourth and fifth grade classrooms in low-performing urban schools. Quantitative methods will focus on a three-year experimental study of the WIRC intervention using a randomized pretest-posttest control group design. Outcome measures will be reading comprehension and writing performance. Qualitative methods will be used throughout the research to design, implement, and observe the intervention and will consist of videotaped and audiotaped classroom observations, participant observations, teacher logs, fidelity instruments, instructional materials, student writing and comments, teacher and student interviews, and formative assessments.

Project Website:


Book chapter

Srihari, S., Collins, J., Srihari, R.K., Babu, P., and Srinivasan, H. (2006). Automatic Scoring of Handwritten Essays Using Latent Semantic Analysis. In H. Bunke, and L. Spitz (Eds.), Document Analysis Systems (pp. 71–83). New Zealand: Springer Nelson.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Collins, J.L., Lee, J., Fox, J.D., and Madigan, T.P. (2017). Bringing Together Reading and Writing: An Experimental Study of Writing Intensive Reading Comprehension in Low-Performing Urban Elementary Schools. Reading Research Quarterly, 52(3), 311–332.

Srihari, S., Collins, J., Srihari, R., Srinivasan, H., Shetty, S, and Brutt-Griffler, J. (2008). Automatic Scoring of Short Handwritten Essays in Reading Comprehension Tests. Artificial Intelligence, 172: 2–3.