The study took place at an urban middle school within four classroom sections taught by two teachers (two classroom sections for each teacher).
The study involved two female reading/language arts teachers who volunteered to participate. One teacher had a bachelor’s degree, was certified in special education, and taught a reading resource class. The second teacher had a master’s degree, was certified in special education and language arts, and taught a language arts class for students with reading difficulties. The student sample included 13 girls (4 in the intervention group and 9 in the comparison group) and 21 boys (12 in the intervention group and 9 in the comparison group). There were 7 Black (4 in the intervention group and 3 in the comparison group), 12 Hispanic (7 in the intervention group and 5 in the comparison group), and 15 White participants (5 in the intervention group and 10 in the comparison group). Five students were in grade 6 (2 in the intervention group and 3 in the comparison group), 16 in grade 7 (7 in the intervention group and 9 in the comparison group), and 13 in grade 8 (7 in the intervention group and 6 in the comparison group). Seventeen students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (8 in the intervention group and 9 in the comparison group), 28 were classified as having a learning disability (13 in the intervention group and 15 in the comparison group), and 6 were classified as having another kind of disability (e.g., health impairment, speech impairment, emotional disorder) (3 in the intervention group and 3 in the comparison group).
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. Each teacher was trained on Computer-Assisted Collaborative Strategic Reading (CACSR) implementation procedures and, together with a trained research assistant, implemented CACSR with students in the intervention group. Implementation of the intervention program consisted of three components: overview of CACSR, Learning Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR), and Using CSR to Learn. During the overview phase (one session), students were provided with an overview of CACSR, including a description of the study and the CACSR program, an explanation and demonstration of the program, and guided practice with the program. During the Learning CSR component (five sessions), students were introduced to four strategies, including when and how the strategies are used and why they are important. The strategies – (1) preview, (2) click and clunk, (3) get the gist, and (4) wrap-up – were introduced with an overview, modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. During the Using CSR to Learn phase (11 to 17 sessions), students applied the four strategies they had learned to reading passages at their instructional level. The 50-minute instructional sessions took place twice per week for 10 to 12 weeks. On the other three days of the week, the intervention group students participated in the same reading instruction as the comparison group students. During intervention sessions, students first worked in pairs to increase the interaction between students and to facilitate discussions, rather than each student interacting individually with the CACSR program. To pair students, the researchers first ranked students according to reading ability and then split the list of ranked students in half. Then, the top-ranked student in the higher-performing half was paired with the top-ranked student in the lower-performing half, and so on. Within each pair, students read expository passages and then discussed and answered questions about each passage. Students took turns leading the partner reading and controlling the keyboard and mouse. Also, the teacher and research assistant provided supplemental, explicit instruction in the comprehension strategies based on the students’ data (obtained from the CACSR program) at the beginning of each lesson.
There were two comparison group classrooms. In one teacher’s comparison group class, students received resource reading instruction. In the other teacher’s comparison group class, students received language arts instruction. These daily classes were 50 minutes in duration. Both classes received fluency instruction during which students paired up, and one partner would read a passage while the other listened and helped with vocabulary. After one minute, the students switched roles. Both teachers also provided vocabulary instruction (with use of a dictionary), and while the first teacher provided comprehension instruction (i.e., reading and answering questions about passages), this teacher did not teach comprehension strategies. Observations revealed that teachers did not use CSR strategies in the comparison classes.
Support for implementation
Teachers were trained on CACSR implementation procedures, including four comprehension strategies of CSR, the partner reading strategy, how to use the CACSR program, and the daily lesson format. Five to seven times during the intervention period, the researcher and trained research assistant used a 3-point Likert-type scale to assess the fidelity of the teachers’ CACSR implementation. The authors reported high levels of fidelity of implementation by the teachers.