The study took place in 115 fourth-grade classrooms in 31 schools in Florida. Pre- and post-test assessments were administered to students in a quiet place in their school and group-administered assessments were conducted in the students’ classroom.
At participating schools, at least 40 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Of the fourth-grade participants, 52 percent were female. Of the third- and fourth-grade participants, 39 percent were African American, 53 percent were White, and 8% percent were multiracial or other race/ethnicity categories not specified in the study. (Note: The student race/ethnicity data were provided for the entire sample, which included both third- and fourth-grade students. This review focuses on only the fourth-grade students in two of three treatment conditions – i.e., the Enacted Reading Comprehension [Enacted RC] intervention group and the business-as-usual comparison group – however, disaggregated student characteristics data were not provided.) On average, the fourth graders were 9.8 years old (SD = 0.50) at the time of initial screening.
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. The four interventions implemented in this study, each a component of Comprehension Tools for Teachers (CTT), provided tier 2 instruction to small groups of four or five students. Each intervention was provided for 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, for 10-12 weeks. This review focuses on the Enacted RC intervention, which applied the principles of embodied cognition (i.e., the idea that understanding follows the construction of sensorimotor stimulations) to improve understandings of the texts. Overall, the intervention aimed to systematically build students’ understandings of abstract concepts by starting with concrete simulation strategies (e.g., moving hands together to illustrate an earthquake) and moving to more abstract concepts (e.g., alternately circling each hand to illustrate opposing sides of an argument in persuasive/argumentative texts). The intervention culminated with the students reading the novel, "A Single Shard." The characters in the book experience internal conflicts and moral dilemmas, which could be portrayed with gestures. More specifically, the intervention was composed of three phases of lessons. The first phase, which lasted about three weeks, was the most concrete. During this phase, the students read books about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados. During the second phase, which lasted about two weeks, the students read and wrote persuasive texts focusing on opposing opinions. During the third phase, which lasted about five weeks, the students read "A Single Shard" both during lessons and at home. On average, students attended 36 of 40 lessons.
The comparison condition was business-as-usual. Comparison group students participated in their regular classroom instruction. The instruction focused on reading comprehension, strategies, discussions about texts, building vocabulary in context, writing, and decoding/encoding. The researchers conducted brief observations of classrooms as well as discussions and surveys with teachers and concluded that generally, there was good quality instruction that followed the districts’ core literacy curricula. The core literacy curricula adopted by the districts included "Treasures," "Wonders," "Open Court Imagine," and "Journeys."
Support for implementation
The intervention was implemented by instructional assistants (IAs), who were supervised by intervention coordinators. The intervention coordinator's role was specific to the intervention. In other words, the IAs who implemented the Enacted RC intervention were supervised by Enacted RC intervention coordinators. The intervention coordinators provided 6 hours of initial professional development specific to the Enacted RC intervention followed by 3 hours of booster professional development. The coordinators also maintained discussion boards where IAs could post questions and submit responses to weekly implementation quizzes. Additionally, all IAs were trained to use a token economy system for behavioral management. Within the first few weeks of the study, coordinators observed each IA and provided immediate feedback. Then, coordinators monitored the IAs’ adherence to scripted lesson plans and quality of implementation. All intervention sessions were recorded; each week, to rate the fidelity of implementation as well as provide feedback and support, one session per IA was reviewed.