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Intelligent Tutoring Using The Structure Strategy To Improve Reading Comprehension Of Middle School Students

Year: 2003
Name of Institution:
Pennsylvania State University
Goal: Development and Innovation
Principal Investigator:
Meyer, Bonnie J.F.
Award Amount: $1,170,618
Award Period: 3 years
Award Number: R305G030072


Co-Principal Investigators: Kay Wijekumar and Wendy Middlemiss

Structured Abstract

Purpose: Learning to read is fundamental to learning and life-time success. Some students have difficulties understanding what they read, not because they can't read at all, but because of how they read. The purpose of this project is to develop and test the efficacy of various features of a web-based intelligent tutor designed to teach middle school students who are struggling readers how to use the structure of the text to help them understand what they are reading. Students are taught to recognize common organizational structures used in expository texts (such as comparison, problem/solution, cause/effect, sequence, description, or listing) and how to use those structures to help them identify the main ideas in expository texts.

Population: Participating students include fifth and seventh grade students from four diverse school districts serving suburban or rural communities that include minority and low-income families

Research Design and Methods: The researchers are carrying out three studies of various features of the web-based tutor. The researchers are developing and pilot testing the web-based tutor in the project's first year. Following that, in the first study students are randomly assigned to use the tutor programmed to provide either simple or more advanced responses to their input, and either with or without the option of being able to choose what passages they practice their reading on. In the second study the researchers are interviewing students to discover how well they understand the structure strategy. In the third study, students are being randomly assigned either to a group whose use of the tutor is programmed to adjust to the individual student's learning progress, or to a group with a tutor that delivers the standard intelligent tutoring of the structure strategy.

Project Website:

Related IES Projects: Efficacy and Replication Research on the Intelligent Tutoring System for the Structure Strategy—Rural and Suburban Schools Grades 4, 5, 7, and 8 (R305A080133 ) and Improving Reading Comprehension of Middle Grades English Language Learners by Combining Structure Strategy with Web-Based Adaptive Tutoring for EL Learners (SWELL) (R305A120593)


Book chapter

Meyer, B.J.F., and Wijekumar, K. (2007). A Web-Based Tutoring System for the Structure Strategy: Theoretical Background, Design, and Findings. In D.S. McNamara (Ed.), Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies (pp. 347–374). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Meyer, B.J.F., and Wijekumar, K.K. (2011). Individualizing a Web-Based Structure Strategy Intervention for Fifth Graders' Comprehension of Nonfiction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(1): 140–168.

Meyer, B.J.F., Wijekumar, K., Middlemiss, W., Higley, K., Lei, P., Meier, C., and Spielvogel, J. (2010). Web-Based Tutoring of the Structure Strategy With or Without Elaborated Feedback or Choice for Fifth- and Seventh-Grade Readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(1): 62–92.

Wijekumar, K., and Meyer, B.J.F. (2006). Design and Pilot of a Web-Based Intelligent Tutoring System to Improve Reading Comprehension in Middle School Students. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 2(1): 36–49.

Wijekumar, K., Meyer, B.J.F., Ferguson, L., and Wagoner, D. (2006). Technology Affordances: The Real Story in Research With K–12 and Undergraduate Learners. British Journal of Educational Technology: Special Issue on Technology Effects, 37(2): 191–209.


Wijekumar, K., Meyer, B., and Spielvogel, J. (2005). Web-Based Intelligent Tutoring to Improve Reading Comprehension in Elementary and Middle Schools: Design, Research, and Preliminary Findings. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2005 (pp. 3206–3211). Chesapeake, VA: American Association for the Advancement of Computing Education.