The Language Bases of Reading Comprehension
Purpose: The primary purpose of this project is to increase fundamental understanding of the role of lower and higher level language skills in listening and reading comprehension, and develop effective classroom-based approaches to increase language, general knowledge, and comprehension skills in prekindergarten through grade three. Researchers will begin by conducting basic studies to identify promising targets for intervention. Interventions will be developed and refined through an iterative process, and then tested for efficacy. This project explicitly focuses on the role of language skills in reading comprehension—not only how these skills contribute to reading comprehension but also how these skills can be rigorously developed in students to impact reading comprehension. School-based personnel, including administrators and teachers, will have important roles in all phases of this research, particularly the iterative development of language-focused interventions that can be feasibly and reliably implemented in classroom environments. Partners include researchers at Ohio State University (OSU), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), University of Kansas (KU), Arizona State University (ASU), and Lancaster University in the UK (LU). A number of school organizations are also serving as key collaborators for the duration of this work.
Grade Span: Prekindergarten through Grade 3
School Partners: Hamilton School District, Worthington School District (Ohio), Lee's Summit R–7
School District (Missouri), Kyrene Elementary School District (Arizona), Gilbert Public Schools (Arizona), Mesa Unified School District (Arizona), Lincoln Public Schools (Nebraska)
Basic Cognitive Studies: The explicit contributions of lower and higher level language skills during early and middle childhood to individual differences in development and achievement of listening and reading comprehension will be studied. A geographically diverse sample of 1,279 prekindergarten through third grade children will complete a comprehensive battery of measures each year of the study. A cohort of 286 English language learners in prekindergarten will also be followed longitudinally. Measures of language skills, listening and reading comprehension, working memory and cognitive processes, phonological awareness and decoding, behavior regulation, motivation, and home and classroom environmental attributes will be analyzed using multivariate, multilevel, latent variable analysis. Analyses will be conducted to identify malleable factors to inform the development of interventions.
Key Personnel: Stephen Petrill (OSU), Hugh Catts (KU), Kate Cain (UL), Tiffany Hogan (UNL), James Bovaird (UNL), Richard Lomax (OSU), Jill Pentimonti (OSU)
Intervention Development Studies: Findings from the basic cognitive studies will inform the iterative development of a set of classroom-based language interventions intended to increase children's lower and higher level language skills. The design of the intervention package (one for each grade level) will address eight elements: instructional context; scope and sequence; instructional techniques; book selection and materials; lesson format; intensity and duration; curriculum-based assessment; and professional development. Each intervention package will be developed in two instantiations: the comprehensive instantiation, in which grade-specific scripted lesson plans encompass five different types of lessons; or the light instantiation, in which grade-specific scripted lesson plans encompass five different types with increased opportunities for practice. Similar interventions for English language learner students will be developed for use in bilingual instruction in prekindergarten.
Using a design experiment approach, the interventions will be developed and subjected to five phases of revision during the first 3 years of the project. Measures of fidelity of implementation will be developed for use in the iterative refinement as well as future efficacy studies.
Key Personnel: Laura Justice (OSU), Shayne Piasta (OSU), Shelley Gray (ASU), Adelaida Restrepo (ASU), Diane Nielson (KU), Tiffany Hogan (UNL), Mindy Bridges (KU)
Efficacy Studies: The efficacy of the interventions will be tested in a design in which teachers within schools are randomly assigned to use the new interventions. Teachers will be randomly assigned within each grade level within each of the four sites to participate in one of three study conditions: the comprehensive instantiation, the light instantiation, or a business-as-usual condition. Teacher and child data on major outcomes of interest will be collected in the fall and spring. Classroom observations, teacher surveys, and teacher logs will be utilized to provide information on the quantity and quality of classroom language and reading instruction. Multi-level models will be used to determine the impact of the comprehension interventions relative to the comparison condition. Interaction terms will be included to examine teacher and child factors that may influence intervention effects.
Key Personnel: Laura Justice (OSU), Shayne Piasta (OSU), Shelley Gray (ASU), Adelaida Restrepo (ASU), Diane Nielson (KU), Ann O'Connell (OSU), Mindy Bridges (KU)
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