Reading for Understanding Across Grades 6 through 12: Evidence-Based Argumentation for Disciplinary Learning
Purpose: Project READI (Reading, Evidence, and Argumentation in Disciplinary Instruction) defines reading for understanding in adolescence as the ability to engage in evidence-based argumentation across multiple texts and supports its learning in three disciplines: history, science, and English literature. Disciplinary literacy involves complex critical analysis processes as well as close attention to text. The research team proposes a model that captures these processes while attending to the psychological and social challenges of adolescence. Central to this model is the necessity of viewing evidence-based argumentation as an activity situated in a sociocultural context. This work will contribute to expanding extant reading comprehension models and produce a set of fully tested Evidence-Based Argument Instruction Modules (E-B AIMS) that exemplify core design principles. Each module will include: (1) exemplar curriculum units built on developmental progressions in each content area (history, science, and literature); (2) formative assessments that document student learning and guide instructional planning integral to the units; (3) SenseMaker, a software tool for supporting evidence-based argumentation in the disciplines; and (4) professional development materials (including videotaped instruction, student work samples, and lesson designs) critical to preparing teachers to support instruction that creates opportunities for students to engage in reading for understanding. Partners include researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Northern Illinois University (NIU), DePaul University, WestEd, Northwestern University (NU), University of Chicago (UC), University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), American Institute for Research (AIR), and Inquirium LLC. A number of school personnel and organizations are serving as key collaborators for the duration of this work.
Grade Span: Grades 6–12
School Partners: Antioch Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, Dixon Unified School District, Hayward Unified School District, Jefferson School District, Leyden Township School District, Lincoln Unified School District, Maine Township School District, Mountain View Los Altos High School District, New Haven Unified School District, Oakland Unified District, San Lorenzo Unified School District, San Mateo Union High School District, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and Winton School District
Basic Cognitive Studies: The basic studies are organized around three lines of work, each of which take place in the disciplines of science, history, and English literature. In one line of work, researchers examine the skills and processes students engage in when building text representations from multiple sources. For example, the team seeks to identify the characteristics of texts and text sets that promote a student's ability to analyze and synthesize arguments across multiple sources. In a second line of work, researchers explore the scaffolding necessary to support appropriate implementation of these skills in the context of specific tasks and activities (e.g., task instructions, examples, feedback). The third line of basic cognitive studies seeks to identify the "optimal" design characteristics of tasks and texts intended to support comprehension for readers with different knowledge, skills, ages, and dispositions, and includes an explicit focus on questions of developmental appropriateness of these tasks and texts as readers move from 6th to 12th grade.
Key Personnel: Led by M. Anne Britt (NIU), Carol D. Lee (NU); and Jennifer Wiley (UIC), with Susan Goldman (UIC), Thomas Griffin (UIC), Peter Hastings (DePaul Univ), Kim Lawless (UIC), Joe Magliano (NIU), Brad Pillow (NIU), and Stephen Briner (UIC). Supported by: Matthew Brown (Inquirium LLC), Will Brown (WestEd), Irisa Charney-Sirott (WestEd), Gayle Cribb (WestEd), Stephanie Davenport (retired teacher), Julia Emig (Literacy Curriculum Specialist, CPS), MariAnne George (UIC), Rita Jensen (WestEd), Sarah Levine (NU), Michael Manderino (NIU), Martin Moe (Social Studies Curriculum Specialist, Chicago Public Schools), Jim Pellegrino (UIC), Taffy Raphael (UIC),Cynthia Shanahan (UIC), and Ursula Sexton (WestEd)
Intervention Development Studies: The intervention development research effort began in years 1 and 2 with the basic cognitive research studies, and observational studies. Observational studies of existing approaches to disciplinary literacy instruction inform the prototyping of the E-B AIMS. In addition, a 15-month, mixed-method longitudinal study is being undertaken with a subset of low-income African-American students in order to understand how cognitive and psycho-social processes develop over time in the disciplinary context of English literature. Analyses will focus on the relationship between youth's perceptions of cultural identity and socialization, school climate, and reading performance across time. This study will provide information about the kinds of instruction that seem to help students whose struggles with school performance are not primarily due to poor academic skills.
Beginning in year 1, concurrent, multiple, design-based studies in classrooms were used to iteratively design and refine the E-B AIMS. Surveys of student engagement, classroom artifacts, classroom observations, teacher interviews, and student interviews inform the development and refinement of the E-B AIMS. The teacher networks (UIC Teacher Network, WestEd Teacher Inquiry Network) play an integral role in informing the development and preparing teachers to understand and implement the E-B AIMS approach. The team is also developing a prototype software tool called SenseMaker designed to provide student workspaces that can be used individually or collaboratively to help them in interpreting tasks, activating prior knowledge, and constructing knowledge to facilitate evidence-based argumentation.
The E-B AIMS reflect a set of design principles that specify essential knowledge, skills, and practices of reading for understanding in each discipline as well as instructional strategies for supporting students in acquiring them. The instructional strategies include classroom norms and routines that provide cognitive and social support for students engaging with complex texts to develop evidence-based arguments that address important disciplinary questions. Modules are targeted at one of three grade-band proficiency levels: 6–8, 9/10, or 11/12 (beginning, middle, advanced) that reflect developmentally appropriate goals and learning objectives. Tasks, text sets, instructional supports (e.g., worksheets, activities), formative and summative assessments constitute the elements of the modules. Modules are co-designed by teachers and university-based researchers and content experts. They are intended for use with students and as objects of teacher inquiry in preparation for implementing E-B AIMs and creating their own instantiations of modules that promote reading to accomplish learning objectives in their discipline.
The fully developed E-B AIMS and SenseMaker tool will be piloted to determine whether they are working as intended to improve students' reading for understanding, content knowledge, vocabulary and academic language, participation in evidence-based argument, discourse, text-based problem solving strategies, engagement, persistence, and self-efficacy in academic tasks. A key issue in these studies is to determine relationships between extent and duration of intervention and degree of effect on these various outcomes. It is expected that changes in some (e.g., persistence, self-efficacy) will depend on longer term intervention than changes in others (e.g., content knowledge acquisition).
Key Personnel: Led by: Cynthia Greenleaf (WestEd), Carol Lee (NU), Kimberly Lawless (UIC), Taffy Raphael (UIC), Cynthia Shanahan (UIC), with Matt Brown (Inquirium LLC), Willard Brown (WestEd), Gayle Cribb (WestEd), Irisa Charney-Sirott (WestEd), Susan Goldman (UIC), Marianne George (UIC), Monica Ko (UIC), Sarah Levine (NU), Joe Magliano (NIU), Michael Manderino (NIU), Stacy Marple (WestEd), James Pellegrino (UIC), Joshua Radinsky (UIC), Teresa Sosa (UIC), and Margaret Spencer (UC). Supported by: Lauren Amos (AIR), M. Ann Britt (NIU), Rick Coppola (Literature Teacher), Davido DuPree (UPenn), Camille Elly (Literature Teacher), Suzanne Fagley (UPenn), Johanna Heppeler (History Teacher), Jodi Hoard (History Teacher), Rita Jensen (WestEd), Adriana Jaureguy (Science Teacher), Cindy Litman (WestEd), Ben Loh (Inqirium LLC), and Ursula Sexton (WestEd)
Efficacy Studies Final versions of the interventions will be tested in middle and high school classrooms. Randomized control studies are planned to test the effectiveness of the E-B AIMS in improving teachers' knowledge and practices related to teaching reading for understanding as well as student outcomes in one discipline in middle and high school. The work will explore how evidence of impact varies as a function of the quality of the implementation of the module for engaging in the practices of argumentation in the disciplines. Randomized control studies will evaluate the impact of E-B AIMS against traditional classroom instruction. Outcome measures include proximal and distal assessments of reading for understanding. Quality of implementation will be assessed using classroom observations, lesson logs, and instructional artifacts.
Key Personnel: Led by: M. Anne Britt (NIU), Susan Goldman (UIC), Cynthia Greenleaf (WestEd), Thomas Griffin (UIC), MariAnne George (UIC), Thomas Hanson (WestED), Kimberly Lawless (UIC), Carol Lee (NU), Joe Magliano (NIU), James Pellegrino (UIC), Jennifer Wiley (UIC),and Mariya Yukhymenko (UIC)
Project Website: http://www.projectreadi.org/index.html
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