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An examination of the effect of customized reading modules on diverse secondary students’ reading comprehension and motivation


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This research sought to add to a body of knowledge that is severely underrepresented in the scientific literature, the effects of technological tools on reading comprehension and reading motivation in diverse secondary students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The study implemented an independent silent reading (ISR) program across a 5-month semester in an urban public high school and included 145 participants from nine 10th grade literature classes. The control group took part in no ISR, one treatment group participated in weekly ISR read from a textbook, and another treatment group participated in weekly ISR read from a computer module designed to address essential components of reading. Students were measured on global reading comprehension, text-specific reading assessments, and reading motivation. After controlling for initial skill and disposition levels, the results indicated that students from both ISR groups made greater gains than the control group in global reading comprehension, while the computer reading module group outperformed the textbook group and the control on text-specific assignments and increased their reading motivation to a greater degree than those in the other conditions. This research offers much-needed data on secondary students’ reading achievement and disposition and provides evidence that ISR implemented through the use of instructional technology and cognitive tools has broad potential to address development in these areas.
Content may be subject to copyright.
An examination of the effect of customized reading
modules on diverse secondary students’ reading
comprehension and motivation
Joshua A. Cuevas Roxanne L. Russell Miles A. Irving
Published online: 24 March 2012
ÓAssociation for Educational Communications and Technology 2012
Abstract This research sought to add to a body of knowledge that is severely under-
represented in the scientific literature, the effects of technological tools on reading com-
prehension and reading motivation in diverse secondary students from lower
socioeconomic backgrounds. The study implemented an independent silent reading (ISR)
program across a 5-month semester in an urban public high school and included 145
participants from nine 10th grade literature classes. The control group took part in no ISR,
one treatment group participated in weekly ISR read from a textbook, and another treat-
ment group participated in weekly ISR read from a computer module designed to address
essential components of reading. Students were measured on global reading comprehen-
sion, text-specific reading assessments, and reading motivation. After controlling for initial
skill and disposition levels, the results indicated that students from both ISR groups made
greater gains than the control group in global reading comprehension, while the computer
reading module group outperformed the textbook group and the control on text-specific
assignments and increased their reading motivation to a greater degree than those in the
other conditions. This research offers much-needed data on secondary students’ reading
achievement and disposition and provides evidence that ISR implemented through the use
of instructional technology and cognitive tools has broad potential to address development
in these areas.
Keywords Instructional technology Reading comprehension Motivation
Secondary students Adolescents Reading modules
J. A. Cuevas (&)
North Georgia College and State University, Dahlonega, GA, USA
R. L. Russell
University of Phoenix, Phoenix, USA
M. A. Irving
Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Education Tech Research Dev (2012) 60:445–467
DOI 10.1007/s11423-012-9244-7
Reading is one of the most essential components of learning. From elementary school
through college, every content area relies on students’ ability to read and process text as the
main vehicle for transmitting information. Yet despite how essential reading is to learning
in general, there are troubling trends within education in the United States regarding
literacy. Nearly three decades ago, in an extensive and influential observational study on
the state of public education in the nation, Goodlad (1984) concluded public school stu-
dents were spending alarmingly little time engaged in actual reading during the hours they
spent in school. Little appears to have changed in this regard since then. In 2005, Moss
argued that students continued to do little textbook reading either in school or at home,
which corresponds with the anecdotal reports of teachers who contend that many students
will not read academic material. If this is indeed the case, the consequences would be
profound, because students who do not read regularly would be unlikely to improve their
skills in any meaningful way, and as a consequence, their learning across the content areas
would likely be stifled.
A variety of studies have found support for the premise that repeated cognitive activity
in reading can improve comprehension. Hasselbring and Goin (2004) discovered that the
variables that correlated most strongly with reading comprehension ability were the
number of books read and the amount of time spent reading. Having students read more is
an obvious remedy to improve literacy, yet the problem lies in ensuring that students
actually follow through with their reading. Teachers have almost no control over students’
activities outside of school, and the tumultuous home lives of many students, particularly
the poorest readers from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, do not create an
environment that is conducive to highly focused reading practice. In light of this, in-school
reading is advocated by wide range of experts in the field (Burke 2000; Garan and
DeVoogd 2008; Guthrie et al. 1999; Ivey and Broaddus 2001; Kelley and Clausen-Grace
2006; Moss 2005; Tracey and Morrow 2006; Trudel 2007). Yet, asking high school
students to sit quietly and read from books at their desks is no simple answer. Pearson and
Gallagher (1983) show that instruction of reading comprehension requires that students be
engaged in order to move them towards independent learning. Twenty-first century stu-
dents may require more dynamic and differentiated options for reading in order to stay
engaged (Prensky 2005). This article presents support for the construction of reading
modules designed to address sound literacy practices, attract reader’s eyes and attention,
and allow for differentiated reading opportunities in the classroom and reports the results
of an experimental study testing the effects of these reading modules in a high school
literature classroom. The experimental results reported here were part of a larger study, and
the broader findings relating to the psychology of reading are described in Cuevas (2010).
Independent silent reading (ISR)
In-school reading most often takes the form of sustained silent reading (SSR), a method
used predominantly in elementary schools that allows students to choose their own reading
material and read silently in class for a set period of time, usually 20–30 min (Krashen
2000; Marzano 2004; Pilgreen 2000). Traditionally, there is no assessment component to
SSR, and the freedom students have during the process is believed to increase motivation,
and by extension, reading ability. But in high schools the subject matter becomes more
specific and the curriculum has prescribed standards, so traditional SSR where students
choose their own reading material is a less practical option, and often not possible given
the constraints in place.
446 J. A. Cuevas et al.
Instead, ISR may be used, a method similar to SSR, except that ISR may take place with
assigned readings or with readings chosen by students and there may be an assessment
component, whereas SSR is predominantly a free-reading period with no assessment, and
as such is more narrowly defined. ISR can be more content-oriented than SSR, and students
could be assigned material relating to a broader thematic unit tied into the larger curric-
ulum, often a necessity in a high school classroom. While having students read assigned
material would be less likely to enhance reading motivation than would a program that
allowed them to choose their own books, the cognitive benefits should be similar as long as
each student regularly experiences the stimulation and engagement in the cognitive pro-
cesses associated with reading. Assessments could also be introduced with ISR, which may
be required at the high school level to verify whether students were meeting the curricular
standards with their reading. Additionally, Kelley and Clausen-Grace (2006) and Trudel
(2007) found that students’ reading achievement increased when assessment components
were added to the standard SSR model. The researchers surmised that the assessments
motivated the students who had previously failed to complete their reading to actually do so.
Because ISR is a more general term than SSR and can encompass a wider range of methods,
in the subsequent discussion ISR will be used to refer to in-class reading techniques.
Scaffolding and technological applications
There is the possibility that ISR can be paired with scaffolding techniques, which are
believed to assist with language development (Vygotsky 1986) and could be instrumental
in stimulating gains in literacy. Cognitive tools serve as scaffolding devices to enhance
cognition, guide cognitive processes, extend intelligence, assist learners in accomplishing
complex cognitive tasks, engage the learner, and facilitate higher-order learning (Liu and
Bera 2005). Technological applications may used to combine cognitive tools with the ISR
method to address various components that appear to contribute to reading development.
There is strong support in the literature for four factors widely believed to be essential to
improving reading comprehension in adolescents and adults: (1) improving vocabulary; (2)
prior knowledge and background information; (3) inferencing and prediction; (4) and
cognitive and metacognitive strategies.
Vocabulary has consistently been shown to have a strong relationship with reading
comprehension, one that is often reciprocal. Gains in vocabulary have been associated with
gains in comprehension, while gains in comprehension have accompanied gains in
vocabulary (Alfassi 2004; Beck et al. 1982; Connor et al. 2004; Cromley and Azevedo 2007;
Leone et al. 2005; Nelson and Stage 2007; Ouellette 2006), and both have been linked to
reading amount (Joshi 2005). Schema theory suggests that background information and
prior knowledge are essential to learning in general (Marzano 2004; Merriam et al. 2007)
and text comprehension in particular (Tracey and Morrow 2006). A number of researchers
have shown that schema-related knowledge made significant contributions to reading ability
(Cromley and Azevedo 2007; Dewitz and Dewitz 2003; Dinnel and Glover 1985; Guthrie
et al. 1999; Kozminsky and Kozminsky 2001; Snapp and Glover 1990), often through the
use of advance organizers, which help focus attention on material at hand by activating prior
knowledge and providing background information relevant to the text (Dinnel and Glover
1985; Snapp and Glover 1990; Thompson 1997,1998; Tyler et al. 1983). Likewise, aspects
of Constructivism and Psycholinguistic Theory suggest that inferencing and prediction are
critical to the reading process (Tracey and Morrow 2006), and empirical research has
supported those claims (Allbritton 2004; Dewitz and Dewitz 2003; Hock and Mellard 2005;
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 447
Klin et al. 1999; Lea et al. 2005). Finally, cognitive and metacognitive strategies such as
generating questions, answering questions, summarizing, and paraphrasing have been
shown to affect comprehension by assisting with the encoding of information (Dinnel and
Glover 1985; Snapp and Glover 1990; Thiede et al. 2003 and possibly by improving
metacognition and in turn metacomprehension (Dunlosky and Lipko 2007; Hock and
Mellard 2005).
The use of technology may offer an efficient and effective delivery system that can
address these four components of reading comprehension within the context of ISR. A
number of studies on computer-assisted reading programs have shown promising results.
Salomon et al. (1989) found that technology could be used as a scaffolding tool to assist
students in functioning in their zone of proximal development as well as provide ‘‘meta-
cognitivelike’’ guidance as they read, and students appeared to develop transferable skills
that generalized to other reading tasks, suggesting a broad improvement in literacy. Liu and
Bera (2005) created a multilayered instructional package meant to increase motivation,
engagement, and learner control which was shown to benefit students’ metacognition and
executive control.
Likewise, Salmeron et al. (2005) used technological scaffolding to help readers increase
their comprehension by allowing them freedom to access only the cognitive tools they
chose. The students were able to concentrate on specific areas they lacked knowledge in,
and therefore improved performance overall. In another study, the use of technology
appeared to improve comprehension by encouraging predictive inferences that would have
been difficult to prompt solely through text-based readings (Allbritton 2004). Similarly,
Magliano et al. (2005) compared a paper-based reading instruction program to its com-
puter-based counterpart and found that the two programs produced similar positive results,
but the latter also appeared to induce students to use more effective reading strategies
which could be transferred to future reading tasks.
Importantly, computer-based reading programs have the potential to impact reading
motivation, which in turn could fuel later gains in reading comprehension. Motivation is a
central issue in reading comprehension, and by extension all learning, yet little empirical
research has been published on the academic adaptations of older adolescents and high
school students, so there is an urgency to gather information in the area. The National
Reading Panel (NRP) noted that there have not been a sufficient number of studies
examining the effects of ISR on motivation (National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development 2000). Yet some evidence does exist from the field of instructional tech-
nology. Guthrie et al. (2006) noted that formats designed specifically to appeal to students
can create situational interest, and if situational interest in reading tasks is repeatedly
triggered through the use of stimulating tasks, novel formats, and hands-on activities, a
more generalized, global, long-term interest may develop. Modern students may respond
better to sensory stimulation through technology than to textbooks, particularly in the areas
of interest and motivation. Howard et al. (2004) found that the use of technology was
particularly effective when implemented to support learning for otherwise disaffected
students, with lower level readers making greater gains than higher level readers through
the use of a self-paced hypermedia program designed to enhance student interest.
The use of technology may also make it possible to provide task variability, which can
be beneficial to students’ motivation and learning. African American students have been
found to exhibit less intrinsic reading motivation than European American students
(Mucherah and Yoder 2008) and display poorer reading performance (Bailey and Boykin
2001). Bailey and Boykin found that African American students displayed greater moti-
vation in high variability formats, showing more interest and exerting more effort and task
448 J. A. Cuevas et al.
persistence, which in turn translated to higher academic performance. If students increase
their amount of reading through ISR, and the ISR time could be accomplished through
the use of a computer-based reading program designed to address the four components of
comprehension, there is the potential to affect gains in two essential areas: First, additional
growth in reading comprehension may be stimulated beyond what would be expected from
ISR alone. Also, situational interest could translate into long term gains in reading moti-
vation which may then develop into later academic success.
To date, the vast majority of empirical research in reading has been conducted with
college level, middle school, or elementary subjects, with far fewer studies being con-
ducted with high school students. High school students present a rather unique dynamic in
comparison to the other sample populations. Their cognitive functions (Merriam et al.
2007; Tennant 2002) and reading comprehension levels (Cromley and Azevedo 2007)
resemble and are classified with adults’, but they are taking part in compulsory schooling.
In contrast, college students attend school by choice and therefore would logically be more
receptive to new material and academic work in general. The dearth of data on high school
subjects and their distinctive place in the educational hierarchy speak to the need for
research in the area. For many students, high school will be the last formal education they
will receive, so it is essential to identify methods that are effective in producing gains in
literacy at such a pivotal time in their lives.
Current study
The current study was designed to test the efficacy of technology-supported ISR in high
school students’ reading comprehension and reading motivation. The research design was
intended to meet the methodological criteria employed by the NRP for scientific reading
studies (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000): It was
experimental in nature, focused on secondary school students, assessed multiple groups,
included a control group, included a pretest, and statistically controlled for possible non-
equivalence of the participants. Meeting these criteria was an essential aspect of the design,
particularly considering that in 2000 the NRP did not find a sufficient number of studies on
the use of ISR that met these qualifications, and since that time, there has not been an influx
of experimental research in the area.
A single intervention strategy may not be sufficient to address the variety of student
needs in secondary school because it is likely that the compounding environmental factors
they have experienced over the years have created great differences in their abilities.
Instead, a combination of student-centered strategies may lead to better outcomes. To this
end, a computer reading module package was developed by the researchers, an instructional
technologist and an educational psychologist, that would allow students to participate in ISR
while also offering them scaffolding tools designed to address vocabulary, prior knowledge,
inferencing and predicting, and cognitive and metacognitive strategies. The purpose of these
cognitive tools was to increase learner control, student engagement, and reading motivation
by providing an appealing format in which students could access the scaffolding devices
that met their particular cognitive needs. Therefore, the central research question was
whether ISR could be combined with scaffolding tools via the modules to influence stu-
dents’ reading ability and reading motivation to a greater extent than traditional ISR
practiced from a textbook or the methods employed with the control group.
A change in reading ability was expected to emerge between the control group and the
two treatment groups, or between the no-ISR group and the two ISR groups, with the
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 449
treatment groups showing more improvement. It was also predicted that a difference in
reading skills might appear between the two ISR groups, with the computer reading
module group showing more growth than the group who read from the textbook. Addi-
tionally, a change on the motivation variables was expected to emerge between the
computer module ISR group and the other groups, due to the module’s predicted ability to
stimulate interest and engagement.
The study was conducted at a large urban public high school of approximately 2,200
students located near Atlanta, Georgia. The school serves students in 9th through 12th
grade and qualifies as a Title I school. The vast majority of students come from working
class and lower middle class socioeconomic backgrounds, with 60 % of the school’s
students qualifying for free or reduced meals (The Governor’s Office of Student
Achievement 2010). The year prior to the study, the school had a graduation rate of
78.6 %, slightly lower than the state average of 78.9 %. It had met AYP requirements for
two of the previous 4 years. The racial demographics of the school were as follows: 73 %
African American, 19 % Caucasian, with 8 % comprised of other minorities.
Initially, the participants consisted of 155 students from nine 10th grade American
literature courses, although ten students transferred out or dropped out during the semester
so that data from 145 students was used in the final analysis. All students were between 15
and 17 years of age. The racial makeup of the participants closely mirrored that of the
school: 76 % African American, 21 % Caucasian, and 3 % other. Females comprised 46 %
of the final sample. No special education students or English language learners were
included in the sample. Three conditions were used in the study, and the final data was
derived from 70 students in the control group, 45 in the first treatment group, and 30 in the
second treatment group. A more detailed explanation of the groups will follow below in the
‘‘ Procedures’ section.
All classes were from the college prep level, which is the general academic level for
courses at the high school, and the school randomly assigned those students to the classes
in this study. All regular college prep level students who took American literature at the
school during the semester participated in the study. A wide range of literacy levels were
represented, with students from the final sample initially reading between a 5.7 grade level
and college level at the beginning of the semester.
Reading materials
Fourteen canonical passages from American literature were selected as the reading
material for the weekly interventions. Of these, ten were converted to electronic format to
be read during weekly ISR sessions by the second treatment group via school computers. A
detailed list can be found below in Appendix. All selections were chosen from the standard
course textbook, and all can be commonly found in American literature textbooks
throughout public schools in the U.S. The passages ranged from 1,618 to 7,096 words with
450 J. A. Cuevas et al.
a mean of 3,582 words. The Flesch-Kincaid grade level for the passages ranged from 4.7 to
12.0 with a mean grade level of 7.86. Ten of the passages were narratives, three were
essays, and one was a public document. A main consideration was that students had to be
able to read each selection in a single class period, so passages were relegated to those that
students could reasonably be expected to read in approximately 60 min.
Achievement measures
The Gates-MacGinitie Reading Skills Test, Level 10/12, Fourth Edition, Form S was used
as a pre assessment to gauge baseline reading comprehension ability levels during the first
2 weeks of the semester. The Gates-MacGinitie Reading Skills Test, Level 10/12, Fourth
Edition, Form T was used as a post assessment and was administered during the final
2 weeks of class for this 18-week course. The Gates-MacGinitie is a commonly employed
reading test designed to assess students from 10th through 12th grade and takes approx-
imately 75 min to administer. There are two subsections to the test, a vocabulary section
and a reading comprehension section. The reading comprehension subsection consists of
48 questions and the vocabulary section consists of 45 questions. Raw scores from the
reading comprehension subsection were converted to extended scale scores, which were
used in the statistical analysis. The purpose of the extended scale scores is to provide a
common metric with equivalent intervals to compare group means. Student scores from
Form S served as the covariate in subsequent ANCOVA analyses in order to statistically
control for possible nonequivalence of the participants, while its counterpart from Form T
served as the dependent variable.
Another achievement measure was comprised of a series of text-specific reading
assessments. Four reading comprehension tests based on specific reading assignments were
developed by the researchers in order to ascertain whether any of the groups outperformed
the others on those assignments. These assessments were given during the 5th, 8th, 12th
and 13th of fourteen total interventions. Each reading test consisted of 20 multiple choice
questions made up of a combination of knowledge level and higher order questions. The
knowledge level questions assessed whether students knew factual information from the
text, while the higher order questions asked students to use inference to access higher
levels of Bloom’s taxonomy such analysis and evaluation. An example of one of the text-
specific reading assessments can be found in Appendix 2. The assessments were admin-
istered to all groups the day following the particular reading assignment.
Disposition measure
Schutte and Malouff (2007) recently developed a motivation scale specifically for adult
readers, the Adult Motivation for Reading Survey (AMRS), a theoretical extension of the
Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ), which was developed by Wigfield and
Guthrie (1997) and has provided a great deal of the current information we now possess on
reading motivation (Mucherah and Yoder 2008). Because the cognitive functions (Merriam
et al. 2007; Tennant 2002) and literacy skills (Cromley and Azevedo 2007) of high school
students resemble and are often classified with those of adults, the AMRS is an appropriate
tool for assessing reading motivation at the secondary level. The AMRS tests overall
reading motivation and four component dimensions believed to contribute to global
reading motivation. It is comprised of 21 questions scored on a 5-point Likert scale, from
‘Strongly Disagree’’ to ‘‘Strongly Agree’’. The authors found strong internal consistency
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 451
for the 21 items, which revealed a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.85. The AMRS was analyzed only
for overall reading motivation in this study.
Three groups of 10th grade college prep level students from nine different American
literature classes taught by three different teachers took part in the study—a control group,
treatment 1, and treatment 2. For the sake of clarity, the first treatment group will sub-
sequently be referred to as the ‘‘textbook ISR’’ group, and the second treatment group will
be referred to as the ‘‘module ISR’’ group. The groups were selected so that the conditions
were dispersed between the teachers, with each teacher teaching two different conditions to
control for teacher effects: teacher 1 taught a control condition and a textbook ISR con-
dition, teacher 2 taught a control condition and a module ISR condition, and teacher 3
taught a textbook ISR condition and a module ISR condition.
All classes from all groups followed the same curriculum and pacing guides. All groups
studied selections from the same textbook, the Holt Elements of Literature Fifth Course,
Essentials of American Literature. All students’ reading comprehension performance and
reading motivation were measured across a single semester on a block schedule. The block
schedule condenses a year’s worth of instruction and material into a single semester by
extending class time to a full hour and a half each day, so theoretically, the students were
assessed for a full school year’s content delivered over the span of 5 months. The semester
was comprised of 18 weeks, and 14 interventions occurred across the semester.
Control group
The control group covered the same reading material each week as the two treatment
groups, and did so in a fashion that the teachers normally employed in previous years. Each
teacher used a variety of methods to cover the material with the control classes but did not
have the classes engage in ISR. The methods included student read-alouds, teacher read-
alouds, short readings paired with teacher-led discussions, and small group readings such
as pair-share (two students) and reading circles (more than two students). The researchers’
hypothesis was that activities such as these may help students to learn the material, but that
many students would learn via listening rather than reading, and fewer students would read
consistently throughout the semester, leading to less uniform gains in reading compre-
hension than those students in the classes that took part in methodical ISR. The control
classes functioned like traditional literature classes with instructional time often devoted
towards historical context and the aesthetic qualities of the literature, but with less time
devoted to having each individual student read for prolonged periods. Therefore, if reading
amount outside of school was similar across students in all groups, which is likely con-
sidering the students were randomly assigned to the classes, each student in the control
group would read less frequently and less overall than those in the treatment groups.
Treatment groups: ISR
Both treatment groups took part in weekly in-class ISR paired with an accountability
measure. The method was structured like an assessment with students reading indepen-
dently and silently, while the teacher had limited interaction with the students during the
process, with the exception of classroom management procedures. The method was
452 J. A. Cuevas et al.
entirely student centered except for the use of adjunct questions, which were assessed after
the completion of each intervention. Students answered open-book adjunct questions as
they read so that their reading could be verified. The questions were open-ended and
consisted of a combination of knowledge-based and higher order questions. Open ended
questions were considered necessary because if multiple choice questions were used, it
would have allowed those students who did not want to read the option to guess instead.
The questions required short answer responses that asked students to summarize, para-
phrase, and make inferences. These questions may have served to stimulate metacognition
or to help the readers emulate the self-questioning that high functioning readers do
spontaneously. Researchers have found improved reading performance when measures of
accountability were introduced alongside silent reading (Kelley and Clausen-Grace 2006;
Trudel 2007), while others have noted the importance of having additional supports to
ensure participants attend to the intervention (Thompson 1997). In traditional SSR students
recognize that no assessments will follow to verify their reading and often fail to follow
through with it, especially if the text is at or above their reading level. When accountability
measures such as adjunct questions or verbal summarizing were introduced, students were
more likely to read and understand the material.
All teacher-student interaction regarding the literature occurred post-intervention, when
reading comprehension could no longer be affected by the teacher for that particular
selection. This ISR process was designed to foster active engagement in reading on the part
of each and every student. The treatment groups devoted more uniform time to reading
than those in the control group, ensuring that all students in class consistently read for
themselves. Therefore, during this study, the amount of time students spent engaged in
active reading differed primarily according to the amount of independent reading they did
in class, which in turn differed according to condition.
Treatment group 1: textbook ISR group
The students in the textbook ISR group read silently from the standard American literature
textbook for approximately 1 h in a single sitting each week. They answered open-book
adjunct questions as they read so that their reading could be verified. The questions were
open-ended and consisted of a combination of knowledge-based and higher order questions.
Open ended questions were considered necessary because if multiple choice questions were
used, it would have allowed those students who did not want to read the option to guess
instead. The questions required short answer responses that asked students to summarize,
paraphrase, and make inferences. Researchers have found improved reading performance
when measures of accountability were introduced alongside silent reading (Kelley and
Clausen-Grace 2006; Trudel 2007), while others have noted the importance of having
additional supports to ensure participants attend to the intervention (Thompson 1997).
Treatment group 2: module ISR group
The module ISR group read the same literary selections as the control group and the
textbook ISR group but did most of their reading on computers rather than from the
textbook. Like the textbook ISR group, the module ISR group read silently for approxi-
mately 1 h each week and answered the same open-book adjunct questions while they read.
However, the module ISR group received additional intervention layers delivered via a
computer module format designed specifically to assist with comprehension. Like the
control and textbook ISR groups, the module ISR group read on fourteen different weeks,
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 453
but nine of the assignments were completed with the use of the computer module, while
five were text-based interventions identical to those administered to the textbook ISR
group. Initially, ten computer module interventions had been scheduled, but one was
cancelled due to a computer lab scheduling conflict.
The computer reading modules were developed by the researchers and included a
number of cognitive tools and scaffolding devices meant to improve comprehension. The
modules were constructed on a PowerPoint template, and students read the material indi-
vidually by clicking through the slideshows at their own pace. Orienting instructions have
been found to be beneficial in helping adults attend to reading comprehension tasks
(Thompson 1997) and were placed at the beginning of the slideshows to advise the readers
of the usefulness and importance of the additional tools at their disposal. Advance orga-
nizers were provided to stimulate background knowledge, activate schema, and help gen-
erate predictions. Questions were presented that asked the students to paraphrase the
information contained in the advance organizers in writing to encourage them to encode that
information into memory. In order to trigger inferences and predictions, probe words from
within the text that were central to its meaning flashed across the screen prior to certain
chunks of text. A vocabulary function allowed students to scroll over words in the text to
reveal their meaning as they were used within the context of the passage. Students answered
adjunct questions that may have served to stimulate metacognition, because answering the
questions would help make the students aware of their level of understanding of the text.
The questions were embedded within the module on the screen so that students would not
have to look away from the text to consider the questions. All these tools—the advance
organizers, the probe words, the vocabulary function, the adjunct questions—combined to
create a layer of cognitive strategies to assist the students with reading comprehension.
All analyses were conducted in two ways: First, the textbook ISR and module ISR groups
were collapsed to create a single ISR group to compare the overall effects against the
performance of the control group. Next, each analysis was run comparing all three con-
ditions (control, textbook ISR, module ISR) as separate independent variables in order to
identify whether the performance of students in either of the treatment conditions differed
significantly from one another or from the control group. ANCOVA and repeated measures
ANOVA were used to test for change in skills and disposition across the study because
they are effective in controlling for initial levels. The homogeneity of slopes assumption
was tested on each relationship prior to running the ANCOVA analysis, and none of the
relationships were found to violate the assumption, indicating that the use of ANCOVA
was appropriate in each instance.
Achievement measures
Of the 156 students who took the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test, 5 students missed the
pretest, 8 students missed the posttest, 10 students dropped out or transferred out, 2
students refused to complete the test, and 26 students’ scores had to be removed due to
random guessing on either the pretest or the posttest, or 9.0 % of the total 289 tests
administered. Students’ scores were removed for random guessing based on chance level
results and visual inspection of the score sheets. This left 105 students who completed both
the pre and post tests (210 tests) in a valid fashion. This number is likely in line with the
454 J. A. Cuevas et al.
percentage of students who would randomly guess on any in-school assessment and
translates to between 2 and 3 students per class per assessment.
First, an ANCOVA analysis was conducted to compare the performance of the control
group to the combined ISR group (textbook ISR and module ISR) in reading comprehension.
The score from the reading subsection of the Gates-MacGinitie pretest was entered as the
covariate to control for initial ability levels, condition served as the independent variable, and
the students’ posttest scores constituted the dependent variable. When the control group was
compared to the combined ISR group the difference was significant, F(1, 104) =5.71,
p=0.019, d=0.61 indicating that students who took part in weekly ISR increased their
reading comprehensionability more than the students in the control group did. All three groups
were then compared, and the difference in this case was not significant, F(2, 103) =2.834,
p=0.063. Pairwise comparisons revealed that there was no difference between the textbook
ISR group and the module ISR group, p=0.914; the difference between the module ISR
group and the control group fell slightly short of statistical significance, p=0.057, d=0.63;
but there was a significant difference between the control group and the textbook ISR group,
p=0.041, d=0.59. These results indicate that the module ISR group and textbook ISR
group increased their performance similarly, but that only the performance of the textbook ISR
group met the threshold for statistical significance when compared individually to the control
group, while the performance of the module ISR group fell just outside that threshold, likely
due to the smaller sample size. But the combined ISR group showed a clear difference and
more pronounced improvement in reading comprehension than the students in the control
group did. Means and standard deviations for the reading comprehension analyses with
comprehension as the covariate can be found in Tables 1and 2.
Also of theoretical interest was whether differences emerged if initial total reading
ability was entered as the covariate with reading comprehension as the dependent variable.
The total reading ability score is created by combining vocabulary and reading compre-
hension scores and provides the best overall baseline measure for the skills that students
possessed at the beginning of the study. Each component part from the two subsections
provides an incomplete picture of the students’ overall initial ability levels. Moreover, a
reciprocal effect has been shown to exist between vocabulary and reading comprehension
with each component influencing the other. Initial vocabulary level has been found to
affect growth in reading comprehension (Alfassi 2004; Beck et al. 1982; Connor et al.
2004; Ouellette 2006), while gains in reading comprehension have been found to influence
vocabulary growth (Joshi 2005). Therefore, if only the reading comprehension subsection
was considered when controlling for initial levels, it ignores a major source of possible
influence on the dependent variable, the students’ initial skill levels in vocabulary, which
could affect students’ growth in reading comprehension.
For this reason the ANCOVA analyses were repeated using the total reading ability
scores as the covariate and reading comprehension as the dependent variable. When the
control group was compared to the combined ISR group in this way a significant difference
became apparent, F(1, 102) =9.847, p=0.002, d=0.57. In comparing all three groups,
significant differences again emerged, F(2, 101) =4.935, p=0.009. Pairwise comparisons
Table 1 Reading comprehen-
sion with comprehension as
covariate: control versus
combined ISR
Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 548.51 21.87 45
Combined ISR 561.27 20.23 62
Total 555.91 21.78 107
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 455
showed no difference between the textbook ISR and module ISR groups, p=0.741, but
significant differences between the control and textbook ISR groups, p=0.004, d=0.55,
and the control and module ISR groups, p=0.029, d=0.60. This analysis shows that when
taking initial total reading ability into account, instead of just initial reading comprehension,
the combined ISR groups improved substantially more than the control group in reading
comprehension. Additionally, when compared separately, both treatment groups improved to
a similar extent, and both treatment groups improved significantly more than the control
group. Because the results were more pronounced when considering initial vocabulary levels
via total reading ability in controlling for overall beginning skill levels, it underscores the fact
that the interventions appeared to target reading comprehension specifically. Means and
standard deviations for the reading comprehension analyses with total reading ability as the
covariate can be found in Tables 3and 4.
To test for differences on how each group performed on the individual reading
assignments, repeated measure ANOVAs were performed. Scores from students’ posttests
following the reading assignments on the 5th, 8th, 12th and 13th interventions were entered
as repeated measure dependent variables, while condition was entered as the between-
subjects variable. When comparing the control group to the combined ISR group, the
difference was found to be highly significant, F(1, 104) =9.104, p=0.003, partial
=0.080 with the combined ISR group outperforming the control group on each of the
four interventions. When all three groups were compared, the outcome again was highly
significant, F(2, 103) =5.587, p=0.005, partial g
=0.098. In this case the pairwise
comparisons revealed that there was no difference in the performance between the text-
book ISR and module ISR groups, p=0.162, and the difference between the control and
textbook groups fell just short of significance, p=0.055, but there was a highly significant
difference between the control and module ISR groups, p=0.002. This suggests that the
modules did assist students with comprehending material on the individual assignments.
The technological package encompassing the cognitive tools appeared to help students to
Table 2 Reading comprehen-
sion with comprehension as
covariate: control versus text-
book ISR versus module ISR
Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 548.51 21.87 45
Combined ISR 560.97 20.68 38
Module 561.75 19.93 24
Total 555.91 21.78 107
Table 3 Reading comprehen-
sion with total reading ability as
the covariate: control versus
combined ISR
Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 549.12 22.19 43
Combined ISR 561.27 20.23 62
Total 556.30 21.79 105
Table 4 Reading comprehen-
sion with total reading ability as
the covariate: control versus
textbook ISR versus module ISR
Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 549.12 22.19 43
Text 560.97 20.68 38
Module 561.75 19.93 24
Total 556.30 21.80 105
456 J. A. Cuevas et al.
better understand the specific stories they read even if that improved comprehension did
not generalize to the global Gates-MacGinitie measure. While the reading passages were
not equivalent in terms of difficulty, with by far the most abstract selection coming at the
end and all students struggling on that final assessment, the module ISR group outper-
formed the other two groups on all four passages. Means and standard deviations for the
scores from the individual reading assignments, along with the accompanying graphs, can
be found in Tables 5and 6and Figs. 1and 2.
Table 5 Scores from individual reading assignments: control versus combined ISR
Passage Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment Control 64.64 17.71 56
Combined ISR 72.60 12.63 50
Total 68.40 15.95 106
Narrative of Frederick Douglass Control 78.13 18.43 56
Combined ISR 82.30 12.58 50
Total 80.10 16.01 106
A Rose for Emily Control 75.45 21.69 56
Combined ISR 85.20 13.01 50
Total 80.05 18.69 106
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall Control 56.86 20.17 56
Combined ISR 67.10 15.05 50
Total 61.70 18.58 106
Table 6 Scores from individual reading assignments: control versus textbook ISR versus module ISR
Passage Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Dr. Heidegger’s
Control 64.64 17.71 56
Text 68.39 13.56 31
Module 79.47 6.85 19
Total 68.40 15.95 106
Narrative of
Frederick Douglass
Control 78.13 18.43 56
Text 82.10 13.02 31
Module 82.63 12.18 19
Total 80.10 16.01 106
A Rose for Emily Control 75.45 21.69 56
Text 81.94 13.58 31
Module 90.53 10.26 19
Total 80.05 18.69 106
The Jilting of
Granny Weatherall
Control 56.88 20.17 56
Text 66.29 15.49 31
Module 68.42 14.63 19
Total 61.70 18.58 106
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 457
Estimated Marginal Means
Estimated Marginal Means of MEASURE_1
Fig. 1 Graph depicting scores from individual reading assignments: control versus combined ISR
123 4
Estimated Marginal Means
Estimated Marginal Means of MEASURE_1
Fig. 2 Graph depicting scores from individual reading assignments: control versus textbook ISR versus
module ISR
458 J. A. Cuevas et al.
Disposition measure
Results from the AMRS were then analyzed to test for changes in overall reading moti-
vation. There were 117 students who completed both the pre and post AMRS assessments.
Again, the pretest scores were entered as the covariate, group as the independent variable,
and posttest scores as the dependent variable in ANCOVA analyses. When the control group
was compared against the combined ISR group, the results were significant F(1,
114) =6.20, p=0.014, d=0.62, suggesting that students in the combined treatment
group increased their overall reading motivation significantly more than those in the control
group. To examine the relationships in greater detail, all three groups were compared and
again a significant difference emerged F(2, 113) =3.84, p=0.024. Pairwise comparisons
revealed that there was not a significant difference between the control group and the
textbook ISR group, p=0.090, or the textbook ISR and module ISR group, p=0.229, but
that there was a significant difference in overall reading motivation between the control
group and the module ISR group, p=0.009, d=0.66. These results suggest that as a
whole, the students who took part in ISR for the semester increased their reading motivation
to a greater degree than those in the control group. Additionally, the most pronounced
changes in motivation occurred in the students who read from the computer modules, whose
reading motivation increased substantially more than those students in the control group.
The means and standard deviations for the AMRS survey can be found in Tables 7and 8.
The findings in regard to the effectiveness of the computer reading modules were prom-
ising. The analyses showed both ISR groups showed similar gains in academic achieve-
ment, specifically in global reading comprehension, and both showed greater growth in that
regard than the control group. There was, however, an important academic outcome that
the module ISR group alone benefited from. The computer reading package, with its
various cognitive tools, did appear to help students to better understand each specific
assignment they read, as the module ISR group showed the strongest performance on all of
the internal reading assessments that gauged how well students comprehended the weekly
reading passages. These results mirror those of Magliano et al. (2005) and Salmeron et al.
(2005), who found that technological scaffolding could assist students with their
Table 7 AMRS: control versus
combined ISR Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 2.93 0.72 51
Combined ISR 3.32 0.55 66
Total 3.15 0.66 117
Table 8 AMRS: control versus
textbook ISR versus module ISR Condition Mean Std. deviation N
Control 2.93 0.72 51
Text 3.32 0.58 43
Module 3.34 50 23
Total 3.15 0.66 117
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 459
comprehension of reading tasks at hand. But the module ISR group’s superior compre-
hension on individual assignments did not clearly generalize to the global measures of the
Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test, on which their performance mirrored that of the textbook
ISR group. Instead, the benefits appeared to be more localized. However, the module’s
apparent ability to help the students learn the material at hand is an extremely valuable
educational outcome in itself because it suggests that carefully constructed technological
packages can stimulate increased learning of difficult material.
Another important outcome emerged from the module ISR group. The students who read
from the computer modules showed a significant and pronounced increase in reading moti-
vation when compared to the control group. Indeed, the module ISR group’s increase in
motivation was largely responsible for the difference the combined ISR group showed in
contrast to the control group. The results in regard to the change in reading motivation
experienced by the students who read from the modules are promising and are consistent with
the findings of Howard et al. (2004) and Liu and Bera (2005), who argued that technology
could enhance academic motivation in modern students. It was predicted that the module ISR
group would show gains in reading motivation beyond those of the textbook ISR group and
control group, which they did, and motivation is a very powerful construct in learning.
While it was clear that the students in both ISR groups showed benefits in a variety of areas,
from reading comprehension to motivation, because this study was designed within the
context of applied research and design-based research, certain specifics cannot be extrapo-
lated from the results. Most notably, the findings indicate that 1-h of weekly ISR can provide
substantial benefits to students in terms of stimulating reading comprehension. However, we
cannot parse out the contribution that having students answer the reading comprehension
questions may have had on their gains. The reading comprehension questions served two
purposes: first, to provide an assessment component to ensure that all students followed
through with their reading, and second, to possibly stimulate metacognition and in turn
metacomprehension. It is unclear whether students would indeed have completed the read-
ings without the adjunct questions or if the questions contributed to the students’ gains beyond
what they would have experienced by simply reading for the hour. We do not know if the
adjunct questions are a necessary component to realize the gains seen here or if reading alone
can lead to similar results. The design of the study could not account for this possible variance.
An additional limitation may have been the novelty associated with using the computer
modules. Interest may have been stimulated simply because the modules were a new and
engaging reading format to the students. This is a potential confounding variable with any
new instructional technology. However, there is no reason to suspect that this novelty was
the cause for the differences that were found on the reading motivation scale. The AMRS
assesses global reading motivation, or how students feel about reading in general, and was
not specific to any particular text or reading format. When the post AMRS survey was
administered students were weeks removed from having last worked on the reading
modules and were asked about their feelings on reading as an activity, not on how well
they enjoyed reading in the course, so their responses should not be viewed as being
directly influenced by the novelty of the technology.
A further possible weakness was in controlling teacher effects. The study attempted to
do this by having each teacher teach multiple conditions. Ideally, each teacher would have
taught all three different conditions. However, this was not possible due to the practical
realities of scheduling within the school. Teacher effects should have been mitigated,
460 J. A. Cuevas et al.
though, because the ISR method was almost entirely student centered and the teachers did
not provide any direct instruction in reading comprehension. The teachers served as test
proctors rather than instructors, thereby minimizing teacher effects on the development
reading comprehension ability.
Also, it was regrettable that the sample size of the module ISR group was so small,
numbering only 24 students by the end of the semester. But because of the limited
availability of the school computer labs and other factors beyond the control of the
researchers, the final size of this group was less than optimal. While there is no indication
that the module ISR group would have outperformed the textbook ISR group academically
on global measures with a greater sample size, it is likely that the differences between the
module ISR group and the control group would have been more pronounced. It would be
worthwhile to replicate the process in an environment where there is not such a high
premium on the access to instructional technology.
Finally, the promise offered by the findings here is tempered somewhat by the reality
that access to technology is still very limited in many public schools. Computer access at
the school where this study was completed was constrained because a total of approxi-
mately 110 computers were available to the general population of 2,200 students. Simply
put, in order for this method to have potential to help students develop their reading skills,
the students must have computers to work on. But as more schools offer laptops, Ipads, and
add greater numbers of computers, instructional technology like the modules tested here
will have increased potential to impact students’ learning.
Future research and implications
While the racial background of the students was not a main focus of the study, it is worth
noting that the students in the sample were predominantly African American. Due to this
dynamic, this study provides evidence that the ISR method paired with the computer
reading modules can be successful in promoting literacy skills in a minority population
from a predominantly working class socioeconomic background. It is likely that the suc-
cess shown by the students in this study could be replicated by Anglo, Asian, and Hispanic
students if they were to be provided with an identical intervention. However, if students
already have high levels in reading comprehension and are accustomed to doing extensive
reading at home, as may be the case for students from more affluent backgrounds, in-class
ISR time would likely have a less pronounced effect. Hence, it would be beneficial to test
the method in other socioeconomic environments.
The findings in this study do tell us that students who read from the computer modules
improved their reading comprehension significantly more than those from the control group.
Moreover, those students from the module group showed a distinct increase in reading
motivation above both the control group and the textbook group, and motivation is a powerful
dynamic in academic achievement. The module intervention may be considered a success for
this reason alone. However, future research could test more powerful or more elaborate
technological packages that may produce additional benefits in academic achievement that go
beyond those of traditional ISR while maintaining the motivational benefits of the package
tested here. Also of interest is whether the benefits in learning that the module ISR group
experienced on individual assignments would generalize to more extensive global
improvements in reading given more time or more interventions, particularly considering that
the module ISR group took part in only nine computer-based interventions.
Public education in the U.S. is in dire need of research based methods that can address
issues of literacy and reading comprehension in adolescents and young adults in secondary
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 461
schools. Students’ reading skills affect their ability to learn across all content areas and
influence their success in post-secondary environments such as college and the workplace.
Therefore, reading ability can have a tremendous impact on students’ chances for success
at life in general. Too often students leave high school with inadequate reading levels, and
by extension limit their potential to thrive in society. It is clear that students must read
more challenging material on a more regular basis in order to stimulate the cognitive
processes that will allow their reading skills to flourish. The results of this study provide
much needed evidence for one way to stimulate growth in reading for high school students.
The findings suggest that technological reading packages such as these can not only
produce gains in global reading comprehension, but can also stimulate learning for specific
material, as well as create situational interest which in turn can translate into a more
generalized, global, long-term increase in reading motivation. Instructional technology of
this sort has the potential to be incorporated into a broad range of classrooms and benefit a
large number of students, providing a powerful learning experience for modern students.
Appendix 1
Table 9 Reading passages
Passage Author Word
grade level
Narrative of the Captivity Mary Rowlandson 3,128 8.4
The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano** Olaudah Equiano 4,801 9.3
The Declaration of Independence** Thomas Jefferson 1,704 12.0
The Devil & Tom Walker Washington Irving 4,744 8.1
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment** Nathaniel Hawthorne 3,686 9.4
excerpts from Nature & Self-Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson 1,618 8.1
Resistance to Civil Government and other
Henry David Thoreau,
Gandhi, Martin Luther
King Jr.
3,948 9.0
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass** Frederick Douglass 2,440 6.1
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge** Ambrose Bierce 3,726 7.5
The Lowest Animal** Mark Twain 2,070 7.8
To Build a Fire Jack London 7,096 6.7
A Rose for Emily** William Faulkner 3,702 7.7
The Jilting of Granny Weatherall** Katherine Anne Porter 3,894 5.3
Everyday Use** Alice Walker 3,588 4.7
Total mean word count =3,582
Total mean reading level =7.86
Module mean word count =3,356
Module mean reading level =7.9
** Denotes the passages that were converted to computer modules
462 J. A. Cuevas et al.
Appendix 2
Text-Specific Reading Assessment
Reading Posttest: A Rose for Emily Name:
1) The narrator says women attended Miss Emily Grierson’s funeral because
A) they wanted to gossip about her.
B) they were curious to see the inside of her house.
C) they felt they needed to show respect for her.
D) they would appear important since her family was very wealthy.
2) Years before Miss Emily died some men from the government had gone to see her
about something. What did they go to speak to her about?
A) The mayor, Colonel Sartoris, wanted to see her right away.
B) They wanted to give her father an award for his accomplishments.
C) She had not been paying her taxes.
D) She had burned down a barn.
3) What was her reaction to these men and what was her justification for this reaction?
A) She said she didn’t owe anything and they should go ask the mayor.
B) She told them her father had been dead for years so it wasn’t possible.
C) She was innocent of the crime, and the mayor would prove her right.
D) She refused to leave the house but the mayor could come to her.
4) Miss Emily acted as though she were
A) afraid of offending others.
B) not entitled to special favors.
C) not required to obey laws.
D) going to discover who the real criminal was.
5) What was the problem with the men going to see Colonel Sartoris to verify her claims?
A) He knew she was really guilty.
B) He knew where her father was hiding.
C) They thought he would refuse to come to her house.
D) He had been dead for 10 years.
6) What had happened in Emily’s life around the time there was a strange smell coming
from her house?
A) She became very wealthy when she inherited money from an aunt.
B) Her father had died and her boyfriend had disappeared.
C) She was married to the sheriff who ended up killing her father.
D) A sewer line burst underneath her house.
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 463
7) How did the town take care of the awful smell?
A) They fixed the sewer line as quickly as possible.
B) Men burned her house down and she moved to the country.
C) They didn’t do anything about it and just left it alone.
D) Men snuck into her yard at night and sprinkled lime around her house.
8) How had Emily reacted after her father’s death?
A) She ran through the streets of town crying and moaning.
B) She acted like nothing had happened and denied he was dead for 3 days
C) She was happy that he was gone and would finally get all his money.
D) She immediately arranged a funeral and invited everyone in town.
9) What was the name of the man everyone thought Emily began seeing after her father’s
A) Homer Baron
B) Monte Grierson
C) William Faulkner
D) Peyton Farquar
10) The man Emily was rumored to be seeing was a
A) Yankee.
B) cousin.
C) politician.
D) criminal.
11) Who came to visit Miss Emily during the time she was rumored to be seeing a
A) the townspeople.
B) the narrator.
C) her cousins.
D) her old friends.
12) What did Miss Emily buy from the jeweler?
A) a wedding ring.
B) a silver engraved man’s toilet set.
C) a gilded mirror.
D) a locket.
13) What did Emily buy from the druggist?
A) detergent
B) rat traps
C) arsenic
D) mor
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Joshua A. Cuevas Ph.D., is an educational psychologist and assistant professor of education at North
Georgia College and State University. He has taught in public school and has worked in literacy assessment
at both the state and national levels.
Roxanne L. Russell earned her Ph.D. in instructional technology from Georgia State University and has
served as a professor at various state institutions. She currently develops instructional technology for
educational programs through Georgia State University and works as a professor for the University of
Miles A. Irving Ph.D., is an associate professor of educational psychology at Georgia State University. His
areas of expertise are motivation, academic achievement, and culturally relevant pedagogy.
An examination of the effect of customized reading modules 467
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... In middle school, the magnitude of effect sizes slightly increased compared to elementary school although not consistently. In high school, the effects showed a picture of substantial increase, with the majority of effects on reading achievement outcomes falling within the moderate range (Cuevas et al., 2012;Cuevas et al., 2014). Figure 2 shows a forest plot depicting the direction and magnitude of effect sizes aggregated by grade, with the majority of confidence intervals of individual effect sizes in elementary school crossing the vertical line of no effect, and, as such, indicating non-significant effects. ...
... In two studies, students made no significant gains on comprehension, even though the overall time spent on independent reading was substantial (e.g., over 3 summers; Allington et al., 2010). There was one study, however, that did report significant moderate effect sizes on a standardized reading comprehension test (Cuevas et al., 2012). Cuevas et al.'s (2012) findings indicated that 1 hour of weekly sustained silent reading in high school provided substantial benefits in terms of stimulating reading comprehension. ...
... week. Three studies implemented interventions over 18-to 24-week periods (4.5 -6 months), with approximately one session per week (Cuevas et al., 2012;Cuevas et al., 2014). Three studies reported interventions which lasted from 32 weeks (8 months) up to 156 weeks (3 years), again with no reported information on the intensity of sessions. ...
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Encouraging children to read extensively has been a widely recommended approach to developing reading. The National Reading Panel (NRP, 2000) published a review study reporting inconclusive findings regarding the benefits of such an approach. In this systematic narrative synthesis review, we provided an update and an extension of the NRP’s review. We examined the effects of silent independent reading practices on reading outcomes for students in Grades K through 12, reviewing experimental and quasi-experimental studies between 2000 and 2020. We also incorporated a quality evaluation of primary studies. A systematic search of peer-reviewed articles was conducted, using identical procedures as in the NRP review. Our results from 14 primary studies comprising 5,522 participants in the treatment group and 4,966 in the control group alluded to no meaningful beneficial effects of independent reading on reading outcomes. However, due to a lack of primary studies adhering to the highest quality standards and implementation, it is impossible to determine whether such a result is universal or whether there might be conditions under which independent reading could be effective.
... Blended learning succeeds in this because teachers can still use traditional methods of face-to-face instruction while using technology to supplement (Rafool et al., 2012). Researchers have been exploring ways that teachers may implement such technological tools (Cuevas et al., 2012;Russell & Cuevas, 2014) as well as the effects they may have on student learning and disposition (Doster & Cuevas, 2021;Hannel & Cuevas, 2018;Miller & Cuevas, 2017;Moore & Cuevas, 2021). ...
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As society becomes more technologically advanced, digital instructional strategies continue to emerge. Students are becoming more involved with technology, and schools must supply students with more tools to succeed in an increasingly technology-based world. This study examined the impact of technology-based strategies in a high school social studies classroom. It focused on blended learning pedagogy in addition to the flexibility of digital strategies and their impact on student achievement and perceptions. The sample comprised 88 students from three 9th grade geography courses. No differences in achievement were found, and there was no correlation between time spent on the digital modules and student learning. However, students reported positive perceptions regarding blended learning, including high confidence in their ability to access information and confidence in interactions regarding collaborations with peers and the teacher. They also most often believed that they were learning more in the blended learning environment and reported high enjoyment.
... Many recent studies have explored interventions designed to enhance learning for elementary and middle grades students across a variety of content areas (Baker & Cuevas, 2018;Dalton & Cuevas, 2019;Doster & Cuevas, 2021;Hannel & Cuevas, 2018;Jennings & Cuevas, 2021;Liming & Cuevas, 2017;Sides & Cuevas, 2020). There are also many researchers who have sought to improve reading outcomes for K-12 students (Cuevas, et al., 2014, Cuevas, et al. 2012, with some focusing specifically on reading development for elementary-level students (Tankersley & Cuevas, 2019;Zavala & Cuevas, 2019). Still other studies have concentrated on bridging the learning gap for young students with special needs (Hendy & Cuevas, 2020;Hughes & Cuevas, 2020;Pounds & Cuevas;. ...
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Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is a mathematics instructional strategy that focuses on students using problem-solving strategies to construct their own understanding. Little research has been conducted to help determine what CGI could look like in other subject areas. The purpose of this study was to investigate ways to apply CGI to a phonics lesson and determine if cognitively guided phonetic instruction could have a positive impact on the achievement and self-efficacy of tier two and three special education students. A pre and post assessment and survey were administered and compared student achievement and self-efficacy. The study concluded that cognitively guided phonetic instruction allowed students in these tiers to achieve similar growth in their phonetic abilities and self-efficacy when compared to their higher achieving gifted and on-level peers.
... The researchers focus on practices that increase students' motivation and indirectly increase their level of reading comprehension. Therefore, they examine the ways of increasing students motivation by simulating task (Guthrie, Wigfield, Humenick, Perencevich, Taboada, & Barbosa, 2006), text books (Forsten, Grant, & Hollas, 2003), reading modules (Cuevas, Russell, & Irving, 2012). All the above studies show that as the students' motivation increase (by any implementation), their reading comprehension level increases too. ...
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The purpose of this study is to construct a model that tests the mediating effects of test anxiety and cooperation on the relation between motivation and reading comprehension. The study was carried out within the framework of predictive correlational design. The sample consisting of 1562 students was randomly selected from Turkey sample of the PISA 2015. Structural equation modeling was performed to test the hypothesis about direct and indirect relations between the defined variables. The results showed that test anxiety and cooperation had a partial mediating effect on the relation between motivation and reading comprehension. When the direct relations examined, it was found out that there is a positive and significant relation between motivation and reading comprehension. On the other hand, there is a positive and significant relation between the students' tendency to cooperation and reading comprehension while the relation between test anxiety and reading comprehension is significant and negative.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many districts sought digital learning solutions to recover from learning loss, improve equity, and prepare for future interruptions. With this paper, we aim to provide information to policymakers and legislators regarding the value of resources needed to successfully implement comprehensive digital learning programing. We focus on the policies and resource allocation decisions made in North Carolina, one of the first states to launch a statewide digital learning initiative. First, we demonstrate the effects of state policy on school practices, then we turn the focus of the paper to how districts and schools allocated resources to implement digital learning. We apply the ingredients method to examine the costs of digital learning during the 2018–2019 school year. We close with recommendations for future policy and resource allocation.
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Instructional time spent on elementary social studies is often marginalized due to the emphasis placed on other content areas. Therefore, social studies teachers must employ meaningful instructional strategies that will engage students while promoting content acquisition. This quasi-experimental study responds to this challenge by guiding a sample of 44 fifth grade students to use the historical thinking skills of sourcing, contextualizing, and corroborating that encourage engagement with a variety of primary sources through the lens of Jerome Bruner's learning theories. The control group used traditional instructional methods including close-note taking, vocabulary review, and independent reading from social studies texts. Both the control and treatment groups were assessed prior to and after the study on content knowledge, attitude toward social studies, and critical thinking skills using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test. Students in the treatment group showed significant differences in their content knowledge over the control group.
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Many students have low reading motivation. Based on (reading) motivation theories, several mechanisms are distinguished that can foster reading motivation. Our goal in this meta-analysis was to examine the effects of theory-driven reading motivation interventions in school on students’ reading motivation and reading comprehension as well as to test which mechanisms are particularly effective in fostering motivation and comprehension. We conducted a literature search in ten online databases and identified 39 relevant effect studies. Positive effects on affirming motivations (d = 0.38), extrinsic motivations (d = 0.42), combined motivations (d = 0.17), and reading comprehension (d = 0.27) were found. The effect on undermining motivations (d = -0.01) was not significant. In particular, interventions that aimed to trigger interest had positive effects on affirming motivations and reading comprehension. Further, effects on affirming motivations were larger if the total duration of the intervention was longer and if the share of boys in the sample was higher. Interventions delivered by researchers had larger effects on reading comprehension than interventions delivered by teachers. Finally, effects on reading comprehension were larger for primary schoolers than for secondary schoolers and larger for typical readers than for struggling readers. Implications for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers are discussed.
The purpose of this study was to complete a systematic review of the adolescent comprehension intervention research published between 2000 and 2020 to examine the presence of instructional practices to promote student engagement. Ninety-five studies were coded and indicated that 93% of the studies included at least one instructional practice and only 15% of studies actually measured engagement. Few studies (6%) examined the relationship between engagement and outcomes; studies that incorporated instructional practices to promote engagement demonstrated a statistically significant relation to engagement. Although student engagement is accepted as important in reading, it is rarely assessed within intervention efforts.
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One of the problems of students’ transition from secondary education to higher education, is the weakness of English language skills along with the shortage of incentive to improve their learning. The purpose of this study was to re-explore the motivation to English learning in undergraduate students and the factors affecting it from the viewpoint of English language instructors in universities. This research was conducted using qualitative approach and Grounded Theory strategy. The population of study included all the English language instructors in the public universities of Sanandaj. And 14 individuals were selected purposefully using theoretical sampling, and theoretical saturation of data was the end of sampling basis. The instrument used was the semi-structured qualitative interview. The process of coding and modeling of qualitative data, has been done through qualitative data analysis software (MAXQDA 11). Reflexivity strategy was used to determine the validity of the process of coding and interpreting qualitative data. According to the findings, pedagogical themes; structural themes and motivational themes are described by explaining "Motivation-based Education" model as a focal theme, along with the causal conditions (with concepts of active teaching methods, teaching-learning process, and Appropriateness of content), the interventionist conditions (with concepts of cultural features, and educational challenges) and the contextual conditions (with concepts of emotional attitudes, and perception components). The strategies include strengthening pedagogical themes and modifying structural themes, and the outcomes include improvement of the motivational themes in learning English language.
The chapter presents a review of the literature on Native American education and the use of culturally responsive instruction to guide the implementation of a computer-based reading program to increase engagement and reading levels for Native American secondary students for a quantitative single-case study on the effects of using Achieve3000 while using a culturally responsive model for selecting reading samples. Study findings noted though student reading levels increased and reading engagement improved in some key areas, no significant difference was found between groups. The implications of these findings are that use of a culturally responsive pedagogy to select self-relevant materials for a computer-based reading program may help Native American students to increase their reading levels and reading engagement scores, but not at a significant rate. Future research should consider whether these pedagogies and other strategies may improve Native American reading literacy.
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Metacognitive monitoring affects regulation of study, and this affects overall learning. The authors created differences in monitoring accuracy by instructing participants to generate a list of 5 keywords that captured the essence of each text. Accuracy was greater for a group that wrote keywords after a delay (delayed-keyword group) than for a group that wrote keywords immediately after reading (immediate-keyword group) and a group that did not write keywords (no-keyword group). The superior monitoring accuracy produced more effective regulation of study. Differences in monitoring accuracy and regulation of study, in turn, produced greater overall test performance (reading comprehension) for the delayed-keyword group versus the other groups. The results are framed in the context of a discrepancy-reduction model of self-regulated study. Many models of self-regulated learning can be classified as discrepancy-reduction models (e.
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One theoretical approach for increasing intrinsic motivation for reading consists of teachers using situational interest to encourage the development of long-term individual interest in reading. The authors investigated that possibility by using stimulating tasks, such as hands-on science observations and experiments, to increase situational interest. Concurrently, the authors provided books on the topics of the stimulating tasks and teacher guidance for reading to satisfy curiosities aroused from the tasks. Students with a high number of stimulating tasks increased their reading comprehension after controlling for initial comprehension more than did students in comparable intervention classrooms with fewer stimulating tasks. Students' motivation predicted their level of reading comprehension after controlling for initial comprehension. The number of stimulating tasks did not increase reading comprehension on a standardized test when motivation was controlled, suggesting that motivation mediated the effect of stimulating tasks on reading comprehension. Apparently, stimulating tasks in reading increased situational interest, which increased longer term intrinsic motivation and reading comprehension.
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Many teachers and administrators are caught between opposing forces in education. Often, they're forced into compliance with scientifically based reading research (SBRR) requiring methods and materials that run counter to their own beliefs. Or, teachers are forced to eliminate reading methods that their own experience has shown to be effective. This is particularly true in the case of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). There is considerable confusion and division in the profession surrounding federal research and what that research has determined about the role independent reading should play in classrooms. This article will help teachers resolve that tension by clarifying the federal research findings, separating data from opinion, and offering variations on “pure” SSR so teachers can develop their teaching practices using sound research and their own professional autonomy. When the research facts are unraveled from misinterpretations and opinion, we find that SSR is not only intuitively appealing but also is supported by research.
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This article reports on a retooled Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) block in an intermediate classroom designed to meet the needs of all students. The authors discuss the benefits and obstacles to SSR and include the framework and classroom management tips that aided their successful implementation of an independent reading block.Students engaged in a structured format called R5 (read, relax, reflect, respond, and rap), which resulted in significant gains on informal and formal assessments of wide reading, metacognitive awareness, and comprehension. Furthermore, to motivate and engage readers, the authors suggest that teachersConsistently monitor and guide the reading habits of their studentsBuild in opportunities for sharing ideas and discussions about textPromote the application of metacognitive strategies in the context of readingA review of the research on independent reading and SSR, classroom observations, and assessment findings are provided to illustrate the power of this thoughtful literacy block.
Three experiments were conducted to determine how the careful reading of advance organizers affected the answers that students constructed for study questions. In the first experiment, those middle-school students who read and paraphrased an advance organizer prior to study correctly answered significantly more lower order study questions than did students not encountering the organizer. In Experiments 2 and 3, middle-school and college students, respectively, were used. In both experiments, students who read and paraphrased the advance organizer constructed significantly better answers for higher order study questions than did those students who had no access to the organizers.