Campus News

Psychologist will use grant to explore reading instruction

Many elementary schools today use repeated readings to increase the reading fluency of students, but a UGA educational psychologist wants to find out if using a wider reading approach might increase fluency while also providing greater vocabulary and content.

Scott Ardoin, an associate professor in the College of Education’s department of educational psychology and instructional technology, has received a $1.5 million federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences through UGA’s Institute for Behavioral Research to do a four-year study of the two instructional methods-repeated readings and guided wide ­readings. IES is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Extensive evidence shows the repeated readings method increases the oral reading rates of elementary students. As a result, schools are increasingly using repeated readings to increase students’ reading fluency. However, the research has not adequately examined the underlying factors that contribute to increased reading fluency across materials, and whether these factors might be similarly changed through guided wide readings, Ardoin said. The guided wide readings method is the reading of materials only once as opposed to multiple times.

The UGA study will explore how these two instructional conditions affect students’ reading fluency (rate and accuracy), variety of vocabulary and content, underlying reading behaviors, and comprehension and expression. It will evaluate procedures frequently used to improve the reading rate, accuracy and expression of normal achieving as well as students struggling in the area of reading. Effects will be explored through the use of eye-tracking methodology.

“This research will help us determine not only what reading interventions might be best for a student based upon his/her existing reading skills, but will provide valuable information for the development of reading curriculums that will better promote the learning of new vocabulary and comprehension skills,” said Ardoin.

The researchers will work in a local school district with teachers and second graders whose reading is not yet fluent. In Phase I, 150 students will be randomly assigned to one of three 10-week instructional conditions (repeated readings, guided wide readings and business as usual).

In Phase II, the researchers will explore whether altering procedures designed to promote reading fluency will help to further enhance changes in underlying behavior observed during Phase I that might otherwise be inhibited by current fluency based instructional practices.