Lee Kern, professor of special education and director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice at the College of Education, who provided support for the project, will be Morin’s primary mentor on the grant. The award amount is $700,000. The Center for Promoting Research to Practice also sponsored Lindström’s grant, and Kern serves as her designated onsite mentor.
"IES Early Career Research Awards are very competitive grants and demonstrate not only the promising research potential of these two pre-tenure faculty members, but also their innovative approach to developing interventions that will improve the lives of children with disabilities and the teachers who support them,” Kern said. “I am certain these two exciting projects, and the work that follows, will have a significant impact on our field.”
Because Lindström’s and Morin’s are early career grants, funding will also go toward their development as scholars through workshops and formal mentorship from established researchers in the special education field.
Interventions for reading skills
Van Norman’s project, funded with a $1,689,125 award, will take place in 12 to 14 elementary schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. The research team, including Lehigh through the Center for Promoting Research to Practice, and collaborators from University of Wisconsin-Madison and ServeMinnesota, will work with about 600 students in second and third grade who are receiving Tier 2 reading fluency interventions provided by the Minnesota Reading Corps. Tier 2 intervention is generally for students whose literacy needs are not being met through Tier 1 or core (regular classroom) instruction alone.
The research team will collect diagnostic information, both before and after the intervention, regarding participants' component reading skills (such as comprehension and word reading fluency) that promote text reading fluency. They will also observe participants' academic engagement during Tier 1 literacy instruction – instruction generally at the “whole class” corresponding grade level – and collect data regarding the time allotted to different reading skills. In addition, they will continue to collect academic skill data after the interventions end to assess maintenance of effects.
“The purpose of our project is to identify factors that predict whether students that show improvement from reading interventions will maintain those gains after the interventions end,” Van Norman said. The Lehigh team will be primarily responsible for analyzing data collected as part of the study and training tutors who will deliver the interventions.
Little attention has been paid to students’ maintenance of reading intervention effects generally, particularly for students who are initially successful but later identified as needing additional support, the researchers wrote in their project summary. If facilitators of intervention maintenance are identified, educators could better align the intervention to the critical component reading skills that predict students' post-intervention maintenance or ensure the environment is structured to provide sufficient opportunities to practice text reading during Tier 1 instruction, they said.
The results will provide needed information regarding the relationship between students' pre-intervention skills, their engagement during Tier 1 instruction, and their text reading fluency growth during and after a Tier 2 reading fluency intervention.
“As a group we've been exploring how we can improve the long-term effects of reading interventions,” Van Norman said. “This project will help us zero in on what things matter most when identifying which interventions we should deliver to students.”
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is an independent, non-partisan federal program whose mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers and the public. Its National Center for Special Education Research supports a comprehensive program of education research designed to expand knowledge and understanding of infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and those at risk for disabilities. The National Center for Education Research supports research that addresses pressing education needs, from early childhood to adult education.