Key Takeaway: Currently, there are many sound, evidence-based reading comprehension interventions. However, not all students will demonstrate an adequate response to these interventions. Therefore, as special educators, we need to be aware of how and why students respond to reading comprehension interventions and how attention affects reading comprehension. —Michael Ho
In their study, Amanda Martinez-Lincoln, Marcia A. Barnes, and Nathan H. Clemens (2021) used moderation analysis to investigate for whom and under what conditions reading comprehension interventions are most effective. The authors investigated the following research question: Do language status and pre-intervention levels of anxiety, mind-wandering, and mindset influence the effects of a computer-delivered or teacher-delivered inferential reading comprehension intervention in struggling middle school readers?
The study aimed to:
1) Determine whether students’ mind-wandering, anxiety, and language status were associated with a differential response to an inferential reading comprehension intervention among struggling middle school readers
2) Examine whether these effects varied across instructional delivery systems: teacher-led instruction, computer-led instruction, and a control group (program based on what struggling middle school readers typically receive)
Here are the major takeaways from the article:
- Inference-making, the ability to infer information that is not explicitly stated in the text, is a vital component to reading comprehension. Difficulties in making inferences to connect parts of the text1 and to associate texts with background knowledge2 have been linked to poor reading comprehension.
- Attention is a core component of engagement and is crucial to academic achievement, including reading comprehension. Martinez-Lincoln et al. (2021) refer to the 2016 study of Rabiner et al.3 and emphasize that “poor attention can negatively influence students’ long-term academic outcomes in reading and math and can increase risk for not graduating from high school.”
- The purpose of this study was to test the effects of three factors of attention—Mind-Wandering, Anxiety, and Mindset—across three instructional delivery systems in reading: Teacher-led Instruction, Computer-led Instruction, and a Control Group.
- In the study, 67 students in Grade 6 to 8 from three middle schools in the southwest USA were included. A stratified randomized procedure was implemented and students were assigned to one of the three groups: Teacher-led Instruction, Computer-led Instruction, and a Control Group.
- Measures in reading assessment included Test of Word Reading Efficiency 2nd ed., Sight Word Efficiency, Connect-IT Inferential Reading Comprehension Assessment, Bridging Inference Task, and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test 3rd ed., Reading Comprehension. Measures in attention included Mind-Wandering Questionnaire, Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children 2nd Edition, and Mindset Survey.
- Among students with similar high levels of mind-wandering, students in the computer-delivered intervention were able to make better inferences on the Bridge-IT Near task, a part of the Bridging Inference Task. Mind-wandering did not have an effect in the teacher-led intervention; this may be due to verbal praise and encouragement reducing the influence of mind-wandering in this group.
- Compared to similarly anxious peers in the control group, Martinez-Lincoln et al., (2021) found that “students in the computer-led intervention performed better on a comprehension test that required them to make several different types of inferences.” It is important to note that higher levels of anxiety were positively correlated with higher levels of reported mind-wandering.
- The effects of mindset on inferential reading comprehension intervention were found to be similar. This could be due to the small sample size or to the general mindset measures not being as sensitive as reading-specific mindset measures.
- Martinez-Lincoln et al. (2021) found that English Learners (ELs) “scored lower overall than non-ELs on all reading measures.” ELs scored higher in the control group compared to ELs in the computer-led instruction. More notably, in the teacher-led instruction, the ELs’ performance did not significantly differ from those of non-ELs. This may be due to more in-depth feedback and additional examples provided in the teacher-led instruction.
- This study had some limitations, such that the sample size was relatively small and that it was not realistic to include and control all of the factors that may influence students’ responses to reading instruction. In addition, participants read and answered the student engagement questionnaires silently. Although an interventionist was present, it is possible that a student may have misread or misunderstood the statements in the questionnaire. Finally, not all students were receiving reading instruction in the control group.
- The inclusion of student characteristics and instructional elements, such as group size and delivery by a computer or a teacher, in future research may be essential for developing effective reading comprehension instruction for struggling middle school readers, especially those who are ELs, have high levels of mind-wandering, or have high levels of anxiety.
Martinez-Lincoln, A., Barnes, M.A. & Clemens, N.H. Correction to: Differential Effectiveness of an Inferential Reading Comprehension Intervention for Struggling Middle School Readers in Relation to Mind-wandering, Anxiety, Mindset, and English Learner Status. Ann. of Dyslexia 71, 346 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-021-00215-3
Summary by: Michael Ho—Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.
- Cain, K., & Oakhill, J. V. (1999). Inference making ability and its relation to comprehension failure in young children. Reading and Writing, 11, 489–503. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008084120205.
- Cain, K., Oakhill, J. V., Barnes, M. A., & Bryant, P. E. (2001). Comprehension skill, inference-making ability, and their relation to knowledge. Memory & Cognition, 29, 850–859. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196414.
- Rabiner, D. L., Godwin, J., & Dodge, K. A. (2016). Predicting academic achievement and attainment: the contribution of early academic skills, attention difficulties, and social competence. School Psychology Review, 45, 250–267. https://doi.org/10.17105/SPR45-2.250-267.
Key Takeaway: Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) have completed a systematic review of literature to identify a number of key personal and external factors that help students with disabilities be successful at university:
- Personal factors include “self-advocacy, self-awareness, self-determination, self-esteem and executive functioning”
- External factors include “family, disability offices, staff and faculty members, and peers”
Identifying these internal and external factors can help universities ensure that they have the necessary resources in place to support students with disabilities. Additionally, knowing these factors can help students with disabilities make informed decisions as to their choice of university. —Matt Barker
Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) from the Universidad De Sevilla identify that there is a move from focusing on facilitating access to education to focusing on improving the quality of learning, and that this shift requires “education systems to guarantee equitable access and permanence, resources, and teaching and learning processes for all.” Although there is improving access to higher education (HE), this has also resulted in challenges with increasing access for non-traditional students.1,2 The result is that university dropout rates are higher among students with disabilities than among other students and that “the former face multiple barriers to staying and successfully completing their studies.”3,4
Kutcher and Tuckwillet (2019)5 identify the following internal factors for academic success: “setting clear objectives, being proactive, knowing how to make decisions and not give up in the face of difficulties, using strategies that can help with the disability itself and believing in one’s abilities.” Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) further cite Gow, Mostert, and Dreyer (2020)6 and Milsom and Sackett (2018),7 who identify “self-determination, self-advocacy, self-awareness, self-discipline, self-esteem and executive functions” as common traits among students with disabilities who are able to successfully finish their studies. Russak and Hellwing (2019)8 in their study added that graduates saw their disability as part of their self-image, one that enabled them to learn about their strengths and weaknesses.
Additionally, external factors are those that have a source of support external to the individual. Gow, Monster, and Dreyer’s (2020)6 study recognises that support from family and friends is critical. Cotán et al. (2021)9 identify staff and faculty who have provided “support, understanding and compassion” have helped the students be successful. Orr and Goodman (2010)10 recognise that peers help the students set goals and can support access to academic resources. Kutcher and Tuckwillet (2019)5 also identify that “high expectations, accessible campuses, appropriate accommodations and administrative support” are all factors that support academic success for students with disabilities.
The authors identify six personal factors and traits of students with disabilities who are demonstrating success at university:
- Executive functioning
The authors also identify five external factors influencing the academic success of students with disabilities:
- Family support (“moral, financial and social”)
- The university
- The impact of disability support services
- The effectiveness of academic support staff and faculty
Identifying these internal and external factors can help universities ensure that they have the necessary resources in place to support students with disabilities. Additionally, understanding these factors can help students with disabilities make informed decisions as to their choice of university. As the authors note, “when people have a range of personal skills and institutions provide the necessary opportunities, it is possible for students with disabilities to remain and succeed academically.”
Furthermore, the authors note that academic success is dependent “on factors related to the personal, contextual and external environments.” The students in the studies who persisted in their goals saw themselves as having a sense of “freedom and independence.” Disability was regarded as an opportunity to overcome challenges and develop resilience, with the goal of gaining work post graduation.
Given the six personal factors and traits of students with disabilities who are demonstrating success at university, Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) note the importance of preparing the students in these competences before they attend university, as well as whilst they are at university, since “such competences are essential to access and have educational, social and working success.” Additionally, the authors stress that both disciplinary and personal competences need to be developed, possibly through “active and student centred-teaching methodologies, such as cooperative learning, projects and case studies.”
In terms of university based support, the authors explain that “coaching, tutoring, accommodations and disability services . . . improve the quality of education and enhance the psychosocial well-being of students.” Additionally, it is noted that the application of Universal Design for Learning to offer multiple means of expression, representation and involvement should also be explored as a means to enhance inclusion practices.11 It is thus important for faculty to have training in inclusive practices.
Moriña, A., & Biagiotti, G. (2021). Academic success factors in university students with disabilities: a systematic review. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1-18.
Summary by: Matt Barker—Matt loves how the MARIO Framework empowers learners to make meaningful choices to drive their personalized learning journeys.
- Carballo, R., B. Morgado, and M. D. Cortés-Vega. 2021. “Transforming Faculty Conceptions of Disability and Inclusive Education through a Training Programme.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 25 (7): 843–859 doi:10.1080/13603116.2019.1579874.
- Fernández-Gámez, M. A., P. Guzmán-Sánchez, J. Molina-Gómez, and P. Mercade-Mele. 2020. “Innovative Interventions and Provisions of Accommodations to Students with Disabilities.” European Journal of Special Needs Education 1–10. doi:10.1080/08856257.2020.1792715.
- Bell, S., C. Devecchi, C. M. Guckin, and M. Shevlin. 2017. “Making the Transition to Post-secondary Education: Opportunities and Challenges Experienced by Students with ASD in the Republic of Ireland.” European Journal of Special Needs Education 32 (1): 54–70. doi:10.1080/08856257.2016.1254972.
- Munir, N. 2021. “Factors Influencing Enrolments and Study Completion of Persons with Physical Impairments in Universities.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 1–16. doi:10.1080/13603116.2021.1879959.
- Kutcher, E. L., and E. D. Tuckwillet. 2019. “Persistence in Higher Education for Students with Disabilities: A Mixed Systematic Review.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 12 (2): 136–155. doi:10.1037/dhe0000088.
- Gow, M. A., Y. Mostert, and L. Dreyer. 2020. “The Promise of Equal Education Not Kept: Specific Learning Disabilities – The Invisible Disability.” African Journal of Disability 9 a647. doi:10.4102/ajod.v9i0.647.
- Milsom, A., and C. Sackett. 2018. “Experiences of Students with Disabilities Transitioning from 2-year to 4-year Institutions.” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 42 (1): 20–31.doi:10.1080/10668926.2016.1251352.
- Russak, S., and A. D. Hellwing. 2019. “University Graduates with Learning Disabilities Define Success and the Factors that Promote It.” International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 66 (4): 409–423. doi:10.1080/1034912X.2019.1585524.
- Cotán, A., A. Aguirre, B. Morgado, and N. Melero. 2021. “Methodological Strategies of Faculty Members: Moving toward Inclusive Pedagogy in Higher Education.” Sustainability 13 (6): 3031. doi:10.3390/su13063031.
- Orr, A. C., and N. Goodman. 2010. “People like Me Don’t Go to College: The Legacy of a Learning Disability.” Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research 4 (4): 213–225. https://eric.ed.gov/? id=EJ902542 .
- Fleming, A. R., W. Coduti, and J. T. Herbert. 2018. “Development of a First Year Success Seminar for College Students with Disabilities.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 31 (4): 309–320. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1214190 .
Key Takeaway: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) focuses on improving the learners’ interaction with others and self-management of their emotions. These SEL skills sometimes have to be explicitly taught with added practice to help students form successful relationships with peers, teachers, family and the community. —Shekufeh Monadjem
Summary: A recent article published in the journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities by Spilt, Bosmans, and Verscheueren from University of Leuven, Belgium, examined the role of special education teachers and studied whether conducting emotion dialogues with students diagnosed with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances could promote self-understanding and emotional regulation.
It is often a challenging task to teach children with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances, as unexpected triggers can cause intense emotions in these children that can manifest as temper tantrums and oppositional or aggressive behaviour. “Children with emotional and behavior disturbances often struggle to explain their own emotions and may fail to oversee the consequences of their behaviors.”
Research shows that these children are also at risk of forming poor relationships with their teachers. Teachers and caregivers can play a corrective role in the socioemotional development of these children by providing a secure and supportive environment at school that will benefit the socioemotional development of these children.
This study examined the effect of high-quality conversations referred to as “emotion dialogues” between teachers and students with a mean age of 8.3 who had been diagnosed with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances. “Emotion dialogues sensitize children for internal emotional states (e.g.“What did I feel? How did it feel?”), raise awareness of causes (e.g., “What made me feel so angry?”) and consequences (e.g., “Because of my anger I did things that are not acceptable”), and help children explore appropriate expressions of emotions or strategies to relieve stress (e.g., “What will help me calm down instead of going mad?”).”
“For a healthy socioemotional development, it is critical that children can construct meaning of emotional experiences to increase their understanding of their own inner worlds. One way to promote such understanding is by engaging children in conversations about emotional experiences,” Spilt et al. quotes Fivush et al. (1) This is done through dialogue about past emotional events, where teachers use appropriate vocabulary to label emotions, “explain causes and consequences of emotions, and teach children how to express emotions in an appropriate manner by teaching and modelling adequate coping strategies and expressions,” Spilt et al. quotes Denham et al. (2)
The study found that positive changes in students’ behaviours were seen in the following ways: Adequate task completion, decreased negativity and hostility, accepting Teacher Guidance, and more positive resolution to negative situations. These outcomes are achieved through co-regulation, which is defined as “a warm, responsive relationship in which a caregiver positively structures the environment and provides support, coaching, and modeling for self-regulation skills.”
Finally, Spilt, Bosmans, and Verscheueren conclude by stating that “by engaging children in emotion dialogues, teachers become co-regulators of children’s emotions.”
Spilt, J. L., Bosmans, G., & Verschueren, K. (2021). Teachers as co-regulators of children’s emotions: A descriptive study of teacher-child emotion dialogues in special education. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 112, 103894.
Summary By: Shekufeh Monadjem – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enables students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.
- Fivush, R., Berlin, L., McDermott Sales, J., Mennuti-Washburn, J., & Cassidy, J. (2003). Functions of parent-child reminiscing about emotionally negative events. Memory, 11, 179–192. https://doi.org/10.1080/741938209.
- Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., & Zinsser, K. (2012). Early childhood teachers as socializers of young children’s emotional competence. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40, 137–143. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-012-0504-2.