Dr. Wijekumar is Houston Endowed Chair at Texas A&M University. She is a passionate advocate for literacy for all. She is an engaging speaker who has delivered over 500 professional development sessions and is the principal investigator and developer of the ITSS and MOOV tools.
Co-Author: Debra McKeown
Astronomical Improvements in Reading Comprehension with Web-Based Intelligent Tutoring for Students and Teachers.
One-hundred percent pass rates for students learning to generate a gist, summary, and inferences on the web-based intelligent tutoring system for the text structure strategy (ITSS). Further, teachers are able to learn how to teach reading comprehension effectively using the massively open online virtual (MOOV) learning system for reading. We present findings from both systems showing significant improvements for both students and teachers.
Because reading comprehension is the foundation of all academic learning and civic engagement it is important to help children growing up in economically disadvantaged areas successfully learn the skill. The objective of the framework for accelerating strategic comprehension of text (FASCT) was to teach children in grades 4 and 5 how to read and comprehend expository texts using five text structures: comparison, problem and solution, cause and effect, sequence, and description. FASCT utilizes a web-based intelligent tutoring system to present instruction to children in English and Spanish and a strong teacher professional development component. Instruction about text structures are designed to guide students to select important ideas while reading, logically connect the ideas using one or more text structures, generate a strategic hierarchical memory structure, utilize these memory structures to write a main idea, make inferences, elaborate, write to inform, and write to persuade.
The current efficacy study uses a cluster randomized controlled study powered to answer a primary research question. The participating schools overall student population was 82% socioeconomically disadvantaged. Approximately 120 fifth-grade and 120 fourth-grade teachers were randomly assigned to the FASCT-ITSS and control groups.
Observations, surveys, coaching session notes, focus groups, and computer logs were reviewed to gather data about the implementation of FASCT-ITSS and to document implementation fidelity.
Students using the FASCT intervention made larger gains than control students on reading posttest measures at both grade levels. Effect sizes of FASCT on the standardized GSRT reading comprehension measure ranged from moderate (ES = .65 for Grade 5) to large (ES = .81 for Grade 4). Effect sizes were large for the signaling skill at both grade levels. Most importantly, exploratory analysis on state level high stakes assessments showed even larger effect sizes favoring the intervention schools.