Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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National Center for the Study of Supported Electronic Text

Subcontract from the University of Oregon

Project Directors: Cynthia M. Okolo & Carol Sue Englert

This project is designed to begin to build a systematic research base that can help educators answer these questions, among others. Unfortunately, special educators have a history of viewing an innovation, such as digital versions of textbooks, as a panacea. But, solutions to the pervasive problem of lower-than-expected achievement for students with disabilities are never that simple. Understanding more fully how to transform text in ways that truly support learning and motivation is one important step toward improving the content-area learning of all students—and toward making better use of technology for instruction in our schools.

To these ends, we are investigating he impact of various forms of supported text with students with learning disabilities. Over the course of the project, we are working with 5th and 6th grade students in social studies and language arts classes. Texts in social studies and language arts often have similar text structures (e.g., narrative) but rely on different types of information (e.g., social studies text typically make more extensive use of pictures and other artifacts to support the narrative). Thus, we will be able to contrast how different aspects of text structure and textual information affect students’ use of supported text. In each of our studies, we use multielement designs to investigate differences in students’ text comprehension and engagement when they read text aloud versus when the text is read to them by a text-to-speech software program with different types of highlighting, vocabulary, word recognition features.