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ERIC Number: ED524748
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 40
Individualizing Student Literacy Instruction: Implications of Child Characteristics by Instruction Interactions on Students' Reading Skill Growth
Connor, Carol McDonald; Morrison, Frederick J.; Fishman, Barry; Schatschneider, Christopher; Underwood, Phyllis; Crowe, Elizabeth
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Many children fail to reach proficient levels in reading only because they do not receive the amount and type of instruction they need (Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Morrison, Bachman, & Connor, 2005 2005; Vellutino, Scanlon, Sipay, Small, Pratt, Chen, & Denckla, 1996). However, providing effective instruction may be more complex than many of the current models of instruction and learning imply. Accumulating evidence reveals that the effect of any particular instructional strategy will vary with each child's language and literacy skills (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004a 2004; Foorman et al., 1998 Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000). The authors have called these "child characteristic by instruction ("child X instruction") interactions" (Connor et al., 2004a 2004). They have also been called "aptitude X treatment interactions" (Cronbach & Snow, 1977). The purpose of this study was to test whether child X instruction interactions are causally implicated in the widely varying achievement observed within and between classrooms. Individualized student instruction (ISI) operationalizes ecological and transactional theories of child development, which, as Yoshikawa and Hsueh (2001) note, are dynamic system theories. In ISI, tailored amounts and types of reading instruction are computed for each student using algorithms that consider the dynamic and non-linear relations among child characteristics and key types of literacy instruction. In essence, the algorithms translate empirically derived projections of what comprises optimal reading instruction and provide recommendations that teachers can implement in the classroom. The authors asked the following research questions: (1) What was the effect of individualizing student literacy instruction (i.e., the ISI intervention) compared to high quality literacy instruction that was not individualized (control group); and (2) was the ISI intervention more or less effective based on child characteristics, specifically initial vocabulary and reading skills? This study was conducted in a economically and ethnically diverse school district in north Florida. Three hundred sixty-nine children in 25 classrooms from 7 schools participated in this cluster randomized control field trial. Findings reveal that students whose teachers (within schools) implemented the ISI intervention demonstrated significantly greater gains in word reading scores than did students whose teachers and schools were in the control group and conducted literacy instruction as usual. There are clear challenges to implementing ISI, in addition to the well documented challenges teachers face, such as lack of time and resources (Cohen, Raudenbush, & Ball, 2003 2003). Implementing ISI requires: (a) enhanced responsiveness to students' instructional needs based on assessment results, (b) masterful classroom planning and organization, and (c) a firm and fluent grasp of how to teach reading effectively. Although analyses of classroom observation video are ongoing, preliminary results along with results from Study 1 suggest that breakdowns in any one of these skills are associated with less teacher fidelity and weaker student reading outcomes. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 1
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Florida