IES Funded Projects

IES has allocated $26,640,663 to 20 different universities and independent research organizations for various technology-based research projects as part of its mission to "improve education at all levels." The amount of the grants awarded ranges from $250,000 to $5,999,744. The grantees and a summary of their projects follow.

1. CAST Inc.

Reading to learn: Investigating general and domain-specific supports in a technology-rich environment with diverse readers learning from informational text.

Project focus: Develop a computer-based instructional approach that will support readers at risk for literacy difficulties and will accelerate their development of reading comprehension, especially for informational text.

2. University of Colorado

Research on and with novel educational technologies for comprehension.

Project focus: Develop a series of computer-managed instructional activities that will help middle school, high school and college students with limited vocabularies acquire substantially larger vocabularies necessary for high-level comprehension.

3. University of Memphis

Coh-metrix: Automated cohesion and coherence scores to predict text readability and facilitate comprehension.

Project focus: Develop two automated tools to enable writers, editors and educators to more accurately estimate the appropriateness of a text for their audience and to pinpoint specific problems with the text.

4. The Pennsylvania State University

Intelligent Tutoring Using the Structure Strategy to Improve Reading Comprehension of Middle School Students.

Project focus: Address students' failure to identify main ideas from expository text, as well as give cohesive and complete accounts of what they read through a Web-based intelligent tutoring intervention for middle school students.

5. Carnegie Mellon University

Reader-Specific Lexical Practice for Improved Reading Comprehension.

Project focus: Using recent improvements in computer science, develop a search engine tailored for selecting text passages that meet very detailed student information needs, including topic, difficulty level and desired vocabulary patterns.

6. Northern Illinois University

Improving students' comprehension and construction of arguments.

Project focus: Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an instructional program for teaching high school and college students to better comprehend, evaluate and produce written arguments using a Web-based tutoring system.

7. University of California, Los Angeles

Introducing desirable difficulties for educational applications in science.

Project focus: Determine whether interventions that slow the rate of learning and appear to enhance long-term information retention can generalize to other contexts involving middle school and college students.

8. Columbia University

Study Enhancement Based on Principles of Cognitive Science.

Project focus: Improve academic performance by changing the way children approach studying by using a computer-based study program based on principles of cognitive science, and designed to target and improve memory and learning.

9. Washington University

Test-Enhanced Learning.

Project focus: Provide a new approach to learning, memory and comprehension of written material by examining the effectiveness of using testing as a learning tool in a Web-based university course.

10. Carnegie Mellon University

The Neural Markers of Effective Learning.

Project focus: Use brain imaging to improve the design of a computer-based instructional approach to teaching key algebraic concepts. Effectiveness will be evaluated by assessing student gains on solving word problems.

11. University of Maryland, College Park

Computer-Assisted Instruction for Learning and Long-Term Retention Based on Recent Cognitive and Metacognitive Findings.

Project focus: Improve computer-assisted instruction designed to facilitate the learning and long-term retention of second-language vocabulary by creating an individualized computer tutor for children and adults.

12. LessonLab Inc.

Improving Achievement by Maintaining the Learning Potential of Rich Mathematics Problems: An Experimental Study of a Video- and Internet-Based Professional Development Program.

Project focus: Create a video- and Internet-based professional development program in which middle school pre-algebra teachers learn to identify, design and incorporate mathematically rich problems in ways that retain rich learning opportunities for students.

13. University of Texas Health Center
Scaling Up a Language and Literacy Development Program at the PreK Level.

Project focus: Examine the effectiveness of an online early literacy professional development model for early childhood teachers. The university's project promises to contribute to our knowledge of technologically supported teacher professional development.

14. Univ. of Texas Health Science Center

Scaling Up an Assessment-Driven Intervention Using the Internet and Handheld Computers.

Project focus: Investigate the effectiveness of an intervention that uses the Internet and handheld computers to help teachers link results from reading inventories to instructional practice to produce improvements in student achievement.

15. Southern Methodist University

Scaling Up Effective Intervention for Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children.

Project focus: Study the relative effectiveness of approaches to teaching reading when early literacy intervention teachers are provided with differing models of professional development that use computer-based systems for content delivery and coaching.

16. University of California at Berkeley

A Longitudinal Study of the Effectiveness of a PreK Multisensory Literacy Curriculum, Teacher Experience and Professional Development.

Project focus: Examine the efficacy of an interactive, multisensory technology-based literacy curriculum with at-risk preschool children, which focuses on literacy skills that are essential to reading success in the first grade.

17. The Media Group of Connecticut Inc.

Remarkable Reading Machine: A Video/Electronic Media Training Program of Evidence-Based Interventions to Strengthen Emergent Literacy Skills of At-Risk Children from Low-Income Families in Any Child Care Setting.

Project focus: Create a highly motivational video/electronic media-training program on emergent literacy interventions for at-risk preschoolers and their parents and/or caregivers that can be used in any child care setting.

18. USteach Inc.

Synchronized Multimedia E-Book Development for Reading Fluency and Comprehension.

Project focus: Demonstrate improvement in second- and third-graders' reading fluency and comprehension through sustained interaction with e-books. Their reading performance will be compared to students without computer support or with another computer-based program.

19. Quantum Simulations Inc.

Phase II: Artificial Intelligence Software for Student Assessment in Chemistry.

Project focus: Advance the state of the art in chemistry education software through the development of meaningful interactive tutoring and assessment capabilities for chemistry problem solving.

20. The NeuronFarm LLC
Training the Tutors: Literacy e-courses.

Project focus: Develop a set of eight e-courses based on empirically verified principles of learning and effective literacy instruction to improve tutor training.


IES has allocated $26,640,663 to 20 different universities and independent research organizations for various technology-based research projects as part of its mission to "improve education at all levels." The amount of the grants awarded ranges from $250,000 to $5,999,744. The grantees and a summary of their projects follow.

CAST Inc.

Reading to learn: Investigating general and domain-specific supports in a technology-rich environment with diverse readers learning from informational text.
Principal investigator: Dr. Bridget Dalton
Online: www.cast.org/udl/index.cfm?i=4577
Students today must be able to comprehend complex text, including material presented in a multimedia Web-based format. This research team will develop a computer-based instructional approach that will support readers at risk for literacy difficulties and will accelerate their development of reading comprehension, especially for informational text. In addition, the researchers will determine how the genre of text being read (e.g., narrative vs. science), the way in which the text is presented (e.g., multimedia Website vs. digital text only), and how varying computer-based supports affect text comprehension by both struggling and average urban fourth-grade readers.

University of Colorado

Research on and with novel educational technologies for comprehension.
Principal investigator: Dr. Thomas Landauer
Online: http://cslr.colorado.edu
Learning to read and comprehend at a high level requires a large vocabulary. However, acquiring a large vocabulary requires extensive experience reading books filled with words the struggling reader d'es not know. For many students, breaking this vicious circle requires more practice than schools can provide. The investigators will develop a series of computer-managed instructional activities that will help students who have limited vocabularies acquire the substantially larger vocabularies necessary for high-level comprehension. They will evaluate the effects of these computer-based instructional activities on the enlargement of students' vocabularies in middle school, high school and college.

University of Memphis

Coh-metrix: Automated cohesion and coherence scores to predict text readability and facilitate comprehension.
Principal investigator: Dr. Danielle McNamara
Online: http://cohmetrix.memphis.edu/cohmetrixpr/index.html
The long-term goal of this research team is to improve reading comprehension in classrooms by providing tools to improve textbook writing and more appropriately match textbooks to the intended students. The current practice of determining the reading level of textbooks d'es not reflect scientific advances in understanding what makes written text understandable. This research team plans to develop two automated tools (Coh-Metrix and Coh-GIT) that will enable writers, editors and educators to more accurately estimate the appropriateness of a text for their audience, as well as to pinpoint specific problems with the text. Using these tools, the researchers will experimentally examine the effects of text cohesion on reading comprehension with respect to reader aptitudes (e.g., prior knowledge, reading ability and motivation) in third- to fifth-grade students and college undergraduates.

The Pennsylvania State University

Intelligent Tutoring Using the Structure Strategy to Improve Reading Comprehension of Middle School Students.
Principal investigator: Bonnie Meyer
Online: www.ed.psu.edu/news/middlereading.asp
Some students fail to succeed in identifying main ideas from expository text and giving cohesive and complete accounts of what they read because of how they read. The investigators will address this reading comprehension problem through a Web-based intelligent tutoring intervention for middle school students. The Web-based intelligent tutor will teach students how to use text structures strategically when reading to support understanding and memory. It will also guide them through the process of identifying main ideas.

Carnegie Mellon University

Reader-Specific Lexical Practice for Improved Reading Comprehension.
Principal investigator: Jamie Callan
Online: http://hartford.lti.cs.cmu.edu/Reap
Providing individually tailored reading practice may be the best way to support the development of reading comprehension. However, teachers are often not able to create individual reading lessons for each of their 20 to 30 students. Using recent improvements in computer science, this research project will develop a search engine tailored for selecting text passages that meet very detailed student information needs (e.g., texts on a particular topic, at a specific level of difficulty and exhibiting desired vocabulary patterns). The research will also develop a software application that identifies reading material using the Web that is tailored to each student's individual interests and reading level.

Northern Illinois University

Improving students' comprehension and construction of arguments.
Principal investigator: Dr. Anne Britt
Online: www.niu.edu/index.html
High school and college students are expected to learn to comprehend and evaluate written arguments. Recent assessments, however, show that most students lack such skills. The primary objective of this study is to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an instructional program for teaching students to better comprehend and produce arguments using a Web-based tutoring system.

University of California, Los Angeles

Introducing desirable difficulties for educational applications in science.
Principal investigator: Dr. Robert Bjork
Online: www.ucla.edu/
Laboratory research indicates that in many cases, interventions that appear to make learning more difficult and slow the rate of learning can actually be effective in enhancing long-term retention of information. The goal of this research is to determine whether the benefits of these "desirable difficulties," demonstrated in laboratory tasks, can generalize to realistic educational materials and contexts involving middle school and college students using the Web-Based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) program.

Columbia University

Study Enhancement Based on Principles of Cognitive Science.
Principal investigator: Janet Metcalfe
Online: www.columbia.edu/
Using a highly flexible and effective computer-based study program based on principles of cognitive science and designed to specifically target and improve memory and learning, this research team seeks to improve academic performance by changing the way children approach studying. The computer-based tutor will be tested with a group of urban inner-city sixth- and seventh-grade children studying academic content.

Washington University

Test-Enhanced Learning.
Principal investigator: Henry R'ediger III
Online: www.wustl.edu/
This project provides a new approach to learning, memorization and comprehension of written material. Traditional studies in educational psychology emphasize the way material is organized and/or study strategies during learning. In contrast, the present approach emphasizes the power of testing in enhancing learning, while also examining the effectiveness of using testing as a learning tool in a Web-based university course.

Carnegie Mellon University

The Neural Markers of Effective Learning.
Principal investigator: John Anderson
Online: www.cmu.edu/
Failure to learn the mathematics necessary for success in algebra is widespread. At the same time, success in algebra is considered the gatekeeper to pursuing careers in mathematics and science. This research team will use brain imaging to improve the design of a computer-based instructional approach to teaching key algebraic concepts. Over the course of the research, the cognitive computer tutor for algebra word problems will be substantially modified, refined and improved. The effectiveness of the tutor will be evaluated by assessing student gains on the class of word problems used in the curriculum as well as transfer problems that generalize the relationships in the word problems.

University of Maryland, College Park

Computer-Assisted Instruction for Learning and Long-Term Retention Based on Recent Cognitive and Metacognitive Findings.
Principal investigator: Thomas Nelson
Online: www.umd.edu/
The main focus of this project is to improve computer-assisted instruction (CAI) designed to facilitate the learning and long-term retention of second-language vocabulary. This newly developed second-language CAI will use individuals' prior learning patterns and judgments of learning in order to create a highly effective and individualized computer tutor that can be used by both children and adults who are second-language learners.

LessonLab Inc.

Improving Achievement by Maintaining the Learning Potential of Rich Mathematics Problems: An Experimental Study of a Video- and Internet-Based Professional Development Program.
Principal investigator: James Stigler
Online: www.lessonlab.com/research/curProj.htm
International comparisons indicate that middle school students in the United States are outperformed in mathematics achievement by students in many other countries. U.S. mathematics lessons rarely involve discussions of rich mathematical problems, in sharp contrast to lessons in the higher achieving countries, which participated in the TIMSS 1999 Video Study. The team created a video- and Internet-based professional development program in which middle school prealgebra teachers learn to identify, design, and incorporate mathematically rich problems in ways that retain their rich learning opportunities for students.

University of Texas Health Center

Scaling Up a Language and Literacy Development Program at the PreK Level.
Principal investigator: Susan Landry
Online: http://ped1.med.uth.tmc.edu/circle/index.htm
Providing effective professional development to teachers in a way that improves their knowledge and skills but is convenient for the working teacher is a challenge. This study will examine the effectiveness of an online early literacy professional development model for early childhood teachers. This project promises to contribute to our knowledge of technologically supported teacher professional development.

University of Texas Health Science Center

Scaling Up an Assessment-Driven Intervention Using the Internet and Handheld Computers.
Principal investigator: Barbara Foorman
Online: www.tea.state.tx.us/technology/pilots/pilots_tpri.html
Teachers are challenged to provide instruction that meets the individual needs of their students. But how can they accurately and efficiently assess and monitor each student's learning? This research team investigates the effectiveness of an intervention that uses the Internet and handheld computers to help teachers link results from reading inventories to instructional practice. This intervention is designed to help teachers make connections between assessment and instruction that will produce significant improvements in student achievement.

Southern Methodist University

Scaling Up Effective Intervention for Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children.
Principal investigator: Patricia Mathes
Online: www.smu.edu/
www.texasreading.org/utcrla/projects/scale_up.asp
Perhaps the greatest tragedy in education today is that we are not exploiting what is known about reducing the incidence of reading failure. Success or failure in learning to read in the early grades essentially determines a child's educational trajectory. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that early literacy intervention can interrupt this cycle of failure. This research team will study the relative effectiveness of approaches to teaching reading when intervention teachers are provided with differing models of ongoing professional development that take advantage of using sophisticated computer-based systems for delivery of content and high-quality coaching.

University of California at Berkeley

A Longitudinal Study of the Effectiveness of a PreK Multisensory Literacy Curriculum, Teacher Experience and Professional Development.
Principal investigator: Anne Cunningham
Online: www.berkeley.edu/
www.leapfrogschoolhouse.com/News/jan_2004_D'E.asp
In the last 15 years, significant progress has been made in identifying the developmental skills that prepare young children to read, as well as in identifying those children who are more at risk for reading difficulties. Recent evidence suggests that preparation of early literacy skills must occur prior to kindergarten entry. This study will examine the efficacy of LeapFrog SchoolHouse's "Ready, Set, Leap!" (RSL) literacy curriculum with at-risk preschool children. The RSL curriculum focuses on important literacy skills (e.g., phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle) that are essential to reading success in the first grade. The RSL curriculum is an interactive approach to learning that uses multisensory technology (e.g., a LeapPad Learning System from LeapFrog SchoolHouse) and engaging literature to support literacy development. Preliminary research findings indicate that the program results in meaningful literacy learning outcomes for young children.

The Media Group of Connecticut Inc.

Remarkable Reading Machine: A Video/Electronic Media Training Program of Evidence-Based Interventions to Strengthen Emergent Literacy Skills of At-Risk Children from Low-Income Families in any Childcare Setting.
Principal investigator: Harvey Bellin
Too many children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn how to read. New research offers reliable emergent literacy interventions for at-risk preschoolers. But parents and caregivers most in need of this training are the ones least likely to know that it exists. This project will create a highly motivational video/electronic media training program for children and their parents and/or caregivers. The resulting product will be a low-cost, easy-to-use, easily replicated, empirically tested, evidence-based training program that will strengthen the emergent literacy skills of at-risk preschoolers from poor families in any child-care setting.

USteach Inc.

Synchronized Multimedia E-Book Development for Reading Fluency and Comprehension.
Principal investigator: Robert Berdan
In this research and development project, the team will demonstrate improvement in children's reading fluency and comprehension through sustained interaction with computer-based multimedia e-books. Second- and third-graders will read e-books, and their reading performance will be compared to students reading without computer support or with another computer-based reading program.

Quantum Simulations Inc.

Phase II: Artificial Intelligence Software for Student Assessment in Chemistry.
Principal investigator: Dale Holder
Online: www.quantumsimulations.com/home.html
The goal of this project is to advance the state of the art in chemistry education software. The focus of this innovation is the development of meaningful interactive tutoring and assessment capabilities for chemistry problem solving. More than just assigning a grade, meaningful opportunities will be created to learn directly from the assessment itself. The technology will benefit all students; however, it is specifically targeted to help those of greatest need, such as students of average or marginal performance and students from historically underserved groups, by lowering barriers to accessing high-quality instructional software.

The NeuronFarm LLC

Training the Tutors: Literacy e-courses.
Principal investigator: Mina C. Johnson-Glenberg
Online: www.neuronfarm.com/home.html
Literacy tutors have been very successful in positively affecting the outcomes of struggling readers. However, tutor training is, at present, both costly to deliver and highly variable in quality. In this project, we will develop a set of eight e-courses based on empirically verified principles of learning and effective literacy instruction, and designed to improve tutor training. These e-courses should reach more than a thousand tutors in the first year. At the same time, experiments embedded in the e-courses will enable us to evaluate the efficacy of interactivity and pop quizzes.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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