Examining the effect of hypermedia-based textual modifications and cognitive tools on middle school students' with reading difficulties comprehension of scientific concepts

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Special|Education, Technology of




More than 12.4 million students in the United States experience significant difficulties learning to read. These students are struggling to make adequate yearly progress in the general education curriculum. Traditional reading comprehension strategy instruction for students who struggle with reading has focused on providing students with a systematic means for approaching linear text structures. Unfortunately, this model does not account for emergent trends in education practice such as the inquiry-based instruction and increased use of technology in classroom settings. This study was designed to examine the efficacy of hypermedia-based textual modifications and cognitive tools in a middle school science curriculum. The three-week intervention was implemented in 62 inclusive classrooms in four New England middle schools. From a total sample of 1153 students, 302 students who were identified as low ability readers were randomly selected to receive text from the program at either the 4 th grade (treatment) or 8th grade (control) level. Low ability readers were disaggregated into two groups based on previous research: (1) students with RD (defined as scoring ≤ 25th percentile on standardized measures of reading achievement), and (2) poor readers (defined as scoring between the 26th and 50th percentile on standardized measures of reading achievement). Students' use of cognitive tools that were included in the program was monitored to determine the extent to which low ability readers used the tools and how those tools influenced their learning using a pre/posttest design. Six solutions forms were used as secondary measures of students' knowledge acquisition. Findings from this study indicate that adolescent students who were low ability readers (between 1--50th percentile) responded similarly to the three-week curriculum and interacted with the technology in similar ways.^