Digital scaffolding to support adolescent literacy

Digital scaffolding to support adolescent literacy

First Author: Penelope Collins -- University of California, Irvine
Additional authors/chairs: 
Mark Warschauer; George Farkas; Tamara Tate; Jenell Krishnan; Joanna Yau; Ying Xu; Yenda Prado
Keywords: Intervention, Reading, Writing
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose – The complex language and text structures encountered in school texts can impede middle school students’ literacy achievement. Live Ink is a digital tool that transform traditional block-shaped text into cascading patterns that help readers identify grammatical structure. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which Live Ink enhances reading and writing performance.

Method – Approximately 52 teachers in 10 schools, who taught 3,555 students in 170 7th and 8th grade classes, participated in a randomized control trial. Students in treatment and control classroom read materials in either Live Ink-formatting or traditional block formatting, respectively, for 40 minutes throughout the school year. At the end of the school year, students completed the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test in English Language Arts (ELA), which included subtests for Reading and for Writing. Students also completed an on-demand prompt-based essay from’s Revision Assistant, an automated writing evaluation program. Both the SBAC test and the prompt-based essay were presented using traditional, blocked text for all students.

Results – Preliminary regression analyses revealed a significant treatment effect, when controlling for the prior year’s SBAC scores, for overall ELA performance, as well as small effect for the Reading subtest and a moderate effect for the Writing subtest. However there was no treatment effect for the on-demand, prompt-based essay.

Conclusions – Our preliminary findings suggest that Live Ink formatting can be an effective scaffold to advance adolescents’ reading and writing skills, with benefits transferring to typically formatted texts.