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The TICA Research Project (IES Grant)

Teaching Internet Comprehension to Adolescents -

Developing Internet Comprehension Strategies among Poor, Adolescent Students at Risk to Become Dropouts


Please click here for the new joint Clemson and Uconn TICA website.


The University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education has received a $1.8 million 3-year research grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to study the new literacies of reading comprehension on the Internet. The project began on July 1, 2005. The New Literacies Research Team, headed by Dr. Donald J. Leu, is collaborating with Dr. David Reinking and a team of graduate students from Clemson University in this research program. Efforts will focus on seventh grade rural South Carolina and urban Connecticut school districts with typically low-achieving readers who are most at risk of dropping out of school. Through an integrated sequence of studies, team members will develop a research-based adaptation of reciprocal teaching to support these students in acquiring the challenging, higher-level comprehension skills the Internet demands. The research will focus on increasing students’ ability to identify important problems and then locate, critically evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information as they go about solving those problems online. This project will provide the research base to help prepare students for the reading and information demands of the 21st century.

NLRT and Clemson
Above, the Clemson and University of Connecticut grant teams pose with the board where the two teams worked together to map out plans for the three-year project

Primary Goals for Year 1
The primary goal of Year 1 of this study is to develop a theoretical, data-driven framework for producing high levels of comprehension, engagement, and school learning among students in the target population.  A secondary goal is to identify variables and to develop and pilot materials, procedures, and assessments that will guide our work in Years 2 and 3.

Activities in Year 1 seek to investigate the following research questions:
  • Among students in our target population, what is the nature and frequency of reading on the Internet inside and outside school?
  • Among students in our target population, what comprehension strategies, orientations, and patterns of use are evident as they engage in locating, evaluating, synthesizing, and communicating information on the Internet?
  • What type of instrument can reliably and validly measure online reading comprehension?
During Year 1, we will collect and analyze two sources of information to inform subsequent work: (a) a survey of students in our target population aimed at characterizing Internet use at home and at school and (b) verbal protocol data obtained from high volume Internet readers in our target population as they read informational texts obtained from the Internet. In addition, we will refine preliminary measures of online reading comprehension and begin to field test Internet Reciprocal Teaching (IRT), an adapted model of reciprocal teaching, as we prepare for the design studies scheduled for Year 2.  You can view videos gathered from earlier explorations with Internet Reciprocal Teaching from Jill Castek's 2005 conference presentation at the International Reading Association.

Primary Goals for Years 2 and 3

Using data and assessment procedures from Year 1, in Year 2 we will field test the viability of various approaches to implementing IRT towards increasing reading comprehension among adolescents at risk of becoming dropouts. Specifically, we will conduct a design
experiment to generate formative data aimed at refining intervention procedures and identifying key variables to control or manipulate in the conventional, experimental field-trials during Year 3. We will also continue to revine several integrated measures of online reading comprehension.

In Year 3, our major goal is to conduct an experiment with random assignment of treatment conditions at the classroom level using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) procedures. The proposed experimental design will test the effects of an adapted reciprocal teaching approach designed to increase reading comprehension and knowledge of effective Internet reading comprehension strategies. The experiment will span most of one academic year.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305G050154 to The University of Connecticut. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.


For more information about this project, please click here for the new joint Clemson and Uconn TICA website, or email Dr. Donald J. Leu at Donald.leu@uconn.edu



Neag School of Education
019 Gentry, 249 Glenbrook Rd, Storrs CT 06269
Phone: 860.486.0202 Fax: 860.486.2994
Email: donald.leu@uconn.edu