MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Boston University's Amie Grills will present next month at a national conference of The Dyslexia Foundation at UCLA.
Their presentation, "Classroom Strategies to Address Anxiety in Children Who Struggle With Reading," will explore the MCPER project Improving Reading and Reducing Reading Anxiety Among Students With Reading Difficulties. Along with MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts, Vaughn and Grills are co-principal investigators of the project, the first and only initiative with 2 years of data on anxiety and struggling readers.
The theme of this year's conference, to be held on February 14, is "Dyslexia and Literacy: Understanding Anxiety and the Struggling Reader." According to The Dyslexia Foundation, the conference is designed to help "teachers, practitioners, and parents ... learn to identify, understand, and provide evidence-based instruction for struggling readers who have anxiety. The focus of these discussions will be for school-age students." For more information and to register, visit the website of The Dyslexia Foundation.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded researchers at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and Boston University a $2.9 million, 5-year grant to investigate practices for improving reading comprehension and reducing reading anxiety of fourth- and fifth-grade students with reading difficulties.
The grant will allow MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn and Amie Grills of Boston University to build on their previous research investigating the relation between reading difficulties and reading anxiety and approaches to improving reading performance and reducing anxiety. Their previous research demonstrates a high prevalence of anxiety among children experiencing reading difficulties. To address this problem, Grills and Vaughn conducted a pilot study examining the effects of a reading intervention program that featured strategies for reducing anxiety. Their research findings provide preliminary evidence that significant reductions in anxiety occur when students receive anxiety-management instruction within a reading intervention.
Over the next 5 years, the researchers will further develop and test an integrated approach in a randomized clinical trial with students in Texas and Massachusetts. Students randomized to receive the intervention will participate for 2 consecutive years beginning in fourth grade. Instructional practices for reducing anxiety will focus on three core areas: (1) recognizing feelings and understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related; (2) practicing various relaxation and stress-management skills; and (3) recognizing anxious and unhelpful thoughts and changing them. These practices will be embedded within reading intervention lessons found in previous studies to improve student decoding and reading comprehension outcomes. The project team will evaluate the effects of the reading and anxiety practices by examining student performance on reading and socioemotional measures.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to conduct a relatively unique approach to better understanding whether we can both reduce anxiety and improve reading outcomes for students with significant reading problems," Grills said.
For more information about this project, visit the project webpage.