Denton, C. A., Hall, C., Cho, E., Cannon, G., Scammacca, N., & Wanzek, J. (2022, January). A meta-analysis of the effects of foundation skills and multicomponent reading interventions on reading comprehension for primary-grade students. Learning and Individual Differences, 93, Article 102062. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2021.102062
The simple view of reading is that reading comprehension is a product of word recognition and linguistic comprehension (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Hoover & Gough, 1990). According to this theory, intervention focused on word recognition, comprehension, or both, could positively affect reading comprehension. Prior meta-analyses have demonstrated moderate effects on reading comprehension for students with RDs (i.e., students with or at risk for reading difficulties or disabilities) in kindergarten through Grade 3 (Suggate, 2010; Wanzek et al., 2016).
Denton and colleagues (2022) aimed to extend those meta-analyses and examine the effects of foundational reading skills interventions on reading comprehension for students with RDs in Grades K–3. There is little research evidence of the relative effects of foundational reading skills and multicomponent interventions on reading comprehension for students in primary grades. Preliminary evidence suggests no significant difference in the effects between providing phonics or word recognition instruction and word-level instruction combined with comprehension instruction for students in Grades 1–2 (Berninger et al., 2003; Vadasy et al., 2002). Denton et al. also aimed to investigate whether the effects of reading interventions on reading comprehension vary depending on the intervention focus.
Denton et al. (2022) conducted an electronic database search to identify updated studies. The key inclusion criteria were (a) participants with or at risk of learning disabilities or reading difficulties, (b) participants in Grade K-3, (c) interventions provided foundational reading skills instruction, with or without instruction targeting text comprehension, and (d) dependent variables including standardized or norm-referenced reading comprehension measure. Studies analyzed by Wanzek et al. (2016) and Wanzek et al. (2018) that met inclusion criteria were utilized. The total number of studies examined included 23 studies from updated electronic search, 13 studies from Wanzek et al. (2016), and 11 studies from Wanzek et al. (2018).
1. What is the main effect of reading interventions that provide instruction in foundational reading skills on reading comprehension for students with RDs in Grades K-3?
Reading interventions that provide instruction in foundational reading skills had moderate effect size (g = 0.37, 95% CI [0.27, 0.47], p < .01).
2. Are the effects on reading comprehension moderated by the focus of instruction?
Researchers examined moderation with foundational-skills-only instruction and multicomponent instruction. The mean effects of the two instruction categories did not differ significantly (F = 0.94, df = 14.60, p < .35).
3. Are the effects on reading comprehension moderated by the dosage of intervention or methodological factors?
The moderate effect (g = 0.37) on reading comprehension indicates that foundational reading skills interventions have a meaningful impact on reading comprehension for students with RDs in primary grades. Through the moderator analysis, Denton et al. (2022) demonstrated that foundational-reading-skills-only instruction and multicomponent instruction positively affect reading comprehension. This finding supports the simple view of reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Hoover & Gough, 1990) that expects improvement in word recognition to improve reading comprehension as reading comprehension is a product of word recognition and linguistic comprehension skill.
The long-term effects of reading comprehension should be considered when interpreting this result. While word reading tends to have a larger contribution to reading comprehension for primary grades, the importance of linguistic comprehension (e.g., vocabulary knowledge, background knowledge) increases beyond the primary grades (Tighe & Schatschneider, 2014). Thus, emphasizing language comprehension in primary grade may yield benefits in later grades.
Implications for practice
Implications for research
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Tighe, E. L., & Schatschneider, C. (2014). A dominance analysis approach to determining predictor importance in third, seventh, and tenth grade reading comprehension skills. Reading and Writing, 27(1), 101–127. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-013-9435-6
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Wanzek, J., Stevens, E. A., Williams, K. J., Scammacca, N., Vaughn, S., & Sargent, K. (2018). Current evidence on the effects of intensive early reading interventions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51(6), 612–624. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222194187751
Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M. A., & Capin, P. (2016). Meta-analyses of the effects of Tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K–3. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 551–576. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9321-7