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Model of Reading Engagement
Last registered on April 21, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
Model of Reading Engagement
Initial registration date
March 24, 2017
Last updated
April 21, 2017 2:24 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Despite investing millions of dollars in large-scale literacy interventions and programs, researchers, policymakers, and educators are struggling to improve low-income children’s reading comprehension outcomes. In urban districts like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina (CMS), only 27% of low-income children read proficiently on the Grade 4 National Assessment of Reading, which assesses students’ reading comprehension—that is, their ability to form a deep understanding of science and social studies texts. To address the challenge of accelerating low-income children’s reading comprehension, district leaders in Charlotte, NC have undertaken a strategic plan to improve students’ ability to read and write with evidence in response to informational text. Despite the progress made to date, district leaders—the Chief Academic Officer, Director of K-12 Literacy, and the Executive Director of K-5 Learning and Teaching—are eager to build on a research-practice partnership to study innovative and evidence-based models of reading instruction.
This project aims to explore whether implementation of a Model of Reading Engagement (MORE) can improve long-term reading comprehension outcomes in high-poverty elementary schools. The model addresses critical gaps in research and practice. First, we bring conceptual clarity to the idea of “reading engagement” by validating an instructional model for promoting students’ reading engagement at school and home. Put simply, our definition of reading engagement is this: Engaged readers are motivated to read deeply in school to acquire conceptual knowledge and to read widely at home for enjoyment (Cipielewski & Stanovich, 1992; Guthrie et al., 1998; Guthrie & Wigfield; 2000; Kim et al., 2016a). Teacher instruction during the school year is critical to fostering engaged readers. In essence, teacher instruction is the key lever that is likely (a) to improve students’ informational text comprehension and motivation to read and learn in science through a 6-lesson thematic unit and (b) to promote wide reading of informational books at home during summer and ultimately improvement in reading comprehension.
The present project systematically tests an innovation in a tightly controlled research design in one district. In the context of a research-practice partnership in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, we will explore how MORE fosters students’ motivation and comprehension of informational books in school (i.e., science texts), wide reading of informational texts at home, and reading comprehension outcomes.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
kim, james. 2017. "Model of Reading Engagement." AEA RCT Registry. April 21. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2104-3.0.
Former Citation
kim, james. 2017. "Model of Reading Engagement." AEA RCT Registry. April 21. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2104/history/16814.
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Experimental Details
Our program theory describes the important role of teacher instruction in removing these barriers to success. Importantly, we posit that students’ reading engagement is more likely to prevail in school and home contexts that incorporate the key components and activities that underpin MORE.
Deep reading requires students to incorporate previously known concepts and information with new conceptual information in texts. To foster readers who have a deep understanding of disciplinary texts, teachers must (a) encourage students’ motivation to read and their engagement while reading; (b) develop comprehension strategies that enhance reading comprehension and science concept learning; and (c) match texts to readers so that comprehension of informational text is facilitated. In MORE, students participate in a 6-day thematic unit on animal and plant survival during the school-year. We chose this conceptual theme in order to align with the North Carolina Essential Standards and, in particular, the core science concepts, “ecosystems” and “structures and functions of living organisms.” Essential standards related to these core science concepts spiral upward from kindergarten through the middle-school grades and into high school.
Teacher instruction during this unit will include a focus on readings in related concepts, for example: survival, adaptation, habitat, and environment. Teachers will use high-quality read alouds to generate interest in the theme and engage students in rich discussion on these concepts. Students will also participate in both guided and independent reading. This systematic and sustained reading around related concepts advances students’ knowledge. Furthermore, lessons will use these texts to incorporate explicit strategy instruction, including: questioning, visualizing, drawing inferences, and summarizing.
In addition to a focus on building conceptual knowledge, teachers will enact lessons in this unit that foster student motivation and engagement. For one, lessons will support students’ perceived autonomy—i.e., the belief that they control their own behavior (Skinner, Wellborn, & Connell, 1990). Specific autonomy supports may include: positioning students to become experts (e.g., in how a particular animal or plant survives), creating a collaborative classroom climate (e.g., creating opportunities for students to share their expertise with others), teaching students to monitor their progress (e.g., helping students set personal goals), and giving students responsibility in the classroom (e.g., caring for a plant) (Swan, 2003). Other motivational supports may include: hands-on activities, high-interest texts, and mastery goals.
Home reading instruction will take place in the final lesson. Similar to in-school instruction, home instruction encourages students’ motivation to read by providing access to high-interest and appropriately leveled texts and comprehension strategies to engage more deeply with texts. Prior experimental research indicates that the combination of teacher instruction and opportunities to read matched books is more effective than simply providing children with more books (Kim & White, 2008).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Informational Text Concept Knowledge (ITCK). Our informational text concept knowledge (ITCK) measure will include multiple choice and open-ended questions assessing students' understanding of key concepts from the unit.
Motivation for Reading Informational Books in School (MRIB-S). We will administer three sub-scales from the Motivation for Reading Informational Books in School questionnaire, developed by Guthrie, Klauda and Ho (2013): intrinsic motivation, valuing of reading, and self-efficacy. Each subscale is measured with seven items, using a 4-point Likert scale ranging from “not at all true of me” to “very true of me.” In previous research, reliabilities for these subscales ranged from α = 69 to .90.
Finally, to assess students’ reading engagement at the end of the unit, teachers in control and treatment conditions will complete the Reading Engagement Index (REI), and rate each student in their classrooms from a 1 to 4 scale (not true to very true) on 8 items: (a) reads often independently, (b) reads favorite topics and authors, (c) distracts easily in self-selected reading, (d) works hard in reading, (e) is a confident reader, (f) uses comprehension strategies well, (g) thinks deeply about the content of texts, and (h) enjoys discussing books with peers. The REI has a reported reliability of α = 0.92 (Wigfield et al., 2008).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
First, second and fourth grade teachers (n=10) were randomly assigned to either Phase 1 or Phase 2 MORE implementation. We use a switching replications design, wherein 5 teachers implement MORE in Phase 1 while 5 implement business-as-usual instruction. In Phase 2, Phase 1 control teachers implement the 6 MORE lessons while Phase 1 treatment teachers serve as a business-as-usual control condition.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random assignment done in office by a computer using STATA.
Randomization Unit
10 clusters (classrooms: grade 1 (n = 6), grade 2 (n = 2), grade 4 (n = 2)
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
10 clusters (classrooms: grade 1 (n = 6), grade 2 (n = 2), grade 4 (n = 2)
Sample size: planned number of observations
173 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Phase 1 Treatment: 5 teachers, 87 students; Phase 2 Treatment: 5 teachers, 84 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB Name
A Model of Reading Engagement (MORE) Pilot Study in David Cox Elementary School in Charlotte, NC
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)