SWELL Project Description

Improving Reading Comprehension of Middle Grades English Language Learners by Combining Structure Strategy with Web-Based Adaptive Tutoring for EL Learners (SWELL)

Description of the SWELL Intervention

SWELL is a web-based intelligent tutoring system that provides modeling, practice, assessment, and feedback to EL learners in a self-contained interactive environment. Each student will log into SWELL with their own username and password. When a student logs in, the SWELL software retrieves the students’ lesson pathway (initially created based on their WMLS-R score profiles on Spanish – literacy and oral skills and English literacy) and starts the lesson. To address the critical need for effective reading comprehension strategies, we will use a powerful approach – the structure strategy. SWELL is unique in that its web-based design will reduce the cognitive demands of reading in a non-dominant language by creating 3 specific adaptations that can be combined as needed for the profiles of these learners: (1) Spanish scaffolding - procedural instructions on how to use the structure strategy and practice passages previewed in Spanish followed by English language version of the lesson (passage can be easier version in English); (2) English preview - teaching of novel vocabulary in English and providing students access to on-click assistance at the word and sentence level – paraphrasing, getting easy definitions, and easier version of sentences; (3) Combine both Spanish scaffolding and English preview adaptations. Broadly, the structure strategy training implemented in SWELL teaches readers to:
  1. Identify the overall top-level structure of expository text (such as, Comparison/Contrast, Problem-and-Solution, Cause-and-Effect, Sequence, and Description) by identifying signaling words (Meyer, 1975) that are used in text to explicitly cue these structures (such as, “in contrast,” “on the other hand,” and “different,” for the comparison structure).
  2. Write the main idea using patterns for each of the different text structures. For example, for the comparison structure the pattern is: _______ and _______ (2 or more ideas) were compared on ______, ________, and _______ (X number of issues compared).
  3. Organize their memory representation (reading comprehension) and external representation (recall writing) by using the structure and main idea
  4. Transfer their text structure knowledge to texts of varying difficulty (grade 2-6) and apply their skill to compound text structures in multiple domains (science, social studies, language arts).