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NSF Grant to Improve Literacy Education Technology

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NSF Grant to Improve Literacy Education Technology

CTELL team (l to r): GIllian Andrews, Research Assistant; Dana Cammack, Project Manager; Lara Tilmanis, Research Assistant; Sarah Lohnes, Research Assistant; and Chuck Kinzer, Principal Investigator.

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Literacy education has not yet fully utilized modern technology, says Chuck Kinzer, Professor of Education and a co-principal investigator of the Case Technologies to Enhance Literacy Learning (CTELL) project.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $5.6 million dollar grant for CTELL. Four universities in CTELL collaborate to target pre-service education in literacy classrooms using technology and Web-delivered instruction to enhance young children's reading achievement by improving teacher education.

CTELL is an innovative approach for pre-service teacher education providing high quality teacher education built upon the "best practices" of teaching reading and writing effectively. The program is a "merge of cognitive principles in anchored instruction with case-based learning," according to Kinzer, and is "delivered on the Web so students can work in their dorm room, in computer labs, or anywhere there is a high speed internet connection, to learn in a situated environment." CTELL is designed to bring together teachers, students, researchers and instructional technology designers from four universities including Teachers College, University of Georgia, University of Connecticut, and the University of Illinois as well as a consortium of 70 southeast literacy practitioners over six years. The goal of the project, said Kinzer, is to increase reading achievement in young children by "linking children's reading achievement to the effectiveness of case-based instruction."

Most research assessing the effectiveness of reading achievement examines the role of print-based learning environments and is limited in scope. In contrast, Kinzer and his co-investigators are collaborating in scope and on a scale which has been rare in education.

Researchers and teacher practitioners supported by the four universities will collaborate with over 600 teachers and 6,000 children all over the country to introduce and test case-based on-line literacy learning.

Although case-based instruction has been used effectively in business and law, pre-service instruction requires a different model of teaching. Case-based learning in education seeks to teach instructional principles by using real world examples.

Using a case-based data analysis tool like CTELL provides pre-service teachers an opportunity to analyze literacy teaching. The tool incorporates a range of multimedia including classroom video of instructional activities, interviews with parents, reading experts, teachers in the school's community, examples of student work, and a portfolio section to which pre-service teachers can contribute their ideas regarding instructional principles.

Preliminary results are promising and participants of CTELL are excited to scale up the program at a national level. Kinzer and the other principal investigators are working hard to meet three objectives of their project: "We are trying to put together an instructional system that might influence national pre-service education, provide research results that will document the effectiveness of case-based instruction in a web-based environment, and examine how reading achievement is influenced by different teacher training programs." If Kinzer and other members of his group are successful, CTELL may be used to teach pre-service teachers about the complexities of literacy instruction resulting in improved literacy instruction raising children's reading achievement scores.

For further information about CTELL's mission, goals, sample cases, and news visit: ctell.uconn.edu.

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