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Preview: Journal of Educational Psychology - Vol 101, Iss 4

Journal of Educational Psychology - Vol 108, Iss 8

The main purpose of the Journal of Educational Psychology is to publish original, primary psychological research pertaining to education at every educational level, from interventions during early childhood to educational efforts directed at elderly adult

Last Build Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:00:40 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

Close analysis of texts with structure (CATS): An intervention to teach reading comprehension to at-risk second graders.


We developed and evaluated an intervention that teaches reading comprehension via expository text structure training to second graders in urban public schools at risk for academic failure. Fifty lessons on 5 basic text structures (sequence, comparison, causation, description, and problem–solution) were embedded in a social studies curriculum that focused on U.S. historical communities. Second-grade classrooms were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions: the intervention, a comparison program that focused on the social studies content and did not include text structure training, and a no-instruction control. Sixteen classrooms (N = 258) completed the study. The performance of the intervention group was higher than that of the other 2 groups on reading comprehension measures based on written summaries, demonstrating the effectiveness of the intervention. On social studies content measures, the intervention and the content groups showed higher performance than the control group, indicating that embedding the text-structure training did not lessen the amount of social studies content acquired. The study confirms previous findings and extends our earlier work by showing that all 5 basic text structures can be taught to second graders effectively within the academic year. Robust transfer effects were found on typical reading comprehension tasks (sentence completion, questions) when the text continued to be well structured, and there was also evidence of transfer to authentic (ill-structured) text. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The influence of properties of the test and their interactions with reader characteristics on reading comprehension: An explanatory item response study.


Component skills and discourse frameworks of reading have identified characteristics of readers and texts that influence comprehension. However, these 2 frameworks have not previously been integrated in a comprehensive and systematic way to explain performance on any standardized assessment of reading comprehension that is in widespread use across a broad developmental spectrum. The current study undertook such an integration using the reading comprehension subtest of the Gates-McGinitie Reading Tests, investigating characteristics of the test’s reading passages and comprehension questions and the component reading skills of students in middle and high school (n = 1,190) in order to determine the extent to which each of these dimensions affect test performance, both on average and through interaction with one another. The component skills of reading included word reading, reading fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge, and working memory. Test questions were coded for their processing demands, specifically the need to recall information from test and to form text-based inferences, while text passages were measured on word frequency, sentence length, text cohesion, and genre. We found that better vocabulary and background knowledge were the most important reader characteristics in accounting for reading comprehension. The processing demands of test questions were not highly predictive of item difficulty. Rather, genre was the most important passage feature in explaining item difficulty. Reader-test interactions were present, but were not pronounced. We discuss the importance of these findings as they relate to the measurement of comprehension and the integration of component skills and text-discourse models of reading. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The nature of feedback: How peer feedback features affect students’ implementation rate and quality of revisions.


Although feedback is often seen as a critical component of the learning process, many open questions about how specific feedback features contribute to the effectiveness of feedback remain—especially in regards to peer feedback of writing. Nelson and Schunn (2009) identified several important features of peer feedback in their nature of feedback model. In the current study, we test an updated theoretical model that includes a broader set of features and considers not only students’ likelihood of implementing a comment but also the quality of their revisions. To empirically test the updated theoretical model, we analyze over 7,500 comments from 351 reviewers to 189 authors. Each comment was coded for the presence of praise, a problem description, a suggested solution, localization, focus (i.e., low prose, high prose, substance), implementation, and revision quality. To account for the cross-classified nesting of data, we used a 2-level, cross-classified, hierarchical logistic regression model. Only 2 feedback features increased students’ likelihood of implementation (i.e., overall praise and localization), while several feedback features reduced students’ likelihood of implementation (i.e., mitigating praise, solutions, and high-prose comments). Overlapping feedback features affected students’ ability to revise and in opposing directions from their effect on likelihood of implementation: Revisions were less likely to improve the quality of their paper when implementing comments that included a specific location in the text, but they were more likely to improve the quality of their paper when implementing comments that focused on high-prose and substance issues. Implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

When, and for whom, analogies help: The role of spatial skills and interleaved presentation.


Understanding many scientific phenomena, processes, or systems may be especially dependent on a student’s ability to visualize or manipulate spatial information in order to construct mental representations. One instructional technique often included in science texts to help students to understand difficult concepts is the use of concrete or familiar analogies. Two experiments tested whether individual differences in spatial skills may impact the effectiveness of learning by analogy, if an analogy might particularly improve the learning of low-spatial students, and if the way in which the analogical comparison is presented matters. In these studies, students read a text about the processes and causes of the global weather phenomenon known as El Niño. For some students, the text also contained an analogy that compared El Niño to the inflating a deflating of a balloon; this analogy was either presented at the beginning of the text or interleaved throughout the text. Across both experiments, results indicated that spatial skills generally improved learning from a text about El Niño, but that interleaving an analogy changed the relationship between spatial skills and learning, and improved performance for low-spatial learners. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Relational reasoning in word and in figure.


This study investigated the relational reasoning capabilities of older adolescents and young adults when the focal assessment was a verbal and more schooled measure than 1 that was figural and more novel in its configuration. To achieve this end, the verbal test of relational reasoning (vTORR) was constructed to parallel the test of relational reasoning (TORR), which has been shown to be a psychometrically sound measure of the ability to discern analogical, anomalous, antinomous, and antithetical patterns within figural problem sets. Two-hundred undergraduate students completed the vTORR, TORR, and a vocabulary cloze test. The psychometric properties of the vTORR were first examined to ensure that data were reliable and valid. Then, the convergence between the vTORR and TORR was tested, along with the degree to which performance on the vTORR could be explained by linguistic ability, as measured by the vocabulary cloze test. Outcomes of correlational and confirmatory factor analyses indicated that there was a significant moderate association between the ability to reason relationally in word (i.e., vTORR) and in figure (i.e., TORR) and that linguistic ability contributed only a limited amount to performance on the vTORR. Of 3 theoretical models tested, a 4-factor model was found to best fit the vTORR data, indicating that the 4 specific forms of relational reasoning reflected in this measure were directly related to overall performance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Working memory components and problem-solving accuracy: Are there multiple pathways?


This study determined the working memory (WM) components (executive, phonological short-term memory [STM], and visual–spatial sketchpad) that best predicted mathematical word problem-solving accuracy in elementary schoolchildren (N = 392). The battery of tests administered to assess mediators between WM and problem-solving included measures of domain-general knowledge (fluid intelligence, reading, calculation), domain-general processes (naming speed, inhibition), domain-specific knowledge (word-problem representation, planning) and domain-specific processes (estimation and numerical magnitude judgments). Structural equation modeling analyses indicated (a) the executive component of WM and phonological STM yielded significant direct paths to problem-solving accuracy in the fully mediated model; (b) domain general knowledge (reading, calculation), domain-specific knowledge (problem representation, magnitude judgments) and domain general processes (inhibition) uniquely mediated the relationship between components of WM (executive, phonological STM) and problem-solving accuracy; and (c) those processes failing to uniquely mediate the relationship between WM and problem-solving accuracy in the full mediation model were measures of fluid intelligence, planning and estimation. The results support the notion that both the executive and phonological storage components of WM draw upon some of the same resources in predicting problem-solving, but none of the aforementioned mediation variables completely compensated for the influence of these 2 WM components on children’s mathematical word problem-solving. More importantly, the findings suggest there are multiple pathways that mediate the relationship between components of WM performance and problem-solving accuracy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Comparing three models of achievement goals: Goal orientations, goal standards, and goal complexes.


Achievement goal theory (Dweck, 1986) initially characterized mastery goals and performance goals as opposites in a good–bad dualism of student motivation. A later revision (Harackiewicz, Barron, & Elliot, 1998) contended that both goals can provide benefits and be pursued together. Perhaps both frameworks are correct: Their contrasting views may stem from differences in how they define performance goals. The traditional framework favors a goal orientation model in which performance goals entail demonstrating competence (“appearance goals”). The revised framework favors a goal standard model in which performance goals entail outperforming peers (“normative goals”). The present studies test whether the 2 performance goals function differently, each promoting educational outcomes that support its guiding framework’s view of performance goals. These studies also unify the earlier models through the emerging goal complex model, which assumes that the normative goal’s effects depend on students’ reasons for pursuing the goal. University students (Ns = 168 and 160) completed measures of their appearance, normative, and mastery goals; their reasons for pursuing normative goals; and several educational outcomes. When pursued for autonomous reasons (e.g., enjoyment or challenge seeking), normative goals predicted adaptive outcomes (self-efficacy and interest) and also proved more compatible with mastery goals (all ps < .05). However, when pursued for controlling reasons (e.g., rewards), normative goals behaved exactly like appearance goals, each predicting maladaptive outcomes (help avoidance and self-handicapping). These findings help resolve the long-standing debate about performance goals, showcase the goal complex model’s potential as a unifying framework, and unveil multiple new research directions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Teachers’ emotional exhaustion is negatively related to students’ achievement: Evidence from a large-scale assessment study.


Prior research has demonstrated that teachers’ professional knowledge and motivation are strongly related to students’ learning and motivation. Symptoms of teachers’ stress and burnout (e.g., emotional exhaustion) are also thought to influence students’ achievement, but no empirical study has tested this prediction. Using multilevel analyses and a representative sample consisting of 1,102 German elementary school teachers and their students, we addressed this gap in knowledge by examining the association between teachers’ emotional exhaustion and students’ achievement in mathematics, and by testing whether classroom composition moderates this relation. We controlled for teachers’ gender, their years of experience, their teaching certificate, and the composition of the class, and on the student level for students’ gender, language spoken at home, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability. Results revealed that teachers’ emotional exhaustion was significantly negatively related to students’ mathematics achievement, even after teacher characteristics and classroom composition were controlled for. Classroom composition moderated this relation, whereby teachers’ emotional exhaustion was more strongly related to students’ achievement in classes with a high percentage of language minority students. These results highlight the importance of teachers’ well-being for students’ learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)