Motivating Struggling Readers to Mentally “Show Up” with Wonder Stories

Abstract (in English): 

In the United States, a student in the 20th percentile reads books for 0.7 minutes per day, while a student in the 98th percentile reads 65 minutes per day (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998). For the last four years, with 300 children from Title 1 schools and the Boys & Girls Club, we researched how to create digital texts that better cognitively engage struggling readers using psychophysiological sensors, eye tracking, and co-creation. This research led to the creation of Wonder Stories. Wonder Stories’ texts motivate students to critically think by immersing students in frequent, story-based questions. As a response to children’s low motivations during COVID19, we added a social competition to Wonder Stories – answering questions correctly gave points in a trivia-like game. When struggling readers were given Wonder Stories, students mentally showed up: their participation increased, readers were more cognitively engaged with the material, and students were critically thinking about the text more often. This study suggests that interactive, question-based reading shows great promise to increasing children’s participation and engagement in middle-grade reading.

(Source: The work's own abstract)

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Lene Tøftestuen