A study published in The Curriculum Journal presents the findings of a randomised controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of the Bug Club programme on the reading, spelling and vocabulary skills of pupils in the first two years of primary school compared to pupils in a control group.
Bug Club is a whole-school reading programme based on the
principles of guided reading and synthetic phonics. It is offered as part of,
rather than in addition to, standard literacy lessons. This study analysed data
from 1,273 pupils in Years 1 and 2 from 30 schools in the UK (15 intervention,
15 control). Pupils were tested at baseline and again at 6 months, 12 months,
and 18 months, using the InCAS reading assessment for 5- to 11-year-olds.
At the 6- and 12-month tests, pupils in the Bug Club schools showed
more progress on the standardised reading measure than pupils in control
schools (effect size = +0.18 and +0.16). For disadvantaged pupils, the picture
was mixed. After six months, there was a greater impact on reading gains in
schools with high levels of pupils eligible for free school meals than those in
control schools. After twelve months, this effect had disappeared, but pupils
eligible for pupil premium were found to have improved more on reading gains
than those in control schools.
of Bug Club: a randomised control trial of a whole school primary aged reading
programme (February 2020), The Curriculum
Journal. DOI: 10.1002/curj.29
A study published in the American Educational Research Journal compares reading processes and outcomes for pupils when reading a text from paper with the same text delivered on a touchscreen laptop.
Amanda P Goodwin and colleagues conducted the study with 371
pupils in grades 5–8 (Years 6–9) from three schools in an urban district in the
southeastern US. Pupils were randomly assigned to two conditions: Condition A
read the first section of a text on paper, and the second half digitally,
whereas pupils in Condition B read the first part digitally and the second part
on paper. The content in both conditions was identical. When reading on paper, pupils
had access to highlighters, pens and sticky notes; when reading digitally, they
had access to digital highlighters, annotating and dictionaries.
Results suggest that pupils highlight and annotate more when reading on paper vs. digital text. Also, reading on paper vs. digitally was slightly supportive of reading comprehension for the longer sections of text, although effect sizes were very small (odds ratio of 1.077).
Source: Digital versus
paper reading processes and links to comprehension for middle school students (December
209), American Educational Research
A study published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness reports on the impact of Word Generation on academic language, vocabulary and reading comprehension outcomes for pupils in grades 4 to 7 (Years 5 to 8).
Word Generation (WG) is a vocabulary programme designed to
teach academic vocabulary words through English, maths, science and social
studies classroom activities. For this study, 7,725 fourth to seventh grade pupils
from 25 schools in the northeast US were randomised within pairs to either
treatment or business-as-usual control conditions. In treatment schools, the
programme was implemented throughout the school year. In grades 4 and 5 (Years
5 and 6), this involved 12 ten-day long units of 45-50 minutes per day. For
grades 6 and 7 (Years 7 and 8), the programme was implemented in six-week long
units designed to take 45 minutes each day in science and social studies
At the end of the first year, pupils in grades 4 and 5 also
made improvements on their academic language skills (ES = +0.06), and in their
reading comprehension at the end of the second year (ES = +0.15). Reading
comprehension also improved at the end of the second year for pupils in grades
6 and 7 (ES = +0.10).
The study also showed gains on tests of the specific words
emphasised in the programme, but these effects are considered potentially
Experimental effects of Word Generation on vocabulary, academic language,
perspective taking and reading comprehension in high-poverty schools (August
2019), Journal of Research on Educational
Kristin Rogde and colleagues from the Campbell Collaboration have completed a systematic review that examines the effects of linguistic comprehension teaching on generalised measures of language and reading comprehension skills. Examples of linguistic comprehension skills include vocabulary, grammar and narrative skills.
The authors searched literature dating back to 1986, and
identified 43 studies to include in the review, including samples of both
pre-school and school-aged participants. Randomised controlled trials and
quasi-experiments with a control group and a pre-post design were included.
Key findings of the review were as follows:
The linguistic comprehension programmes
included in the review display a small positive immediate effect on generalised
outcomes of linguistic comprehension.
The effect of the programmes on generalised
measures of reading comprehension is negligible.
Few studies report follow-up assessment of
According to the authors, linguistic comprehension teaching has
the potential to increase children’s general linguistic comprehension skills.
However, there is variability in effects related to the type of outcome measure
that is used to examine the effect of such instruction on linguistic
effect of linguistic comprehension instruction on generalized language and
reading comprehension skills: A systematic review (November 2019), Campbell Systematic Reviews
This meta-analysis, published in Educational Research Review, explores whether shared reading interventions are equally effective across a range of study designs, across a range of different outcome variables, and for children from different socioeconomic status (SES) groups.
Studies were included in the meta-analysis if they met the
Must contain a universal and/or targeted shared
book reading intervention.
Must include at least one control group.
Participants must be typically developing
children ages seven years or younger.
Must not target multilingual populations and/or
the acquisition of an additional language.
Must isolate the variable of interest (shared
Must report on objective quantitative measure of
Must provide sufficient data to calculate the
The results suggest that shared reading had an overall effect size of +0.19 on children’s language development. They also show that this effect was moderated by the type of control group used and was near zero in studies with active control groups (ES = +0.03). The meta-analysis also shows no differences across outcome variables or for SES.
impact of shared book reading on children’s language skills: A meta-analysis (September
2019), Educational Research Review, Volume
A study published in Oxford Review of Education evaluates the effects of TutorBright tutoring on the reading and maths skills of children in family foster care. TutorBright uses one-to-one, at-home tutoring with detailed instructor’s manuals and customised pupil workbooks. Children receive two one-hour tutoring sessions per week, on designated days of the week, for up to 50 hours of tutoring. Children in the waiting list control group were asked to continue with their schooling as usual and not seek additional tutoring or academic support during the school year, and were then offered the tutoring intervention at the end of the school year. TutorBright tutors all had experience with teaching or mentoring, and an undergraduate or master’s degree (completed or in progress).
For the randomised controlled trial, conducted by Andrea J
Hickey and Robert J Flynn, child welfare workers nominated foster care children
in Ontario, Canada, who met the following criteria: enrolled in grades 1–11 (Years
2–12), fluent in English, currently living in a foster-family setting, and
judged likely to remain in care for the duration of the study. Thirty-four
children were randomly assigned to tutoring, and 36 to a waiting-list control
The results suggest that the tutored children made greater
gains than those in the control group in reading fluency (effect size = +0.16),
reading comprehension (ES = +0.34) and maths calculation (ES = +0.39).
of the TutorBright tutoring programme on the reading and mathematics skills of
children in foster care: a randomised controlled trial (July 2019), Oxford Review of Education, 45:4