Examine the efficacy of Visual Syntactic Text Formatting (VSTF) on 7th and 8th-grade students’ reading and writing outcomes.
Mark Warschauer (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Penelope Collins (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
George Farkas (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Jenell Krishnan (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Yenda Prado (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Tamara Tate (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Ying Xu (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Joanna Yau (University of California, Irvine, School of Education)
Project Funding: U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES # R305A150429) $3.5 million award
Project Duration: July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019
In this project, researchers are examining the efficacy of Visual Syntactic Text Formatting (VSTF), a technology for reformatting text to make it easier to understand, on 7th and 8th grade students’ reading and writing outcomes. Students are expected to read and understand progressively more complex texts as they get older, and many of these texts are complex both in their language and their structure. One way to help students better understand the complex text they read is to adjust the text itself; even changing the size or spacing of letters can help students’ reading comprehension. VSTF is an empirically validated text formatting tool that arranges phrases so that it highlights the meaning of the text. Researchers are examining whether reading text in VSTF improves students’ reading and writing as compared to reading text in standard blocks.
VSTF separates phrases and clauses onto short, separate lines. It also uses a cascading pattern and different colors to highlight active verbs. The result is a streamlined column of text that makes reading easier and more efficient. In this project, classrooms of students will be randomly assigned either to read their language arts text in VSTF on an iPad or Chromebook, or to read their language arts text in traditional block format on an iPad or Chromebook. Researchers will also examine whether reading VSTF on an iPad or on a Chromebook makes a difference in how well the intervention works to improve students’ reading and writing outcomes. This project is taking place in Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD). Over 4,000 students in 7th and 8th grade, as well as their 54 teachers participated in this study.
Research Design and Methods Researchers used a randomized control trial to study the efficacy of VSTF on 7th and 8th grade students’ reading and writing outcomes. Students in the VSTF condition received the regular language arts curriculum in VSTF for approximately 50 minutes each week. Students in the control condition used the same curriculum as students in the treatment condition without the formatting.
Key Measures Student measures included scores on the California English Language Smarter Balanced Assessment. Teacher measures included the Teacher Practices inventory and the Measuring Teacher Content Knowledge for Teaching Elementary Rescore Items. The team adapted the Pathway Observation Measure to assess the fidelity and implementation of the intervention.
Data Analytic Strategy Researchers used a variety of statistical techniques including fixed effects regression with clustered standard errors and logistic regression to analyze student outcomes. Qualitative findings were also analyzed and coded.
Visual syntactic text formatting, also referred to by its trademarked name of Live Ink, was developed by Walker Reading Technologies.
Reactions from our pilot teachers
“I like the short phrases and how it looks. It doesn’t look as intimidating as a block form text.”
Information for Teachers and Educators
Video on how Live Ink works
Try Live Ink out!
Publications & Presentations
Tate, T., Collins, P., Xu, Y., Yau, J., Krishnan, J., Prado, Y., Farkas, G., & Warschauer, M. (2019). Visual-Syntactic Text Format: Improving Adolescent Literacy, Scientific Studies of Reading. DOI 10.1080/10888438.2018.156170 (draft link)
Park, Y. (2018). Syntactic enhancement: Bootstrapping for second language reading. Journal of Cognitive Science, 18(4), 473-509.
Park, Y. (2017). The effects of syntactic enhancement for L2 readers with low working memory. Modern English Education, 18(4), 47-66.
Oh, R., Park, Y., & Lee, H. (2016). The effects of syntactically visualized text reading on English reading comprehension of middle school students in Korea. Language Research, 12(52), 581-610.
Warschauer, M., & Park, Y. (2012). Re-envisioning reading in English as a foreign language. JACET-KANTO Journal, 8, 5-13.
Warschauer, M., Park, Y., & Walker, R. (2011). Transforming digital reading with visual- syntactic text formatting. The JALT CALL Journal, 7(3), 255-270.
Works in Process
Krishnan, J., Tate, T., Collins, P., Xu, Y., Yau, J., Prado, Y., Farkas, G., & Warschauer, M., Why a Reading Intervention Principally Benefits Writing: A Study of Visual-Syntactic Text Formatting
Krishnan, J., Schleppegrell, M., Collins, P., & Warschauer, M., Supporting a Language-Focused Approach to Close Reading in Middle School English Language Arts.
Krishnan, J., Googol, N., Collins, P., & Warschauer, M., Proficiency and Production: How Linguistically Diverse Students Write On-Demand Essays.
Yau, J. C., Krishnan, J. A., Xu, Y., Tate, T. P., Farkas, G., Collins, P., & Warschauer, M., Better together: How teacher collaboration supports technology implementation and student learning during a large-scale technology-based literacy intervention.
Better Together: How Teacher Collaboration Supports Implementation and Student Learning During a Large-scale Technology Intervention
Joanna C. Yau; Jenell Krishnan; Ying Xu; Tamara Powell Tate; George Farkas; Penelope Collins; Mark Warschauer
Visual Syntactic Text Formatting: Influences on Teacher Practices, Student Achievement and Student Engagement Penelope Collins; Tamara Powell Tate; Ying Xu; Jenell Krishnan; Yenda Prado; Joanna C. Yau; George Farkas; Mark Warschauer
Promoting Close Reading with Digital Scaffolding in Middle School Jenell Krishnan
Factors Influencing Students’ Preferences for Reading Digitally
Joanna C. Yau; Ying Xu; Yenda Prado; Penelope Collins; Mark Warschauer
Collins, P., Warschauer, M., Farkas, G., Tate, T., Krishnan, J., Yau, J., Xu, Y., & Prado, Y. (2018). Digital scaffolding to support adolescent literacy. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Brighton, UK
Collins, P., Tate, T., Krishnan, J., Xu, Y., Prado, Y., Yau, J., Farkas, G., & Warschauer, M. (2018). Digital scaffolding to support middle school classrooms. Keynote address at the PLIN Conference, Louvain la Neuve, Belgium
Tate, T. (2018). Improving Literacy through Digital Scaffolding. 3rd Annual UCI Postdoctoral Scholar Research Symposium (competitive), September 28, 2018, Irvine, CA.
Krishnan, J. & Prado, Y. (2018, June) “Intentional Instruction: Teachers’ Purposeful Use of Technology for English Language Arts.” Presented at the annual meeting for the International Society for Technology in Education, Chicago, IL.
Prado, Y. Warschauer, M., & Collins, P. (2018, June). Promoting Positive Literacy Attitudes in Struggling Readers with Digital Text Scaffolding. Presented at International Society for Technology in Education, Chicago, IL.
Krishnan, J. & Prado, Y. (2018, April) “From Assistance to Agency: A Study of Digital Scaffolding in the Classroom.” Presented at the annual meeting for the American Education Research Association, New York, NY.
Prado, Y. Warschauer, M., & Collins, P. (2018, April). From Attitudes to Action: Promoting Positive Literacy Beliefs and Practices through Digital Scaffolding. Presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
Xu, Y., Yau, J., Warschauer, M., & Collins, P. (2018, April). Examining the role of teacher efficacy in the implementation of a large-scale technology-based intervention. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York.
Krishnan, J., Tate, T., Yau, J., Xu, Y., Prado, Y. (2018, January). Digital scaffolding for English language arts. Presented at the Institute of English Sciences Annual Principal Investigators’ Meeting, Washington, DC.
Krishnan, J. & Yau, J. (2016, October). Planting roots for a healthy partnership: Responsive professional development for improving reading with digital scaffolding. Presented at the annual meeting for the Digital Media and Learning conference, Irvine, CA.
Prado, Y. (2018, January). Using Visual Syntactic Text Formatting to Promote Equity in Literacy for Children with Exceptional Needs. Work in progress presented at University of California Center for Research on Special Education, Disabilities, and Developmental Risk Annual Conference, Davis, CA.
Park, Y., Warschauer, M. (2014, April). Building up knowledge of language structures in adolescent literacy development. Roundtable discussion presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Park, Y., Collins, P., Warschauer, M., & Oak, M. (2013, July). The effect of Syntactic scaffolding on adolescent literacy development. Paper presented at the 20th annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Hong Kong, China.
Park, Y., & Warschauer, M. (2013, April). The effect of visual-syntactic text formatting on adolescents’ reading competencies. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.
Other VSTF Publications and Presentations
Walker, R. C., Gordon, A. S., Schloss, P., Fletcher, C. R., Vogel, C. A., & Walker, S. (2007, October). Visual-syntactic text formatting: Theoretical basis and empirical evidence for impact on human reading. In Professional Communication Conference, 2007. IPCC 2007. IEEE International (pp. 1-14). IEEE.
Walker, S., Schloss, P., Fletcher, C. R., Vogel, C. A., & Walker, R. C. (2005). Visual-syntactic text formatting: A new method to enhance online reading. Reading Online, 8(6), 1096-1232.
Walker, R.C. & Vogel, C. (2005, June). Live Ink: Brain-based text formatting raises standardized test scores. Paper presented at the National Educational Computing Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
We are in the process of preparing the dataset for public, restricted access. Details will be posted once the dataset is available for use by researchers working under an active IRB approval.
For more information, please contact: Mark Warschauer at firstname.lastname@example.org