Learning Strategies Curriculum: Commas Strategies Program
Study: Schumaker, Walsh, & Deshler (2019)

Summary

The interactive multimedia Commas Strategies Program (Schumaker & Sheldon, 2008) is designed for the individual instruction of students at their computers. It contains seven major components: an introduction and six commas lessons. Each lesson focuses on one comma rule. These rules represent the key comma rules emphasized in state and national English Language Arts standards. Following the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth comma lesson is a cumulative review lesson, which helps students to integrate what they have learned thus far in the program. The program is structured such that students must respond frequently and correctly to practice activities in order to progress to the next screen. The program requires students to meet mastery on one skill before progressing to the next skill. Activities are sequenced from easy to more and more difficult. Each screen contains text and animated visual devices, and a narrator speaks to the learner throughout the program. The classroom teacher’s role is to monitor students’ appropriate use of their computers and to provide positive and corrective feedback when students write sentences at the end of each lesson. There are a total of 11 lessons in the program: six commas lessons and five review lessons. Each lesson has four segments. “Learn It” segment. Within each lesson is a segment called “Learn It.” This segment contains a sequence of animated visual displays and auditory explanations of the targeted rule and the associated strategies for applying that rule. Learn It activities cycle through listening to an explanation, watching an animated demonstration depicting a sentence on the screen, and mini-practice activities where students have to respond to three items to show that they understand what they have heard and seen. For example, in the lesson on using a comma to separate an introductory word, clause, or phrase from the rest of the sentence (Rule #1: “Commas like to introduce”), students hear an explanation of one of the ways sentences might be introduced (e.g., with a single transition word), they see an animated demonstration of how to place a comma after the transition word, and then they have to respond to three sentences where they need to insert a comma in the correct location after an introductory word. A comma can potentially be placed after every word in the sentence; the student merely has to click on the chosen space. The computer program provides positive or corrective feedback related to the accuracy of students’ answers. When students provide an incorrect answer, they receive computer feedback that the answer is not correct and another chance to respond to the same item correctly. When they have responded to an item correctly, the computer program provides congratulations and progresses to the next item or to the next segment of the program. After completing the three practice sentences correctly, the students then hear an explanation of another way that a sentence can be introduced (e.g., with a phrase), they see an animated demonstration of how to place a comma after a phrase, and they have to respond to three sentences where they need to insert a comma after a phrase, and so forth. As new concepts (e.g., “phrase,” “adjective clause,” “dependent clause”) are introduced, they are defined and explained, and several examples are displayed. The lesson continues in a similar way until all types of sentence introductions have been taught. Students can have each sentence in the practice activities read aloud if they click on the “Hear It” button on each screen. Besides the basic explanations and practice activities during each Learn It segment, students are taught cognitive strategies that they can use to help them remember and apply the targeted rule. For example, when they are taught about Rule #1: Commas like to introduce, they are taught to look at the beginning of a sentence for a “TAAPS Word.” “TAAPS” is a mnemonic device that stands for “Transition words, Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, and Subordinating conjunctions.” They are also taught mnemonic devices for remembering these words. For example, to learn the prepositions, they are shown a picture of a bee flying near a bottle. They learn all the ways they can talk about the bee’s activities, such as “The bee flies IN the bottle,” “The bee flies AROUND the bottle,” and “The bee flies OVER the bottle” to remember the prepositions. Thus, each comma lesson might have several memory tools associated with it. Additionally, the whole program has a poem for remembering all of the rules. “Watch It” segment. During the second segment of a lesson, “Watch It,” students watch and listen to several brief video clips of student actors using the strategies to apply the rule covered in the “Learn It” segment. Each variation of strategy use is demonstrated as well as instances when the rule should not be applied. Throughout each demonstration, the student actor thinks aloud to show students how to think while using the pertinent strategy (e.g., set of steps, mnemonic device) to construct and edit a sentence. “Say It” segment. The next lesson segment, “Say It,” includes computerized verbal practice activities that help the student learn the strategies associated with the targeted rule. At the beginning of each Say It activity, liberal prompts are given. Computer prompts are gradually faded out until students are naming the information and strategies on their own. When students have completed all the activities in the “Say It” section, they can choose to take a quiz in written or oral form or redo the section. The quiz is to be scored by instructor. If the student earns a score of 100% correct, the student receives a passcode to continue to the next segment of the lesson. If the student does not reach mastery, the student is instructed to redo the “Say It” section of the lesson. The quiz can be taken as many times as needed for the student to reach mastery. “Practice It” segment. The fourth segment of each lesson is called “Practice It.” It contains three levels of computerized practice activities. In Levels 1 and 2 practice sets, students work with sentences that have already been written to edit the sentences for missing commas. In Level 1, they have to add at least one comma to each of five sentences which appears on the screen by itself. In Level 2, only some of the five sentences require commas, so students have to discriminate when the rule is applicable and when it is not. A “Hear It” button is present on each computer screen on which the student can click to have the sentence read aloud by the narrator. Specific feedback is given to students by the computer program on both correct and incorrect practice attempts in Levels 1 and 2. When the student reaches mastery on each of these levels (100% correct on two consecutive sets of five sentences each), the software program progresses to the Level 3 practice activities where the student is asked to construct (write) five sentences applying the comma rule being taught. An example computer prompt for one sentence applying Rule #1: “Commas like to introduce,” is “Write a complete sentence that begins with a dependent clause and the subordinating conjunction ‘Whenever’.” In response to this prompt, the student is required to construct a complete complex sentence starting with a dependent clause that includes a comma in the required spot (i.e., between the dependent clause and the independent clause). Thus, in order to respond correctly to the prompt, the student needs to understand the terms, know how to write a complete sentence that corresponds to those terms, and place one or more commas correctly. In the review lessons, for the Level 4 practice sets, students have to integrate the use of two or more rules, depending on how many rules they have learned, in order to insert commas into five written sentences. In the Level 5 practice sets, students are given computer prompts to construct certain types of sentences and/or include certain words. Each sentence has to depict one of the rules they have learned. In Levels 3 and 5, students can choose to type their sentences into the computer program and print them out, or they can print out a worksheet on which they can write the sentences using a pencil or pen. They can also choose to dictate their sentences to another student or an aide. Students then take their final written products to the instructor for scoring and feedback. Feedback from consists of positive and corrective feedback aimed at helping the student attain mastery. Students cycle through additional practice sets and received additional feedback until they reached mastery on writing sentences containing the comma rule(s) being learned. Students are required to complete two consecutive Level 1, Level 2, and Level 4 practice sets at 100% correct before being allowed by the computer to progress to the next activity in the program. Thus, the lowest number of practice sets that a student can complete at each of these three levels is 2. They are only required to complete one practice set at 100% correct on Levels 3 and 5 before being given a passcode to progress to the next lesson. Thus, the lowest number of practice sets that a student can complete at each of these two levels is 1. Review Lessons. With regard to the Review Lessons, they have the same segments as the Comma Lessons (i.e., Learn It, Watch It, Say It, and Practice It). Each Comma Lesson focuses on the use of only one rule and its associated strategies. In contrast, each Review Lesson focuses on the integrated use of the rules and strategies that the student has learned. Thus, in Level 4 practice activities, when students see a sentence on the screen, they must first decide whether it needs commas and then where to place them in the sentence. In Level 5 practice activities, they must construct sentences related to more than one rule. Through the spiraling sequence of the lessons and reviews, the program builds so that students cumulatively learn about and practice all the rules and strategies in combination.

Target Grades:
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Target Populations:
  • Students with learning disabilities
  • Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
  • English language learners
  • Any student at risk for academic failure
  • Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
  • Other: Any students having difficulty writing a variety of complete sentences containing commas.
Area(s) of Focus:
  • Sentence construction
  • Other: Specifically, sentence construction of sentences that require the use of commas.
Where to Obtain:
Edge Enterprises, Inc. (publisher); Jean B. Schumaker & Jan B. Sheldon (authors & developers)
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
785-749-1473; FAX: 785-749-1473
www.edgeenterprisesinc.com
Initial Cost:
$30.00 per per computer on which the program is downloaded
Replacement Cost:
$30.00 per per computer on which the program is downloaded per N/A

Once the program is downloaded onto a computer, it can be used by many students individually. The program is distributed on a compact disc ($30) or flash drive ($36). An instructor's guide and all materials needed for the program are included on the disc or drive. A computer that runs interactive programs is required (e.g., Mac OS10.X or Windows 95 or later). It needs a 16-bit color display or higher plus sound capability. It is a stand-alone program which does not require Internet access.

Staff Qualified to Administer Include:
  • Special Education Teacher
  • General Education Teacher
  • Reading Specialist
  • EL Specialist
  • Interventionist
Training Requirements:
Training not required

We highly recommend that the instructor read the instructor's manual and work through the computerized program (as a student might) from start to finish in order to learn the content of the program, understand the structure of the program, and be able to give the students positive and corrective feedback when they write their sentences. . The instructor can teach him/herself by reading the manual and working through the program him/herself.


The training materials (Powerpoint presentation, activities, and handouts) have been tested by the International Network of certified professional developers associated with Edge Enterprises, Inc. and the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. These individuals provided feedback about changes needed and those changes were made as required.

Access to Technical Support:
Yes, training and support can be obtained through the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with Edge Enterprises and with the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.
Recommended Administration Formats Include:
  • Individual students
Minimum Number of Minutes Per Session:
45
Minimum Number of Sessions Per Week:
5
Minimum Number of Weeks:
Detailed Implementation Manual or Instructions Available:
Yes
Is Technology Required?
  • Computer or tablet

Program Information

Descriptive Information

Please provide a description of program, including intended use:

The interactive multimedia Commas Strategies Program (Schumaker & Sheldon, 2008) is designed for the individual instruction of students at their computers. It contains seven major components: an introduction and six commas lessons. Each lesson focuses on one comma rule. These rules represent the key comma rules emphasized in state and national English Language Arts standards. Following the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth comma lesson is a cumulative review lesson, which helps students to integrate what they have learned thus far in the program. The program is structured such that students must respond frequently and correctly to practice activities in order to progress to the next screen. The program requires students to meet mastery on one skill before progressing to the next skill. Activities are sequenced from easy to more and more difficult. Each screen contains text and animated visual devices, and a narrator speaks to the learner throughout the program. The classroom teacher’s role is to monitor students’ appropriate use of their computers and to provide positive and corrective feedback when students write sentences at the end of each lesson. There are a total of 11 lessons in the program: six commas lessons and five review lessons. Each lesson has four segments. “Learn It” segment. Within each lesson is a segment called “Learn It.” This segment contains a sequence of animated visual displays and auditory explanations of the targeted rule and the associated strategies for applying that rule. Learn It activities cycle through listening to an explanation, watching an animated demonstration depicting a sentence on the screen, and mini-practice activities where students have to respond to three items to show that they understand what they have heard and seen. For example, in the lesson on using a comma to separate an introductory word, clause, or phrase from the rest of the sentence (Rule #1: “Commas like to introduce”), students hear an explanation of one of the ways sentences might be introduced (e.g., with a single transition word), they see an animated demonstration of how to place a comma after the transition word, and then they have to respond to three sentences where they need to insert a comma in the correct location after an introductory word. A comma can potentially be placed after every word in the sentence; the student merely has to click on the chosen space. The computer program provides positive or corrective feedback related to the accuracy of students’ answers. When students provide an incorrect answer, they receive computer feedback that the answer is not correct and another chance to respond to the same item correctly. When they have responded to an item correctly, the computer program provides congratulations and progresses to the next item or to the next segment of the program. After completing the three practice sentences correctly, the students then hear an explanation of another way that a sentence can be introduced (e.g., with a phrase), they see an animated demonstration of how to place a comma after a phrase, and they have to respond to three sentences where they need to insert a comma after a phrase, and so forth. As new concepts (e.g., “phrase,” “adjective clause,” “dependent clause”) are introduced, they are defined and explained, and several examples are displayed. The lesson continues in a similar way until all types of sentence introductions have been taught. Students can have each sentence in the practice activities read aloud if they click on the “Hear It” button on each screen. Besides the basic explanations and practice activities during each Learn It segment, students are taught cognitive strategies that they can use to help them remember and apply the targeted rule. For example, when they are taught about Rule #1: Commas like to introduce, they are taught to look at the beginning of a sentence for a “TAAPS Word.” “TAAPS” is a mnemonic device that stands for “Transition words, Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, and Subordinating conjunctions.” They are also taught mnemonic devices for remembering these words. For example, to learn the prepositions, they are shown a picture of a bee flying near a bottle. They learn all the ways they can talk about the bee’s activities, such as “The bee flies IN the bottle,” “The bee flies AROUND the bottle,” and “The bee flies OVER the bottle” to remember the prepositions. Thus, each comma lesson might have several memory tools associated with it. Additionally, the whole program has a poem for remembering all of the rules. “Watch It” segment. During the second segment of a lesson, “Watch It,” students watch and listen to several brief video clips of student actors using the strategies to apply the rule covered in the “Learn It” segment. Each variation of strategy use is demonstrated as well as instances when the rule should not be applied. Throughout each demonstration, the student actor thinks aloud to show students how to think while using the pertinent strategy (e.g., set of steps, mnemonic device) to construct and edit a sentence. “Say It” segment. The next lesson segment, “Say It,” includes computerized verbal practice activities that help the student learn the strategies associated with the targeted rule. At the beginning of each Say It activity, liberal prompts are given. Computer prompts are gradually faded out until students are naming the information and strategies on their own. When students have completed all the activities in the “Say It” section, they can choose to take a quiz in written or oral form or redo the section. The quiz is to be scored by instructor. If the student earns a score of 100% correct, the student receives a passcode to continue to the next segment of the lesson. If the student does not reach mastery, the student is instructed to redo the “Say It” section of the lesson. The quiz can be taken as many times as needed for the student to reach mastery. “Practice It” segment. The fourth segment of each lesson is called “Practice It.” It contains three levels of computerized practice activities. In Levels 1 and 2 practice sets, students work with sentences that have already been written to edit the sentences for missing commas. In Level 1, they have to add at least one comma to each of five sentences which appears on the screen by itself. In Level 2, only some of the five sentences require commas, so students have to discriminate when the rule is applicable and when it is not. A “Hear It” button is present on each computer screen on which the student can click to have the sentence read aloud by the narrator. Specific feedback is given to students by the computer program on both correct and incorrect practice attempts in Levels 1 and 2. When the student reaches mastery on each of these levels (100% correct on two consecutive sets of five sentences each), the software program progresses to the Level 3 practice activities where the student is asked to construct (write) five sentences applying the comma rule being taught. An example computer prompt for one sentence applying Rule #1: “Commas like to introduce,” is “Write a complete sentence that begins with a dependent clause and the subordinating conjunction ‘Whenever’.” In response to this prompt, the student is required to construct a complete complex sentence starting with a dependent clause that includes a comma in the required spot (i.e., between the dependent clause and the independent clause). Thus, in order to respond correctly to the prompt, the student needs to understand the terms, know how to write a complete sentence that corresponds to those terms, and place one or more commas correctly. In the review lessons, for the Level 4 practice sets, students have to integrate the use of two or more rules, depending on how many rules they have learned, in order to insert commas into five written sentences. In the Level 5 practice sets, students are given computer prompts to construct certain types of sentences and/or include certain words. Each sentence has to depict one of the rules they have learned. In Levels 3 and 5, students can choose to type their sentences into the computer program and print them out, or they can print out a worksheet on which they can write the sentences using a pencil or pen. They can also choose to dictate their sentences to another student or an aide. Students then take their final written products to the instructor for scoring and feedback. Feedback from consists of positive and corrective feedback aimed at helping the student attain mastery. Students cycle through additional practice sets and received additional feedback until they reached mastery on writing sentences containing the comma rule(s) being learned. Students are required to complete two consecutive Level 1, Level 2, and Level 4 practice sets at 100% correct before being allowed by the computer to progress to the next activity in the program. Thus, the lowest number of practice sets that a student can complete at each of these three levels is 2. They are only required to complete one practice set at 100% correct on Levels 3 and 5 before being given a passcode to progress to the next lesson. Thus, the lowest number of practice sets that a student can complete at each of these two levels is 1. Review Lessons. With regard to the Review Lessons, they have the same segments as the Comma Lessons (i.e., Learn It, Watch It, Say It, and Practice It). Each Comma Lesson focuses on the use of only one rule and its associated strategies. In contrast, each Review Lesson focuses on the integrated use of the rules and strategies that the student has learned. Thus, in Level 4 practice activities, when students see a sentence on the screen, they must first decide whether it needs commas and then where to place them in the sentence. In Level 5 practice activities, they must construct sentences related to more than one rule. Through the spiraling sequence of the lessons and reviews, the program builds so that students cumulatively learn about and practice all the rules and strategies in combination.

The program is intended for use in the following age(s) and/or grade(s).

not selected Age 0-3
not selected Age 3-5
not selected Kindergarten
not selected First grade
not selected Second grade
not selected Third grade
not selected Fourth grade
selected Fifth grade
selected Sixth grade
selected Seventh grade
selected Eighth grade
selected Ninth grade
selected Tenth grade
selected Eleventh grade
selected Twelth grade


The program is intended for use with the following groups.

not selected Students with disabilities only
selected Students with learning disabilities
not selected Students with intellectual disabilities
selected Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
selected English language learners
selected Any student at risk for academic failure
selected Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
selected Other
If other, please describe:
Any students having difficulty writing a variety of complete sentences containing commas.

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: Please indicate the academic area of focus.

Early Literacy

not selected Print knowledge/awareness
not selected Alphabet knowledge
not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonological awarenessEarly writing
not selected Early decoding abilities
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Language

not selected Expressive and receptive vocabulary
not selected Grammar
not selected Syntax
not selected Listening comprehension
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Reading

not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonics/word study
not selected Comprehension
not selected Fluency
not selected Vocabulary
not selected Spelling
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Mathematics

not selected Computation
not selected Concepts and/or word problems
not selected Whole number arithmetic
not selected Comprehensive: Includes computation/procedures, problem solving, and mathematical concepts
not selected Algebra
not selected Fractions, decimals (rational number)
not selected Geometry and measurement
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Writing

not selected Handwriting
not selected Spelling
selected Sentence construction
not selected Planning and revising
selected Other
If other, please describe:
Specifically, sentence construction of sentences that require the use of commas.

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Please indicate the behavior area of focus.

Externalizing Behavior

not selected Physical Aggression
not selected Verbal Threats
not selected Property Destruction
not selected Noncompliance
not selected High Levels of Disengagement
not selected Disruptive Behavior
not selected Social Behavior (e.g., Peer interactions, Adult interactions)
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Internalizing Behavior

not selected Depression
not selected Anxiety
not selected Social Difficulties (e.g., withdrawal)
not selected School Phobia
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Acquisition and cost information

Where to obtain:

Address
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
Phone Number
785-749-1473; FAX: 785-749-1473
Website
www.edgeenterprisesinc.com

Initial cost for implementing program:

Cost
$30.00
Unit of cost
per computer on which the program is downloaded

Replacement cost per unit for subsequent use:

Cost
$30.00
Unit of cost
per computer on which the program is downloaded
Duration of license
N/A

Additional cost information:

Describe basic pricing plan and structure of the program. Also, provide information on what is included in the published program, as well as what is not included but required for implementation (e.g., computer and/or internet access)

Once the program is downloaded onto a computer, it can be used by many students individually. The program is distributed on a compact disc ($30) or flash drive ($36). An instructor's guide and all materials needed for the program are included on the disc or drive. A computer that runs interactive programs is required (e.g., Mac OS10.X or Windows 95 or later). It needs a 16-bit color display or higher plus sound capability. It is a stand-alone program which does not require Internet access.

Program Specifications

Setting for which the program is designed.

selected Individual students
not selected Small group of students
not selected BI ONLY: A classroom of students

If group-delivered, how many students compose a small group?

  

Program administration time

Minimum number of minutes per session
45
Minimum number of sessions per week
5
Minimum number of weeks
selected N/A (implemented until effective)

If intervention program is intended to occur over less frequently than 60 minutes a week for approximately 8 weeks, justify the level of intensity:
Students can work through the program in a total of an average of 8 hours of instructional time. They can exit the program at any time and reenter the program at the same point on the next instructional day. We recommend that students work on the program daily until they complete it, but this is not required.

Does the program include highly specified teacher manuals or step by step instructions for implementation?
Yes

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Is the program affiliated with a broad school- or class-wide management program?

If yes, please identify and describe the broader school- or class-wide management program:

Does the program require technology?
Yes

If yes, what technology is required to implement your program?
selected Computer or tablet
not selected Internet connection
not selected Other technology (please specify)

If your program requires additional technology not listed above, please describe the required technology and the extent to which it is combined with teacher small-group instruction/intervention:
The program is distributed on a compact disc ($30) or flash drive ($36). An instructor's guide and all materials needed for the program are included on the disc or drive. A computer that runs interactive programs is required (e.g., Mac OS10.X or Windows 95 or later). It needs a 16-bit color display or higher plus sound capability. It is a stand-alone program which does not require Internet access.

Training

How many people are needed to implement the program ?
1

Is training for the instructor or interventionist required?
No
If yes, is the necessary training free or at-cost?
At-cost

Describe the time required for instructor or interventionist training:
No training time is required.

Describe the format and content of the instructor or interventionist training:
We highly recommend that the instructor read the instructor's manual and work through the computerized program (as a student might) from start to finish in order to learn the content of the program, understand the structure of the program, and be able to give the students positive and corrective feedback when they write their sentences. . The instructor can teach him/herself by reading the manual and working through the program him/herself.

What types or professionals are qualified to administer your program?

selected Special Education Teacher
selected General Education Teacher
selected Reading Specialist
not selected Math Specialist
selected EL Specialist
selected Interventionist
not selected Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
not selected Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
not selected Paraprofessional
selected Other

If other, please describe:

Anyone willing to work through the program to learn the commas rules, understand the structure of the program, and learn what their role is in monitoring the students' work and providing feedback to the students about their written sentences
Does the program assume that the instructor or interventionist has expertise in a given area?
No   

If yes, please describe: 


Are training manuals and materials available?
Yes

Describe how the training manuals or materials were field-tested with the target population of instructors or interventionist and students:
The training materials (Powerpoint presentation, activities, and handouts) have been tested by the International Network of certified professional developers associated with Edge Enterprises, Inc. and the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. These individuals provided feedback about changes needed and those changes were made as required.

Do you provide fidelity of implementation guidance such as a checklist for implementation in your manual?
Yes

Can practitioners obtain ongoing professional and technical support?
Yes

If yes, please specify where/how practitioners can obtain support:

Yes, training and support can be obtained through the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with Edge Enterprises and with the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.

Summary of Evidence Base

Please identify, to the best of your knowledge, all the research studies that have been conducted to date supporting the efficacy of your program, including studies currently or previously submitted to NCII for review. Please provide citations only (in APA format); do not include any descriptive information on these studies. NCII staff will also conduct a search to confirm that the list you provide is accurate.

Schumaker, J. B., Walsh, L. D., & Fisher, J. B. (2019). Effects of computerized instruction on mastery and generalized use of commas strategies by

          students with LD. Journal of Special Education Technology, 1-15. https://doi.org/ 10.1177/0162643419878146. 

Study Information

Study Citations

Shumaker, J. B., Walsh, L. D. & Deshler, D. D. (2019). Effects of Computerized Instruction on Mastery and Generalized Use of Commas Strategies by Students with LD. Journal of Special Education Technology, () 1-15.

Participants Full Bobble

Describe how students were selected to participate in the study:
Eighty-two middle-school students with LD were recruited, and their parents signed written informed consent forms. In addition, 42 high-school students with LD were recruited, and their parents signed written informed consent forms. All of the students were recruited by a researcher who attended their class and explained the study. Interested students took the consent form home for their parents to sign. In addition, two English Language Arts general education classes at the middle school (n=51) and the high school (n=50) levels participated as a validation sample. The school administrators allowed these students to take the two forms of one of the tests to show the equivalence of the forms. They did not allow any personal data to be collected on these students. These students' results were also used in a comparison to show how the experimental LD students' performance compared to other students in their schools.

Describe how students were identified as being at risk for academic failure (AI) or as having emotional or behavioral difficulties (BI):
All of the students in the experimental and control groups had been formally classified as having learning disabilities using the IQ/discrepancy method as applied according to guidelines in the states of Kansas and Missouri. All of them were receiving special education services for writing deficits.

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • below the 30th percentile on local or national norm, or
  • identified disability related to the focus of the intervention?
100.0%

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • emotional disability label,
  • placed in an alternative school/classroom,
  • non-responsive to Tiers 1 and 2, or
  • designation of severe problem behaviors on a validated scale or through observation?
%

Specify which condition is the submitted intervention:
The Commas Strategies Program was implemented with students randomly selected for the experimental condition.

Specify which condition is the control condition:
Students randomly selected for the control condition received multimedia instruction in the Test Taking Strategy and the Self-Advocacy Strategy. Neither of these programs involve the instruction of writing skills. The control students worked independently of the experimental students on separate computers.

If you have a third, competing condition, in addition to your control and intervention condition, identify what the competing condition is (data from this competing condition will not be used):
N/A

Using the tables that follow, provide data demonstrating comparability of the program group and control group in terms of demographics.

Grade Level

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Age less than 1
Age 1
Age 2
Age 3
Age 4
Age 5
Kindergarten
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8
Grade 9
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12

Race–Ethnicity

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
African American 15.9 % 9.8 % 0.33
American Indian
Asian/Pacific Islander
Hispanic 7.9 % 6.6 % 0.09
White 63.5 % 65.6 % 0.08
Other 12.7 % 18.0 % 0.23

Socioeconomic Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Subsidized Lunch 33.3 % 32.8 % 0.00
No Subsidized Lunch 66.7 % 67.2 % 0.00

Disability Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Speech-Language Impairments
Learning Disabilities 100.0 % 100.0 % 0.00
Behavior Disorders
Emotional Disturbance
Intellectual Disabilities
Other
Not Identified With a Disability

ELL Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
English Language Learner
Not English Language Learner 100.0 % 100.0 % 0.00

Gender

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Female 47.6 % 50.8 % 0.07
Male 52.4 % 49.2 % 0.07

Mean Effect Size

0.09

For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences between groups in the descriptions below, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not demographic characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.

To determine whether the experimental and control groups were equivalent, independent samples t tests were applied to the age and standardized test score data in separate analyses comparing the experimental and control groups, using the data collected from students who took both the pretests and posttests. These tests revealed that there were no differences between the groups with regard to age, reading scores, and math scores. (See the article for the statistical results of these tests.)

Design Full Bobble

What method was used to determine students' placement in treatment/control groups?
Random
Please describe the assignment method or the process for defining treatment/comparison groups.
Within each age group (middle school and high school), students were subgrouped according to gender. Then students in each gender group and age group were given a code number. Half of the numbers in each gender and age group in each class were drawn randomly "out of a hat" for the experimental group. The remaining students served in the control group.

What was the unit of assignment?
Students
If other, please specify:

Please describe the unit of assignment:

What unit(s) were used for primary data analysis?
not selected Schools
not selected Teachers
selected Students
not selected Classes
not selected Other
If other, please specify:

Please describe the unit(s) used for primary data analysis:
Student scores on the pretests and posttests were used in the data analyses.

Fidelity of Implementation Full Bobble

How was the program delivered?
selected Individually
not selected Small Group
not selected Classroom

If small group, answer the following:

Average group size
Minimum group size
Maximum group size

What was the duration of the intervention (If duration differed across participants, settings, or behaviors, describe for each.)?

Weeks
Sessions per week
5.00
Duration of sessions in minutes
45.00
What were the background, experience, training, and ongoing support of the instructors or interventionists?
The instructor was an employee of Edge Enterprises, Inc. She had a Ph.D. in child psychology. She was not a certified teacher. She monitored the students' use of the computers and provided feedback to the students on their final permanent products which contained written sentences. The bulk of the instruction was supplied by the computerized multimedia program, which the students worked on individually.

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained.
The computerized program delivered the instruction. The program was designed such that students could not "break" the program or go forward within the program without completing every activity correctly or entering a pass code when they completed a segment of the program. Pass codes were given to the students by the instructor when the student had performed at mastery. Students raised their hands when they completed a practice activity or major section of the multimedia program. At that time, the instructor recorded the score the student had achieved on a given practice activity (which the computer displayed on the screen) or scored a written practice activity. Then the instructor gave the student a passcode to continue through to the next segment or lesson. Thus, the instructor recorded the completion of each segment of the program and all the scores that each student earned on each quiz and practice activity.

What were the results on the fidelity-of-treatment implementation measure?
The fidelity of treatment implementation measures showed that all of the experimental middle-school and high-school students completed 100% of the segments of the multimedia program. Students earned scores well above 80% on all of the practice activities, earned average scores above 89% on the quizzes, and met the mastery criteria on every lesson. (See the article and supplementary tables for more details.)

Was the fidelity measure also used in control classrooms?
The control students were present in the same classrooms as the experimental students. They worked individually on separate computers. The instructor kept track of each control student's completion of activities within their assigned computerized programs and the scores they achieved on their practice activities. All of the control students completed 100% of the segments in their assigned programs.

Measures and Results

Measures Targeted : Full Bobble
Measures Broader : Full Bobble

Study measures are classified as targeted, broader, or administrative data according to the following definitions:

  • Targeted measures
    Assess outcomes, such as competencies or skills that the program was directly targeted to improve.
    • In the academic domain, targeted measures typically are not the very items taught but rather novel items structured similarly to the content addressed in the program. For example, if a program taught word-attack skills, a targeted measure would be decoding of pseudo words. If a program taught comprehension of cause-effect passages, a targeted measure would be answering questions about cause-effect passages structured similarly to those used during intervention, but not including the very passages used for intervention.
    • In the behavioral domain, targeted measures evaluate aspects of external or internal behavior the program was directly targeted to improve and are operationally defined.
  • Broader measures
    Assess outcomes that are related to the competencies or skills targeted by the program but not directly taught in the program.
    • In the academic domain, if a program taught word-level reading skill, a broader measure would be answering questions about passages the student reads. If a program taught calculation skill, a broader measure would be solving word problems that require the same kinds of calculation skill taught in the program.
    • In the behavioral domain, if a program taught a specific skill like on-task behavior in one classroom, a broader measure would be academic performance in that setting or on-task behavior in another setting.
  • Administrative data measures apply only to behavioral intervention tools and are measures such as office discipline referrals (ODRs) and graduation rates which do not have psychometric properties as do other, more traditional targeted or broader measures.

Click here for more information on effect size.


What populations are you submitting outcome data for?
selected Full sample
not selected Students at or below the 20th percentile
not selected English language learners
not selected Racial/ethnic subgroups
not selected Economically disadvantaged students (low socioeconomic status)
Targeted Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Broader Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Administrative Data Measure Reverse Coded? Relevance

Posttest Data

Targeted Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Targeted Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P
For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not pretest characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.
To determine whether the experimental and control groups were equivalent, independent samples t tests were applied to the age and standardized test score data in separate analyses comparing the experimental and control groups, using the data collected from students who took both the pretests and posttests. These tests revealed that there were no differences between the groups with regard to age, reading scores, and math scores. (See the article for the results of the statistical tests.)
Please explain any missing data or instances of measures with incomplete pre- or post-test data.
There were no missing data.
If you have excluded a variable or data that are reported in the study being submitted, explain the rationale for exclusion:
Student satisfaction ratings and teacher satisfaction ratings are not reported here since they are social validity measures and not outcome measures. (See the article for these results.)
Describe the analyses used to determine whether the intervention produced changes in student outcomes:
A pretest-posttest control-group design was employed. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) were used to compare the posttest scores of the experimental and control students on the Sentence Editing Test and Sentence Construction Test measures. The pretest scores were used as the covariate for each measure. The between-subject factors were the condition (experimental vs. control) and school level (middle school vs. high school). Additionally, an independent samples t test was used to compare the Form B scores of the validation group to the Form B posttest scores of the experimental groups with regard to the correct insertion of commas. The criterion for significance for all tests was set at .05. Effect sizes were reported using Cohen's d. The results revealed significant differences for all comparisons, with the experimental student groups (both middle and high school) scoring significantly higher on the correct insertion of commas, significantly lower on the incorrect insertion of commas, and significantly higher on the construction of sentences than the control groups. No differences were found between the middle-school and high-school experimental students. Additionally, the experimental students earned scores significantly higher than their validation peers with regard to the correct insertion of commas. All of the effect sizes were very large. (See the article for the actual statistical numbers and the effect sizes that resulted from each comparison.)

Additional Research

Is the program reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA?
E-ESSA
Summary of WWC / E-ESSA Findings :

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse.

 

 

Evidence for ESSA*

Program Outcomes: A total of six studies met standards. Five involved targeted forms of SIM and one involved CLC. Outcomes were remarkably consistent, with four of the six effect sizes falling in the range from +0.07 to +0.15, with an average of +0.10. Several of the outcomes were statistically significant, qualifying SIM for the ESSA “Strong” category.

 

Number of Studies: 6

 

Average Effect Size: 0.10

 

Full Report

 

*Evidence for ESSA evaluated the Strategic Instruction Model, which encompasses Learning Strategies Curriculum.

How many additional research studies are potentially eligible for NCII review?
0
Citations for Additional Research Studies :

Data Collection Practices

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