IDELA Research Investigators

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Eunice Eunhee Jang, PhD
Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto
9-266, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON. M5S 1V6
Jeanne Sinclair, MA
Clarissa Lau, MSc
Megan Vincett, MA
Samantha McCormick, BA
Christopher Barron, BA

Overview of Talk2Me Jr. Study

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We are a group of IDELA researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. IDELA stands for Innovative Development in Educational Language Assessment. Our Talk2Me Jr. study seeks to answer the following questions:

We are interested in validating the diagnostic potential of Talk2Me Jr. and further examining its effectiveness as a tool for tracking growth in the following pillars, which are known to be critical for reading development. The Talk2Me Jr. is guided by the reading ability development (RAD) framework as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Five pillars of reading ability development (RAD).

The Talk2Me Jr. can identify linguistic and cognitive markers that distinguish among different groups of readers. Those linguistic features signal both bottom-up and top-down processes involving the reader’s use of graphic and contextual information for comprehension. Automatic word recognition is critical for textual comprehension because it enables the reader to devote his or her cognitive resources to linking background knowledge to newly decoded information. Cognitive factors, such as working memory and non-verbal reasoning, are known to have an impact on children’s reading development. Poor attention, problems with auditory and visual perceptions, and limited working memory, are highly associated with reading and learning difficulties. The Talk2Me Jr. extracts both cognitive and linguistic markers, which can be used to develop the profiles of individual readers and to determine the nature reading difficulties. We are interested in collecting a large amount of corpus data from various age groups, different L1 groups, and groups with different types of exceptionalities.

Procedures – What happens during the study?

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Step 1: Informed consent

The student can participate in the study by creating a user account in the Talk2Me Jr. website. When the student logs into the website, a consent form will be shown. A link to this help webpage is also presented. The student can provide his or her consent by selecting the appropriate option at the bottom of the consent form. The research team’s contact information is provided so that the participant can request additional information about the study.

Step 2: Tell us about yourself

Upon consenting to participate in the study, the student will be asked to answer a few questions about age, language background, and special education status. All data collected here will be kept anonymous, meaning personal information will not be disclosed.

Step 3: Talk2Me Jr. tasks

The Talk2Me Jr. consists of language and cognitive tasks, such as picture description, story recall, oral reading, word recognition, and matrix reasoning. The participant can respond to each task through verbal speech through a microphone, written response using a keyboard, or selection of options through a mouse click. One session may take approximately 25-30 minutes. The participant can complete as many sessions as she wants. If she opts in for scheduled reminder emails which will prompt her to complete a new session every 3 months..

Step 4: Reading engagement

This is the last part of the Talk2Me Jr. The survey will help us understand the participant’s level of engagement in reading.

Participant's Rights

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They can ask any question at any time. A researcher will be present while the participant completes their session. They can withdraw at any time without giving any reason. If the participant chooses to withdraw, all their data will be deleted immediately. There will be no consequences.

Risks and benefits

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There are no known research risks associated with the study. However, students with exceptionalities or English language learners may feel confused or stressed during the Talk2Me Jr. tasks. They can stop at any time by exiting the session and by withdrawing from the study.

There is consensus that young readers’ reading development is neither linear nor uniform across different subgroups. Identifying the sources of linguistic and cognitive difficulties can make reading intervention more effective. The large amount of corpus data collected in this study will be used to determine the effectiveness of the Talk2Me Jr. as a preclinical diagnostic tool for language and cognition.

Should you have any further questions, please contact the research investigators.