Projects and Publications

Projects spinning off from ELN

Literacy for Entrepreneurship: Integrated Reading and Writing support in vocational education
Countries involved: Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Estonia, Romania
Funding Agency: Horizon 2020, Erasmus +
Duration: 2015-2018
Project’s website 

Abstract for Literacy for Entrepreneurship: Integrated Reading and Writing support in vocational education

For a majority of students in vocational education and training schools, and in particular for those with a migration background, reading and writing are complex cognitive and linguistic challenges that are not always mastered successfully. However, reading and writing skills are not only important requirements for successful school and professional careers, but also necessities for participation in democratic societies.

Therefore, the project aims to enhance literacy in VET not only in language education classes but also across the curriculum. It develops learning scenarios in which reading and writing become meaningful activities for task accomplishment and problem-solving in everyday and working life and aims to use interactions between reading and writing in order to achieve a more sustainable learning effect. The scenarios are adaptable to the needs of the participating countries and of the apprentices that may choose different professional careers. They include reading and writing strategies training and, if necessary, focus on language exercises that activate students’ prior knowledge, "scaffold” the reading and writing processes and/or raise awareness about specific language skills and their importance for reading and writing. 

In-Service Teacher Training is a substantial part of the project; teachers themselves are involved in the scenario development as well as in the implementation, evaluation and dissemination of the teaching approach. 

The evaluation includes students’ self-assessment instruments, focus group discussions with teachers, questionnaires assessing background information of students and teachers (e.g. gender, age, apprenticeship, country of origin, home language, etc.) and should provide results about the effectiveness of the approach in the specific country and school context. The revised scenarios and classroom materials can be considered as good practice and may serve as basis for the development of further learning scenarios.
Infrastructure and integrated tools for personalized learning of reading skill (iRead Project)
Countries involved: UK, Portugal, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Romania, Norway, FYR of Macedonia
Funding Agency: Horizon 2020
Duration: 2017-2021

Abstract for Infrastructure and Integrated Tools for Personalized Learning of Reading Skill

iRead is a Horizon 2020 Innovation Action project with 17 partners from industry and education. It is coordinated by the UCL Knowledge Lab at the UCL Institute of Education. The project started in January 2017 and will end in December 2019. The goal of iRead is to develop personalised apps (literacy games, an e-reader app, e-books and a text classifier that chooses appropriate materials) that will together form a learning programme that supports students in acquiring the skills to become competent readers. Teacher tools, informed by analytics from student interactions, will enable teachers to design and evaluate new learning journeys customised to the needs of individual students.

The project addresses a broad reach of learner groups within primary education: beginning readers, children with dyslexia and children learning English as a foreign language. It also covers four languages ­ English, German, Spanish and Greek. This scale is facilitated by a personalized learning paradigm which recognises similarities and also differences between learner groups to deliver appropriate pedagogical interventions.

In parallel to the project¹s goal to have impact in classrooms and education contexts across Europe, the project will facilitate the development of an open infrastructure with language resources for adaptive personalised reading technologies. The infrastructure will support existing and new technology industry players who want to create new personalised reading apps.
Componential Analysis of Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction in Writing: Online Instruction and Assessment
Countries involved: Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, UK
Funding Agency Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
Duration: 2016-2020

Abstract for Componential Analysis of Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction in Writing: Online Instruction and Assessment

The present project is focused on the development of an online instructional program (named CSRI-OL) aimed at improving primary students' writing through a self-regulated strategic approach to teaching writing. There are strong scientific evidences that self-regulated strategy instruction is more effective than alternative approaches for teaching writing, for students in both primary and secondary school, with and without learning disabilities (See Graham & Harris, 2017 for a meta-analyses of the existing meta-analysis). However, strategy-focused approach is not an usual and extended practice in educational contexts. Its complexity and the fact that strategy-focused approach comprises multiple components and contents may explain why it is not widely used in schools, despite its effectiveness. It may be challenging for teachers to master and effectively implement this specific instructional practice in their classrooms. Also, strategy-focused approach may be not easily adapted by teachers to different educational contexts and different students’ needs and characteristics.
 So, the development of the on-line strategy-focused program CSRI-OL, intended in this project, can be an effective way to surpass those difficulties and to support teachers in in order to get their professional development about teaching writing effectively. 

The CSRI-OL program is based in Cognitive Self-Regulation Instruction (CSRI), a program that has already been demonstrated to give large and persistent increases in primary school students’ writing competence in several controlled evaluation studies (See Torrance, Fidalgo, & García, 2007; Fidalgo, Torrance, & García, 2008; Fidalgo, Torrance, & Robledo, 2011; Torrance, Fidalgo, & Robledo, 2015; Fidalgo, Torrance, Rijlaarsdam, Van den Bergh, & Álvarez, 2005; see Fidalgo & Torrance, 2017 for a review). The online version of this program, CSRI-OL, will be adapted to student needs, allowing researchers and teachers to make objective choices about which instructional modules to best support specific students’ development. Different instructional programs can be assembled from various self-regulation focused components based on the areas that specific students need to work on (e.g., planning or revising processes, learning genre conventions, and so forth) and the instructional methods by which particular students are best taught (e.g., by direct instruction of writing strategies, or by observing mastery or coping models implementing specific writing strategies, or practicing by pairs with feedback or supportive materials, and so on).

ELN Publications

Arfé, B., Dockrell, J.E., & De Bernardi, B. (2016). The effect of language specific factors on early written composition

Arfé, B., Dockrell, J.E., & De Bernardi, B. (2016). The effect of language specific factors on early written composition: the role of spelling, oral language and text generation skills in a shallow orthography. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 29, 501-527, doi: 10.1007/s11145-015-9617-5

To write children must learn new mechanisms of language production. One of these mechanisms is spelling, or the ability to translate word sounds in letters. The acquisition of spelling skills is not a simple process for the child, and in some languages, like English, the full mastery of spelling skills requires about 3 or 4 years.  Indeed, in these languages the correspondences between sounds and letters are not always immediately evident or shallow (i.e. one sound can correspond to different letters, like in peace and piece or in ate and eight). Due to the difficulties of spelling, spelling is considered one of the main barriers to text production during the first three years of schooling.

In other languages, like Italian, however, the acquisition of spelling skills is deemed to be easier for the child, as there is an almost perfect correspondence between word sounds and word letters. In our work we have explored if spelling skills are less a barrier to text production for children learning orthographies like Italian (i.e. more shallow). To achieve this goal, we have compared the role played by spelling and other language skills (like vocabulary and grammatical skills) in the early written production of 7-8 year olds Italian pupils.  The results of our study show that although spelling skills are important also for Italian beginning writers, they are less a barrier to text production for young Italian writers. We have also found that other language skills, like grammatical skills, can play a greater role in the early phases of writing acquisition in Italian.  The main implication of our research is that to assess early written production, educators and clinicians likely need to focus on a relatively different set of language skills in different languages and orthographic systems. 

Limpo, T., Alves, R. A., & Connelly, V. (2016). Examining the transcription-writing link

Limpo, T., Alves, R. A., & Connelly, V. (2016). Examining the transcription-writing link: Effects of handwriting fluency and spelling accuracy on writing performance via planning and translating in middle grades. Learning and Individual Differences, 53, 26-36. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2016.11.004

This paper examines the relationship between transcription and writing in middle graders. Transcription is the transformation of language representations into written text, which requires spelling (retrieval of orthographic symbols) and handwriting (execution of fine-motor movements). Mastering transcription is important because, once handwriting and spelling get sufficiently fast and accurate, writers are able to simultaneously activate high-level processes such as planning (generation and organization of ideas) and translating (conversion of generated ideas into language). Here, we examined the relationship between handwriting, spelling, planning, translating, and writing performance. 

Results indicated that a great part of students’ performance in writing was associated with their abilities to write fast, to spell words correctly, to plan ahead of writing, and to craft good sentences. Moreover, results showed that handwriting and spelling did not contribute directly to writing performance (as typically observed in primary grades) but indirectly via planning and translating. Specifically, faster handwriting was associated with better quality by allowing students to produce more elaborated plans, whereas more accurate spelling was associated with better quality by allowing students to produce more complex and syntactically correct sentences. 

Overall, it seems that, in middle graders, transcription interferes with writing performance, by constraining key processes underlying good writing. Thus, as a building block of writing development, transcription should be taught and practiced from very early on, so that the acquisition of other processes is not compromised later. There is now plenty of evidence on the effectiveness of handwriting and spelling instruction to promote fast and accurate transcription. This kind of instruction is particularly important in the initial years of learning to write. However, when slow handwriting and/or poor spelling are identified in teenage school years, supplementary training in transcription might be warranted.

Pereira, L., Jorge, A. and Brites, M. J. (In press). Media Education Competitions

Pereira, L., Jorge, A. and Brites, M. J. (In press). Media Education Competitions: an efficient strategy for digital literacies? Italian Journal of Sociology of Education.

This is a research about competitions in Portugal that involve digital education. We collected16 initiatives (2010-2015) and the focus of this paper is on its value as non-formal education. The results of this project show a direct link between the topics of the competitions and the curricula, which blurs the boundaries between formal and non-formal learning.

Contact first authors for pdfs 

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