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Assistant professor awarded for dissertation excellence

Meghan Liebfreund, Ph.D., an assistant professor of educational technology and literacy at Towson University, won the 2015 International Literacy Association (ILA) Outstanding Dissertation Award. She will attend the national conference on Sunday, July 19 to receive her award and present her dissertation.

In her paper, she investigated factors that influenced informational text comprehension for students in grades three through five and how those factors varied for children with a high comprehension level and those on the low end of the spectrum.

Over six weeks in a North Carolina school, students read informational and narrative text passages from the fourth grade National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and were assessed on text comprehension, decoding efficiency, vocabulary, prior knowledge, and intrinsic motivation.

Her quantitative research revealed how important it is for educators to examine informational text comprehension for different groups of readers and the value of using multiple influencing factors – especially vocabulary – to increase understanding of informational texts.

“Standards now require increased levels of informational text,” Liebfreund said. “The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) necessitate the inclusion of more informational texts in lower grade levels and elevate them above narrative texts as students move upward through school. As elementary instruction shifts towards a focus on informational text, it is critical that researchers and teachers understand the skills, knowledge, and abilities readers utilize to comprehend these texts.”

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