UF awards ‘Opportunity’ grant for Project Read Aloud

Posted Oct. 15, 2008

Holly Lane

Holly Lane


October 10, 2008



Posted Oct. 15, 2008

Holly Lane

Holly Lane

College of Education researchers at the University of Florida are celebrating the highly competitive "Research Opportunity Fund" (ROF) grant they have received from the university-but the real winners are the young children who figure to benefit from the newly funded studies in early language and literacy development.

Three language and literacy education specialists, along with a collaborating UF scholar in human development and family relations, received the special "incentive seed grant" for Project Read Aloud-a preliminary study pursuing research-proven strategies for helping young children improve their oral-language and early literacy skills. The two-year award is worth more than $70,000.

"Reading is a cornerstone for a child’s success in school and throughout life," said lead investigator Holly Lane, associate professor of special education. "We’ll be collecting preliminary data that would support a larger follow-up examination of the role of family education and teacher professional development in children’s language and literacy development. We’re assessing the benefits of teaching both parents and teachers about the proven practices in reading aloud."

Lane’s co-investigators are Associate Professor Hazel Jones (in special education), Assistant Professor Christie Cavanaugh (early childhood education), and Suzanne Smith (human development and family relations).

The seed money for Project Read Aloud is one of 19 ROF grants awarded this year by UF’s office of research. The seed grants provide funding for new and particularly promising research proposals that are multi-disciplinary and are expected to attract additional external funding from major funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.

Lane said her team will recruit six teachers and 12 young children (two from each teacher’s class) from preschool centers serving low-income families. An early priority is to develop, implement and evaluate effective curricula for improving parent and teacher knowledge and skills in reading aloud as a way to advance child language and literacy skills.

"Earlier studies have demonstrated which read-aloud methods are effective," Lane said, "but little research has been done to show how best to teach parents and teachers to use these methods."

The College of Education has received an ROF grant just three times before, including last year when Luis Ponjuan in educational administration and policy and Troy Sadler in mathematics education collaborated on a proposal. Their seed money is allowing them to assess the science research experience that current UF undergraduates typically receive. Their study is part of a campuswide effort to attract more students to the science disciplines as a field of study and potential career path.

Other past recipients were Maureen Conroy (special education) in 2005 and former education psychology faculty researcher Jennifer Asmus in 2002-both for childhood autism-related studies.

"ROF grants historically go to faculty researchers in the technical fields such as medicine and engineering," said Dean Catherine Emihovich, "so we are proud to have multidisciplinary research teams from the College of Education receive this highly competitive award two years in a row."

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Writer: Larry Lansford, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu

Source: Holly Lane, Associate Professor, Special Education; hlane@ufl.edu