Understanding how different levels of readers comprehend science texts is the focus of a nearly $1 million grant awarded to an interdisciplinary team of Penn State psychology and education researchers by the National Science Foundation.
The grant is one of 16 awarded across the country as part of the NSF's Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems program as well as NSF's support for the White House BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies).
"Our research hopes to capture cognitive and brain representations and states during and after the reading of science texts, in both native English speakers and immigrant students for whom English is the second language," said Ping Li, principal investigator for the project and professor of psychology, linguistics and information sciences and technology. "Such an approach to individual differences in learning -- good readers vs. poor readers -- will have significant implications for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and education in general."
Li and colleagues will combine functional magnetic resonance imaging, reading comprehension and brain network analyses to understand the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying reading comprehension.
Working with Li are Roy B. Clariana, professor of education in the learning, design and technology program, and Bonnie Meyer, professor of educational psychology.