Improving Reading and Reducing Reading Anxiety Among Students With Reading Difficulties


The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk is partnering with researchers at Boston University to investigate practices for improving reading comprehension and reducing reading anxiety with fourth- and fifth-grade students with reading difficulties. Previous research demonstrates a high prevalence of anxiety among children experiencing reading difficulties. Amie Grills of Boston University and MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn conducted a pilot study examining the effects of a reading intervention program that featured strategies for reducing anxiety. The researchers will further develop and test an integrated approach to reducing anxiety and reading problems in a randomized controlled trial with students in Texas and Massachusetts.



The project team will assess the efficacy of a multicomponent reading and anxiety-management intervention in a randomized controlled trial. Students will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) reading and anxiety-management instruction, (2) reading-only instruction, or (3) business-as-usual comparison condition. 


Fourth-grade students with reading difficulties will participate in the study. The research team will screen students identified with reading problems using the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test.

Instructional Approach

Instructional practices for reducing anxiety will focus on three core areas: (1) recognizing feelings and understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related; (2) practicing various relaxation techniques and developing stress-management skills; and (3) recognizing anxious and unhelpful thoughts and changing them. The research team will embed these practices within a previously tested reading intervention in an effort to improve students’ reading and socioemotional outcomes.


Researchers are currently enhancing the instructional materials and will post them here when available.