Friday, January 13, 2023

Lead Student Writer Meg Mechelke is being recognized by being one of 70 students chosen for the University of Iowa’s Dare to Discover campaign.

Chosen for their work on the Varied Practice Reading instructional method and related research, Mechelke’s photo adorns a banner displayed in downtown Iowa City near the Iowa City Public Library, with the words “Meg Mechelke bridges creative writing and reading research.”

As lead student writer, Mechelke wrote passage sets for students in Grades 1–8 that are used in Varied Practice Reading. The instructional method, developed by Principal Investigator and former IRRC Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed and center staff, involves students reading sets of three or four passages that contain approximately 85% of the same words. Mechelke and the student writing team used creativity to write the passages with varied sentence structures, contexts, and storylines.

Dr. Reed received a $2 million grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences to study VPR for middle school students at-risk for reading disabilities. For this study, Mechelke and colleagues wrote passage sets about science and social studies topics, some of which were purely informational, while others presented factual information through the use of creative fictional narratives. The study continues now at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where Reed is a professor and director of the Tennessee Reading Research Center.

According to the Office of the Vice President for Research, “the Dare to Discover campaign showcases researchers, scholars, and creators from across the University of Iowa.”

Read the full Q&A with Mechelke from the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Mechelke was an English and creative writing and theatre arts major. They graduated in December of 2022 and are now working as the communications assistant at the IRRC. Mechelke worked most closely with Project Coordinator Kate Will, Communications Specialist Sean Thompson, and former Writing Coordinator Nicole DeSalle.