Thursday, December 28, 2023

This blog post is part of our Research Article of the Month series. For this month, we highlight “Evaluating Components of the Active View of Reading as Intervention Targets: Implications for Social Justice,” an article published in the journal School Psychology in 2023. Important words related to research are bolded, and definitions of these terms are included at the end of the article in the “Terms to Know” section.

Why Did We Pick This Paper?

Models are a way to represent a theory of reading; they explain what reading involves and how reading “works.” Several models have been proposed to describe the skills required for proficient reading. One widely-cited and well-known model is called the Simple View of Reading (SVR), which posits that reading comprehension is the product of word recognition and language comprehension (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Hoover & Tunmer, 2020). A newer, recently-proposed model is called the Active View of Reading (AVR) (Duke & Cartwright, 2021). This model posits that reading depends on active self-regulation, which allows for word recognition, language comprehension, and the processes that bridge them (bridging processes). These four domains are further broken down into components as shown in Figure 1. Definitions of each domain and component can be found in the Active View of Reading Reference Sheet linked at the end of this blog post.



Figure 1

The Active View of Reading

A model of the Active View of Reading



Note. Several wordings in this model are adapted from Scarborough (2001). Reprinted from “The science of reading progresses: Communicating advances beyond the Simple View of Reading,” by N. K. Duke and K. B. Cartwright, 2021, Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S25-S44. Copyright 2021 Authors. Reprinted with permission.


The SVR is well-researched, yet it only depicts two main targets for reading success (word recognition and language comprehension), identifying the most essential constructs in the development of reading skills. The AVR, by contrast, identifies more specific components of the cognitive processes in reading that bridge these constructs (Duke & Cartwright, 2021). However, it is important to note that the SVR was not intended to model the process of reading; rather, it simply identifies the broad cognitive capacities that are required for reading (Hoover and Tunmer, 2021). Thus, the aim of the AVR is not to replace or invalidate the SVR but rather to identify more specific components that underlie word recognition and language comprehension, allowing educators to consider other possible intervention targets to address students’ reading difficulties.


What Are the Research Questions or Purpose?

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the reading components identified in the AVR by addressing the following research questions:

  1. What are the effects of reading interventions from domains and components of the AVR?
  2. How well do the components of the AVR predict overall reading achievement?

What Methodology Do the Authors Employ?

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 333 studies examining the effects of reading interventions from domains and components of the AVR on reading comprehension or general reading achievement (e.g., a standardized test of reading) for K-12 students. These individual studies were drawn from existing meta-analyses.

To be included in the review, the meta-analyses needed to:

  • include only studies using experimental research with between-group designs
  • report an effect size for each included study
  • use reading comprehension or general reading achievement as the dependent variable
  • focus on K-12 grade students
  • examine instructional interventions targeting a single contributor to reading (e.g., vocabulary or fluency)
  • report the age/grade of students, the reading ability of students, and the instructional intervention used
  • be published between 2006 and 2021
  • be written in English


The researchers searched four databases to identify all meta-analyses that met these criteria, identifying 26 meta-analyses in total. These meta-analyses contained 333 individual studies. For each study, the researchers identified the grade level of the students, converting ages to presumed grade level when necessary. They noted the reading ability of the students—either typical readers or “striving” readers, defined as students with reading disabilities or low reading skills. Next, they determined the domain and component of the AVR that was examined in each study. Finally, they indicated whether that domain and component of the AVR was part of word recognition or language comprehension—the two domains of the SVR. This would allow the researchers to compare the ability of the SVR and the AVR to predict reading outcomes.


Research Question 1: What Are the Effects of Reading Interventions From Domains and Components of the AVR?

To answer the first research question, the researchers examined each domain and component of the AVR one by one, computing the median effect size of interventions that targeted each given domain or component.

Research Question 2: How Well Do the Components of the AVR Predict Overall Reading Achievement?

To answer the second research question, the researchers used a regression analysis. This showed the extent to which each independent variable (e.g., grade level of the students, reading ability of the students, and domain and component of the AVR) predicted the dependent variable (effect size of each individual study).

What Are the Key Findings?

The median effect size of interventions was greater for striving readers than for typical readers, suggesting that striving readers benefitted from intervention more than typical readers.


For the individual components of the AVR, the researchers reported significant effects for:

  • motivation and engagement
  • phonics knowledge
  • phonological awareness
  • reading fluency
  • vocabulary knowledge
  • reading-specific background knowledge (e.g., text structure)
  • language structure
  • verbal reasoning
  • cultural and other content knowledge (significant effect for striving readers only)
  • strategy use (significant effect for striving readers only)


All effects were small except for the following:

  • For typical readers, phonological awareness and verbal reasoning had medium effects on reading. Reading fluency had a medium to large effect.
  • For striving readers, motivation and engagement, strategy use, and language structure had medium effects, and reading-specific background knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, and verbal reasoning had large effects.


The effects of the four domains of the AVR ranged from small to medium, indicating that each domain of the AVR contributed to the overall reading ability of students. The domains that were unique to the AVR—bridging processes and self-regulation—also contributed to reading outcomes for both typical and striving reading, adding significance beyond the effects of word recognition and language comprehension alone.


These findings suggest that reading interventions can take into account other factors that might have an impact on reading, such as bridging processes and self-regulation. This is particularly relevant for students who are still striving towards proficiency in reading. Interventions that derived originally from the SVR, such as reading-specific background knowledge and verbal reasoning, along with those targeting AVR components, such as vocabulary and strategy use, collectively contribute to addressing the reading difficulties faced by striving readers.


Notably, executive function and morphological awareness interventions did not have a statistically significant effect on reading outcomes. Additionally, six of the components were not represented in the studies included in this meta-analysis: print concepts, graphophonological-semantic cognitive flexibility, theory of mind, alphabetic principle, decoding skills, and sight word recognition. The researchers note that these last three components were likely subsumed by studies addressing phonics.

What Are the Limitations of This Paper?

This study examined the effect of each domain and component of the AVR on reading comprehension or reading achievement. Notably, not all individual components of the AVR have shown statistically significant positive effects when used as interventions. This might be due to a lack of empirical studies providing supportive evidence.


Another limitation is the insufficient exploration of how each component within the unique domains of AVR—self-regulation and bridging processes—might impact word recognition or language comprehension, which may, in turn, influence reading comprehension. This gap in research leaves uncertainty about the direct or indirect effects of these components on overall reading comprehension.

In addition, the AVR was not tested as a whole, which requires researchers and practitioners to systematically use the model as an intervention tool to establish causal relationships. This makes it challenging to evaluate the effectiveness of the model in its entirety. Thus, further research is needed to validate the AVR model in educational settings.

In thinking of ways to support students with reading difficulties, this study grouped students into two different types of readers: typical or striving readers. This classification was based on their reading skills as reported in each study included in the meta-analysis. However, the study did not delve into the specific types of reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, hyperlexia, and mixed disability. According to Hoover (2023), these difficulties can be traced to weaknesses in word recognition (dyslexia), language comprehension (hyperlexia), a blend of the two (mixed disability), or potentially other unexplained factors. To better understand struggling readers and to develop tailored interventions, additional research is necessary to examine the effects of each domain and component in addressing specific types of reading difficulties, which in turn could lead to more effective support strategies.

Terms to Know

  • Intervention: A reading intervention is targeted instruction that focuses specifically on individual student difficulties. Reading interventions may be led by a student’s regular classroom teacher, a special education teacher, a speech-language pathologist, or another specialist. They often occur in one-on-one or small-group settings.
  • Meta-analysis: A meta-analysis synthesizes the results of separate studies addressing the same research question by systematically identifying and evaluating studies on a certain phenomenon, pooling their data and conducting statistical analyses, and interpreting the collective results. 
  • Experimental: Experimental research aims to determine whether a certain treatment influences a measurable outcome—for example, whether a certain instructional method influences students’ reading comprehension scores. To do this, participants are divided into two groups: an experimental group, which receives the treatment, and a control group, which does not receive the treatment. In an experimental study, these groups are randomly assigned, meaning each participant has equal probability of being in either the treatment or the control group. Both groups are tested before and after the treatment, and their results are compared.
  • Between-group design: A between-group design is a kind of experimental design with two or more groups of participants. Each participant group is exposed to a different treatment, and the researcher compares the outcomes of each group. For example, to observe the effects of a new reading program, one group of students could participate in the new program while another group of students receives typical instruction.
  • Effect sizes: In statistics, effect size is a measure of the strength of the relationship between two variables in statistical analyses. A commonly used interpretation is to refer to effect size as small (g = 0.2), medium (g = 0.5), and large (g = 0.8) based on the benchmarks suggested by Cohen (1988), where “g” refers to Hedge’s g, a statistical measure of effect size.
  • Dependent variable: Dependent variables are factors that may change in response to an independent variable. For example, a student’s composite reading score (dependent variable) may change in response to the length of reading intervention they receive in total minutes (independent variable).
  • Independent variable: An independent variable is a factor that influences dependent variables in experimental studies. For example, the length of a reading intervention in total minutes (independent variable) may affect a student’s composite reading score (dependent variable). They are called “independent” because they are manipulated by the experimenter and therefore independent of other influences.
  • Regression analysis: In statistics, regression analysis is a process for estimating the relationship between one or more independent variables and a dependent variable. Regression analysis can be used to predict the value of a dependent variable for a given value of an independent variable (e.g., predicting a student’s composite reading score based on length of intervention time in minutes). In some cases, regression analysis can be used to infer cause-effect relationships between a dependent variable and an independent variable.


Supplemental Materials for Teachers

Active View of Reading Reference Sheet 


Burns, M. K., Duke, N. K., & Cartwright, K. B. (2023). Evaluating components of the active view of reading as intervention targets: Implications for social justice. School Psychology, 38(1), 30–41.

Duke, N. K., & Cartwright, K. B. (2021). The science of reading progresses: Communicating advances beyond the Simple View of Reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S25-S44.

Gough, P., & Tunmer, W.E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6–10.

Hoover,  W.A., & Tunmer, W.E. (2020). The cognitive foundations of reading and its acquisition. Springer.

Hoover, W. A., & Tunmer, W. E. (2021). The primacy of science in communicating advances in the science of reading. Reading Research Quarterly57(2), 399-408.

Hoover, W. A. (2023). The simple view of reading and its broad types of reading difficulties. Reading and Writing, 1-22.