The Research Behind our Tools

Our products were developed from Dr. James M. Royer’s research on reading comprehension and reading difficulties. In the late 1970s Royer developed a technique for measuring listening and Reading Comprehension and for the next 10 years researched various aspects of the comprehension process.

In the late 1980s he turned his attention to why some students had difficulty in comprehending what they read. It soon became apparent that there were several reasons for comprehension failure and Royer turned his attention to developing computer-based procedures for identifying those reasons.

His research on reading diagnostics led to an interest in trying to remediate the reading difficulties he was identifying in the students he was working with. This interest led to the founding of the Laboratory for the Assessment and Training of Academic Skills (LATAS) in 1985, which was located in the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. LATAS worked with a referred population of students who were having difficulty acquiring reading and math skills.

In the early 1990s Royer teamed up with Dr. Jeremy Wise whose technical skills in computer programming and instrument design far exceeded his own.  This partnership has resulted to the software products offered on this web site.

For a full listing of Dr. Royer’s research activity see Royer-VITA.doc.


Research On Reading Comprehension

Dr. Royer’s early research focused on the development, validation, and uses for a new technique of measuring reading and listening comprehension. The technique is called the Sentence Verification Technique (SVT) and has been used in well over a hundred research studies (the majority by researchers other than Royer) examining reading and listening comprehension. Google Sentence Verification Technique for an indication of the range of usage for the technique. The SVT technique is used in our software to measure listening and reading comprehension. An article summarizing uses for the technique is listed below.

Royer, J. M. (2004). Uses for the Sentence Verification Technique for Measuring Language Comprehension.  Unpublished manuscript.

This article reviews the research completed by Royer and others that examined the reliability, validity and uses for comprehension tests generated using the Sentence Verification Technique procedure.  The entire article is not published though various components of the article have been published.
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Research On Reading Comprehension Difficulties

A major thrust of Royer’s research was an attempt to identify the reasons why readers had difficulty with reading comprehension. This research resulted in the development of computer-based procedures that identified a variety of cognitive difficulties that inhibited reading comprehension. These computer-based procedures provide the foundation of the Assessment tools contained in the Reading Success Lab software.

Sinatra, G. M., & Royer, J. M. (1993).  The development of cognitive component processing skills that support skilled reading.  Journal of Educational Psychology,85, 509-519.

This article was one of the first that examined the validity of the response time and accuracy tasks that were subsequently incorporated into the Reading Success Lab software.  Aspects of the study that were not included in the published article examined the reliability of the assessments and a number of additional validity indices.
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Royer, J. M., & Sinatra, G. M. (1994).  A cognitive theoretical approach to reading diagnostics.  Educational Psychology Review, 6,  81-114.

This article provides the theoretical rationale for using a procedure like that incorporated in the Reading Success Lab software as a reading diagnostic procedure.  The article sketches out a theory of reading development and identifies problems that could inhibit learning to read.  It then goes on to describes the characteristics that a good reading diagnostic system should have.  Those characteristics are present in the Reading Success Lab assessment module.
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Cisero, C. A., Royer, J. M., Marchant, H. G., Jackson, S. J.  (1997). Can the Computer-based academic assessment system (CAAS) be used to diagnose reading disability in college students?  Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 599-620.

This article examines research demonstrating that the CAAS system is a viable means of diagnosing reading disability in college populations.
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Greene, B. A., & Royer, J. M. (1994).  A developmental review of response time data that support a cognitive component model of reading. Educational Psychology Review, 6, 141-172.

This article provides a review of research studies that collect both accuracy and response time (time to perform a reading task) information.  This literature review was used to select the tasks that were subsequently incorporated into the Reading Success Lab assessment module.
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Rath, K. A., & Royer, J. M. (2002). The nature and effectiveness of learning disability services for college students.  Educational Psychology Review,14, 353-382.

This review article examines the research literature on the provision of learning disability services for college students.  One of the interesting aspects of the findings is that relatively few colleges provide services designed to make students better readers.  Instead, services focus on helping them learn and perform on tests through the use of services such as tutors or the provision of accommodations.
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Research On Remediating Reading Difficulties

Royer’s research on the causes of reading comprehension difficulties led to a desire to try and “fix” the problems that blocked the development of skilled reading. This desire resulted in Royer starting a clinic at the University of Massachusetts that provided services to children and adults with learning difficulties. The clients served by the clinic were referred by a range of educational professionals and quite often included individuals who had had a lot of phonics based reading interventions and those interventions had failed to make students better readers. Over time he developed interventions that proved to be successful with all students (dyslexic and poor readers). These intervention procedures provide the foundation for the Skill Builder interventions contained in the Reading Success Lab software. A sample publication resulting from this research is listed below.

Royer, J. M., & Walles, R.  (2007) Fluency Training as an alternative intervention for treatment resistant readers. In E. Grigorenko and A. Naples (Eds.) Single Word Reading: Biological and Behavioral Perspectives. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum. (pp. 327-353)

This book chapter reports research showing that students who have not benefited from phonics based instruction can make good progress in developing reading skills using the intervention techniques implemented in the Reading Success Lab skill builders.
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