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Research Report

What Makes Literacy Tutoring Effective?

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In 1991, researchers Connie Juel reported that university student-athletes who were poor readers seemed to be effective tutors of first-grade children who were poor readers. This 1996 study explores factors that may account for successful tutoring outcomes when poor readers tutor other poor readers. Two activities were found to be particularly important in successful tutor-student relationship: (a) the use of texts that gradually and repetitively introduced both high-frequency vocabulary and words with common spelling patterns and (b) activities in which children were engaged in direct letter-sound instruction. Two forms of verbal interaction were found to be particularly important: (a) scaffolding of reading and writing and (b) modeling of how to read and spell unknown words.


Juel, C. (1996). What makes literacy tutoring effective? Reading Research Quarterly, 31, 268-289.