IRA Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award

The IRA Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award is an award given annually for a dissertation completed in reading or literacy. Summaries of winning dissertations are published each year in Reading Research Quarterly.

Dissertations in reading or related fields are eligible for the competition. Studies using any research approach (ethnographic, experimental, historical, survey, etc.) are encouraged. Each study is assessed in the light of this approach, the scholarly qualification of its report, and its significant contributions to knowledge within the reading field.

Eligibility for the 2015 Award Year:

The competition is open to those who have completed dissertations in any aspect of the field of reading or literacy between May 15, 2013, and May 14, 2014 and approved by the committee. A routine check is made with the home university of the applicant to protect all competitors, their universities, and the International Reading Association from false claims. Applicants must be current members of the International Reading Association.

Submission deadline: extended until January 15, 2015


IRA Outstanding Dissertation Award Submission Application

Award Recognition and Presentation
The winner and the top finalists will be invited to present their dissertation research at the Dissertation Poster Session held during IRA's 60th Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, July 17-20, 2015. They will also be recognized at an awards ceremony during the conference.

For additional information, contact

Award Recipients


Byeong-Young ChoMary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart, Ph.D.
Texas Woman's University

"Social networking, Workplace, and Entertainment Literacies: The Out-of-School Literate Lives of Newcomer Latina/o Adolescents"

Dr. Mandy Stewart completed her dissertation at the University of North Texas.

Dr. Stewart received a Ph.D. in Reading from the University of North Texas. Her committee members are Dr. Carol Wickstrom, Leslie Patterson, and Samuel Manickam of UNT and Dr. Nora White of Texas Woman's University. The Department Chair at the time of her graduation, Dr. Nancy Nelson, also won the IRA Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award in 1984. Mandy has taught English and Spanish learners from ages eight to 80, but especially enjoys working with adolescents. Her current work focuses on high school bilingual students' cultural and linguistic resources that can be leveraged for academic success, specifically through culturally relevant reading and writing. Dr. Stewart is an Assistant Professor of Bilingual and English as a Second Language Education at Texas Woman's University where she prepares all teachers to have asset views of diverse students. You may read about her article on effectively teaching and caring for immigrant students in the September 2013 issue of JAAL.

Byeong-Young Cho

Adolescents' Constructively Responsive Reading Strategy Use in a Critical Internet Reading Task

Institution: University of Maryland
Chair: Dr. Peter Afflerbach
Tanya S. Wright

What Classroom Observations Reveal About Oral Vocabulary Instruction in Kindergarten

Institution: Michigan State University
Jennifer Manak

Intertextual Connections: The Impact of Interactive Read Alouds on the Writing of Third Graders During Writing Workshop

Institution: University of Florida
Eithne Kennedy

Effective approaches to improving achievement in literacy in high-poverty schools

Institution: St. Patrick's College in Drumcondra, Dublin, Irelandu
Jennifer M. Graff

The Literary Lives of Marginalized Readers: Preadolescent Girls' Rationales for Book Choice and Experiences with Self-Selected Books

Institution: University of Florida
Chair: Danling Fu
Karen E. Wohlwend

Kindergarten as Nexus of Practice: A Mediated Discourse Analysis ofReading, Writing, Play and Design Practices in an Early LiteracyApprenticeship

Institution: University of Iowa
Chair: Kathryn Whitmore
Wendy Johnson Donnell

The effects of multisensory vowel instruction during word study for third grade students

Institution: University of Missouri
Chair: Tamera Murdock
Leigh A. Hall

Anything but lazy: New understandings about struggling readers, teaching, and text

Institution: Michigan State University
Chair: Victoria Purcell-Gates
Molly Fuller Collins

ESL preschoolers' English vocabulary acquisition and story comprehension from storybook reading

Institution: Boston University
Chair: Judith A. Schickedanz
Kristen D. Ritchey

The prediction of growth in reading subskills and the relationship of growth to literacy outcomes in kindergarten

Institution: University of Maryland
Chair: Deborah L. Speece
Stephanie Al Otaiba
Children who do not respond to early literacy intervention: A longitudinal study across kindergarten and first grade
Institution: Peabody College, Vanderbilt University
Chair: Douglass Fuchs
Kathryn Glasswell
The patterning of difference: Teachers and children constructing development in writing
Institution: University of Auckland, New Zealand
Chair: Stuart McNaughton
Pia Rebello Britto
Family literacy environments and children's emerging literacy skills
Institution: Columbia University
Chair: Marla Brassard
Lawrence R. Sipe
The construction of literary understanding by first- and second-graders in response to picture storybook read-aloud
Institution: Ohio State University
Chair: Janet Hickman
Marné B. Isakson
Learning from practice: Supporting the literacy learning of reluctant and less proficient adolescent readers
Institution: Brigham Young University
Chair: David D. Williams
Patricia M. Davis
Literacy acquisition, retention, and usage: A case study of the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon
Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Chair: John A. Laska, Jr.
Linda R. Ayres
The efficacy of three training conditions on phonological awareness ofkindergarten children and the longitudinal effects of each on laterreading acquisition
Institution:Oakland University
Chair: Ronald L. Cramer
Janice F. Almasi
The nature of fourth graders' sociocognitive conflicts in peer-led and teacher-led discussions of literature
Institution: University of Maryland
Chair: Linda Gambrell
Julianne C. Turner
Situated motivation in literacy instruction
Institution: University of Michigan
Chair: Scott G. Paris
Susan I. McMahon
Book Club: A case study of a group of fifth graders as they participate in a literature based reading program
Institution: Michigan State University
Chair: Taffy Raphael
Douglas K. Hartman
Eight readers reading: The intertextual links of able readers using multiple passages
Institution: University of Illinois-Champaign
Chair: P. David Pearson
Marlene Schommer
Students' beliefs about the nature of knowledge: What are they and how do they affect comprehension?
Institution: California State University, Los Angeles
Chair: Richard C. Anderson
Beth Spencer
The development of the young child's concept of word: A longitudinal study
Institution: Emory University
Chair: Peter Afflerbach
Anne E. Cunningham
Enhancing phonemic awareness and early reading achievement with metacognitive instruction
Institution: University of Michigan
Chair: Scott Paris
Alison Preece
Young children's productive narrative competence in conversational contents: Form, function and developmental change
Institution: University of British Columbia
Chair: Norma Mickelson
Peter Afflerbach
The influence of prior knowledge on expert readers' main idea construction process
Institution: Emory University
Chair: Peter Johnston
Margaret Gentile McKeown
The acquisition of word meaning from context by children of high and low ability
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Chair: Isabel Beck
Nancy N. Spivey
Discourse synthesis: Constructing texts in reading and writingInstitution: University of Texas at Austin
Chair: Charles R. Kline and Michael Strange
Deborah P. Birkmire
Effect of the interaction of text structure, background knowledge and purpose on attention to text
Institution: University of Delaware
Chair: John Guthrie
Peter H. Johnston
Prior knowledge and reading comprehension test bias
Institution: University of Illinois
Chair: George McConkie
William A. Diehl
Functional literacy as a variable construct: An examination ofattitudes, behaviors and strategies related to occupational literacy
Institution: Indiana University
David Allen Hayes
The effect of text-embedded analogy upon comprehension and learning
Institution: University of Arizona
Allan R. Hagerup-Neilsen
The role of macrostructures and linguistic connectives in comprehensing familiar and unfamiliar written discourse
Institution: University of Minnesota
Tom Nicholson
The relative effects of different error types on children&'s understanding of connected discourse
Institution: University of Minnesota
Victor Froese
The quality, direction, and distance of within sentence contextual constraints
Institution: University of Minnesota
Beth De Fratis Evans
A study of what Chicano and Anglo children remember about the stories they read and hear
Institution: University of Colorado
Nancy Marshall
The structure of semantic memory for text
Institution: Cornell University
Paul Clements
The effects of staging on recall from prose
Institution: Cornell University
Pamela Anne R. Terry
The effect of orthographic transformations upon speed and accuracy of semantic categorization
Institution: University of Minnesota
Che Kan Leong
Spatial-temporal information processing in children with specific reading disability
Institution: University of Alberta
Robert E. Judge
The effect of presentation mode and material difficulty on third andseventh graders' use of phonemic and semantic attributes to encodewords into long term memory
Institution: State University of New York at Albany
Susan Dalfen Denberg
The interaction of picture and print in reading instruction
Institution: University of Toronto
Jerome A. Niles
The use of featural and letter dependency information in word recognition by elementary school children
Institution: State University of New York at Albany
Grace Velina Malicky
The effect of deletion produced structures on word identification and comprehension of beginning readers
Institution: University of Alberta
Stella S.F. Liu
An investigation of oral reading miscues made by nonstandard dialect speaking black children
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Patricia Rawerts Dahl
A mastery based experimental program for teaching high speed word recognition skills
Institution: University of Minnesota
Laurence Walker
A comparative study of selected reading and listening processes
Institution: University of Alberta
Charles W. Peters
A comparison between the Frayer Model of concept attainment and the textbook approach to concept attainment
Institution: University of Wisconsin
Fillmore K. Peltz
The effect upon comprehension of repatterning based upon students' writing patterns
Institution: Hofstra University
Ross Oliver M. Latham
Cognitive synthesis and the comprehension of written language
Institution: University of Alberta
Raymond J. Horton
The construct validity of cloze procedure: An exploratory factoranalysis of cloze, paragraph reading, and structure-of-intellect tests
Institution: Hofstra University
Richard L. Allington
An evaluation of the use of color cues to focus attention in discrimination and paired-associate learning
Institution: Michigan State University
Norma I. Mickelson
Associative verbal encoding (a/v/e): A measure of language performance and its relationship to reading achievement
Institution: University of Washington
Joseph C. Kretschmer
Measuring reading comprehension
Institution: Ohio State University
Carita A. Chapman
A test of hierarchical theory of reading comprehension
Institution: University of Chicago
Barbara D. Stoodt
The relationship between memory processes in reading comprehension
Institution: Ohio State University
Diane J. Sawyer
Intra-sentence grammatical constraints in readers' samplings of the visual display
Institution: Cornell University
Robert K. Jackson
An examination of the role of memory processes in reading comprehension
Institution: University of Alberta
William T. Fagan
An investigation into the relationship of reading difficulty and the number and type of sentence transformations
Institution: University of Alberta
Hildred I. Rawson
A study of the relationships and development of reading and cognition
Institution: University of Alberta
Marguerite B. Bougere
Selected factors in oral language related to first grade reading achievement
Institution: University of Chicago
Anne O. Stemmler
Reading of highly creative versus highly intelligent secondary students
Institution: University of Chicago
Jean E. Robertson
An investigation of pupil understanding of connectives in reading
Institution: University of AlbertaWilber S. Ames
A study of the process by which readers determine word meaning through the use of verbal context
Institution: University of Missouri
Helen K. Smith
The response of good and poor readers when asked to read for different purposes
Institution: University of Chicago
Robert B. Ruddell
An investigation of the effects of the similarity of oral and written patterns of language structure on reading comprehension
Institution: Indiana University
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