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BetterReading: Understanding gains in reading fluency

This project aims to shed light on the cognitive skills and mechanisms of fluent reading, aiming to provide clues on how we can better support children who struggle to achieve sufficient reading skills.

Girl who reads

Achieving reading fluency is very important for being able to gain knowledge and pleasure from reading. Yet many children struggle to develop adequate reading skills, with major potential academic and social consequences (illustration photo: Colourbox)

About the project

Reading is essential in our literate societies, and literacy is a major goal of education. Learning to read is a stunning cognitive achievement, which requires instruction and practice; and many children do not manage to achieve sufficient reading skills.

Reading fluency refers to the ability to read out aloud with accuracy, speed, and proper expression. It is a stable and strong index and predictor of reading skill, including reading comprehension, which is the goal of reading. Yet fluency remains poorly understood, because all existing theories miss a crucial element, namely the role of sequential processing, and this prevents the development of efficient interventions.

In this project we set out to fill this major gap in our understanding of reading with new knowledge produced with innovative methods, leading to both theoretical and concrete applied outcomes for education.

  • Specifically, we will apply a reading intervention that is known to be effective and we will study a range of skills to unprecedented breadth and depth, in order to identify those most closely associated with the effect of the intervention.
  • We will focus on children in the late beginner stage (Grade 2) and intermediate-to-advanced readers (Grade 5). In addition to standard psychoeducational assessment, we will apply eye tracking methodology and derive joint gaze-voice measures to precisely track reading efficiency on a word-by-word basis. We will measure word processing automaticity and serial naming efficiency with materials designed to pose specific processing demands.
  • The comprehensive battery of measures before and after the intervention will help us understand the malleability of dimensions underlying fluency and its relationship to comprehension, and will suggest targets for early screening and novel interventions.

The project will make data available for further research, and will provide fully validated intervention and training materials for immediate use in reading interventions by practitioners. Online announcements and a workshop will maximize awareness and uptake in special education.


BetterReading is a 5-year project with a reading intervention at its core. It will be carried out by researchers at the Department of Special Needs Education, University of Oslo, in close collaboration with selected schools in and around Oslo, with the help of external expert collaborators and an international advisory board.


The project is funded by the FINNUT programme of the Norwegian Research Council (2020-2025; project number 301519


Refinement and customization of speech processing technologies necessary for automatizing the eye-gaze alignment workflow will be subcontracted to an expert technology group at the Institute for Language and Speech Processing, Athena Research Center (Athens, Greece).


The project will make use of resources offered by Oslo SPeLL (Special education and Learning Lab), including testing materials, intervention expertise, as well as eye tracking equipment, lab facilities, and technical support.  

Published Oct. 12, 2020 2:42 PM - Last modified Feb. 16, 2021 8:59 AM