Reading Fundamentals #1:

An Introduction to Scientifically-based Research


Instructor Name:          Dr. Karen Lea

Facilitator:                    Mick R. Jackson MS/ED

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:               8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Fax:                             509-926-7768

Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:



Reading Fundamentals supports the concept of scientifically-based reading research to develop a phonetically-based approach to reading assessment, instruction, evaluation, and remediation.


An Introduction to Scientifically-based Research, the first in the three-course Reading Fundamentals series on effective reading instruction, was designed to give background on scientifically-based instruction as it applies to the federal legislation of 2001. The course discusses the research that supports scientifically-based research as it applies to phonetically-based instruction, assessment, and evaluation. The course explores myths and misconceptions concerning reading instruction and remediation. It also presents an evaluation checklist designed to assess the effectiveness of your current reading program. The goal of the course is to present you with research, trustworthy evidence, and background information that support the need for a reading program that is based on scientific research and proven methods.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Throughout this three-course series you will hear and read the term Reading First. The terms “Reading First” and “Reading Fundamentals” are interchangeable and should be thought of and used as such.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                Reading Fundamentals #1: An Introduction to Scientifically-based Research

Authors:          Ronald Martella, Ph.D.

Publisher:         Virtual Education Software, inc.  2004, Revised 2010

Instructor:        Dr. Karen Lea

Facilitator:        Mick R. Jackson MS/ED


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed in part or in whole to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.

Aiding Honesty in Others

The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.


Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to educational settings. The curriculum suggestions and teaching strategies explained here were designed to be used for the teaching and remediation of students in kindergarten through sixth grade and an age range from approximately five years to twelve years of age. Some alterations may be needed if working with specific populations such as gifted, ESL, or special education.


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

1. Describe what is meant by critical thinking.

2. Explain what science is and illustrate the six scientific principles.

3. Explain the myths and misconceptions of science, and describe the ways in which we gain information.

4. Describe the impact science has had on medicine, clinical psychology, and education.

5. Illustrate the constraint levels in educational research.

6. Describe the concepts of reliability and validity.

7. Explain what is meant by variability, including the sources of variability.

8. Describe the terms internal and external validity, and explain the threats to each.

9. Illustrate the different research designs/methods (i.e., experimental, single-case, causal-comparative, correlational, and qualitative).

10. Describe the importance of replications and illustrate the types of replications.

11. Describe what is meant by the term research syntheses, and illustrate the National Reading Panel synthesis.

12. Describe the evaluation instrument for Stage I review of reading programs.


Course Description

States that receive funds from the No Child Left Behind, Reading First Act need to ensure that teachers are qualified to teach reading. They must have a working knowledge of scientifically validated instructional programs and practices. According to Kilpatrick (2003), the most critical part of the Act is that there must be an increase in teachers’ knowledge of the scientific process under which instructional programs are evaluated. (Note: A summary of this legislation regarding the use of scientifically-validated instructional materials appears in Course 2.)


According to Moats (1999), research should guide the teaching profession. Unfortunately, teachers are not adequately trained in research methodology in their pre-service programs. An interesting phenomenon occurs in teacher preparation programs. Undergraduate students are rarely required to take research methods or statistics courses. Contrast this with the situation of undergraduates in psychology. Psychology undergraduates are typically required to take research and statistics courses. The interesting aspect of this difference is that students in teacher preparation programs are highly likely to be accountable for the academic progress of students in their classrooms once they become teachers. In comparison, psychology students will likely be much less accountable for the progress of individuals in their charge (e.g., direct care services such as group homes, residential facilities). In other words, if we compare the responsibilities of education college students to psychology college students, the students who would be most in need of training in the scientific process (e.g., data-based decision making) would be those preparing to be teachers.


According to Kilpatrick (2003), approximately 80% of teachers have little to no background in the use and method of science. What is needed, then, is a training program that allows in-service teachers to learn about science. In other words, we need teachers to become consumers of science and to learn how to think critically about the vast amount of data emanating from real science and from what Park (2000) describes as “voodoo science.”



Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to:

·         Complete all five information sections showing a competent understanding of the material presented in each section.

·         Complete all five section examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.  You must obtain an overall score of 70% or higher, with no individual exam score below 50%, and successfully complete ALL writing assignments to pass this course.  *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was below 50%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 50%, making sure to also be achieving an overall exam score of a minimum 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.


Course Overview

Chapter 1: Introduction to Scientifically-based Research
This first chapter contains information on what scientifically-based research means and discusses the myths and misconceptions of science. This chapter will lay out the basic foundation of scientifically-based research that will be used as the basis for understanding the remaining sections. There will be discussion on the Reading Excellence Act and the impact of scientifically-based research on other professions.


Chapter 2: Constraint Levels, Validity, & Variability in Research 

This chapter will discuss the various types of research and the constraint levels in educational research. There will be information on the issues of reliability and validity in research and the variability that has been seen in educational research.

Chapter 3: Internal & External Validity 
The third chapter will deal exclusively with internal and external validity of educational research. This chapter focuses solely on these two issues due to their importance and a need for the issue or research validity to be clearly understood.


Chapter 4: Experimental Designs

This chapter will discuss quasi-experimental design, pre-experimental design, true experimental design, and single case design. It will discuss causal-comparatives and correlational research as well as qualitative research. The chapter will also discuss objectives and methodology.


Chapter 5: Putting It All Together

Chapter 5 wraps up the course by presenting information on replication and research synthesis. It will discuss evaluation instruments for Stage 1 of a Reading First program. The chapter will end with a general review and prepare the user for information to be presented in the second course of this series.



At the end of each course chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times.  Your last score will save, not the highest score. After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate.  However, this is not your final grade since your required writing assignments have not been reviewed.  Exceptionally written or poorly written required writing assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy in the course syllabus, will affect your grade.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.




Writing Assignments

All assignments are reviewed and may impact your final grade.  Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see course syllabus for policy), will affect your grade. Fifty percent of your grade is determined by your writing assignments, and your overall exam score determines the other fifty percent.  Refer to the Essay Grading Guidelines which were sent as an attachment with your original course link.


You should also refer to the Course Syllabus Addendum which was sent as an attachment with your original course link, to determine if you have any writing assignments in addition to the Critical Thinking Questions (CTQ) and Journal Article Summations (JAS).  If you do, the Essay Grading Guidelines will also apply.


1)         Critical Thinking Questions

      There are four CTQs that you are required to complete. You  will need to write a minimum of 500 words       (maximum 1,000) per essay. You  should explain how the information that you gained from the course will be       applied and clearly convey a strong understanding of the course content as it relates to each CTQ.  To view       the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the CTQ that you are ready to complete; this will bring       up a screen where you may enter your essay.  Prior to course submission, you may go back at any point to edit       your essay, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits.


            You must click SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.


2)         Journal Article Summations

      You are required to write, in your own words, a summary on a total of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal       articles (one article per summation), written by an author with a Ph.D. on topics related to this course (blogs,       abstracts, news articles or similar are not acceptable).  You may choose your topics by entering any of the Key       Words (click on the Key Words button) or any other words that pertain to the course, into a search engine of your           choice (Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.).  Choose a total of three relevant articles and write a thorough summary of            the information presented in each article (you must write a minimum of 200 words with a 400 word maximum      per JAS). Be sure to provide the URL or the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to         allow the instructor to access and review that article.  Please note, the citation of your article will not count         towards meeting your minimum word count.


      To write your summary, click on REQUIRED ESSAYS and choose the JAS that you would like to complete. A       writing program will automatically launch where you can write your summary. When you are ready to stop, click           SAVE.  Prior to course submission you may go back at any point to edit your summaries but you must be   certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this       assignment, please consult the HELP menu.


      You must click SAVE before you write another summary or move on to another part of the course.



Facilitator Description

Reading Fundamentals #1: An Introduction to Scientifically-based Research has been developed by a team of professionals with educational backgrounds in the areas of clinical psychology, direct reading, and phonetic instructional practices. Mick Jackson, the instructor of record, is a Behavioral Intervention Specialist with a Master's Degree in Special Education and Behavioral Theory and a minor in Reading Remediation.  He has 15 years’ combined experience in self-contained special education classrooms, resource rooms, and a hospital day treatment setting.  He has conducted oral seminars, presenting to school districts, teacher groups, and at educational conferences.  Please contact Professor Jackson if you have course content or examination questions.


Instructor Description

Karen Lea holds a Ph.D. in education. Dr. Lea has fifteen years’ experience teaching at the K-12 level and another fourteen years’ experience teaching education courses at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Currently she is a coordinator for a cadre of instructional developers and project manager for aerospace online training. Dr. Lea has been professionally published over fifteen times and has served on over a dozen panels and boards, including serving on the NCATE (CAEP) Board of Examiners.  Please contact Professor Jackson if you have course content or examination questions.


Contacting the Facilitator

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Jackson at or calling him at 800-313-6744 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other issues that involve the operation of the course.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.



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Park, R. (2000). Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud. New York: Oxford.


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Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


10/21/16 JN