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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA

ORCA Project Overview

Assessing Online Reading Comprehension: The ORCA Project

Online reading comprehension requires additional skills, beyond those required during offline reading comprehension (Coiro & Dobler, 2007; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004; Mayer, 2008; RAND, 2002; Strømsø, in press). Developing online reading comprehension skills is increasingly important for any nation determined to lead a global information economy (Rouet, 2006). In order to develop these skills, we require assessment instruments for online reading comprehension that are both psychometrically sound and practical (Leu, et. al, 2008). Using a systematic, iterative process, the Online Reading Comprehension Assessment (ORCA) Project will initiate this work. It will:

  1. develop three different types of valid and reliable assessments to measure online reading comprehension;
  2. evaluate the internal assessment characteristics for each instrument type to inform decisions about which is most useful and practical for schools; and
  3. estimate both the utility and practicality of each instrument in the eyes of key decision makers: teachers, school administrators, and Chief State School Officers.

The ORCA Project will be based on: a partnership with three states engaged in important literacy and technology integration initiatives within their schools (Maine, North Carolina, and Connecticut) and with the New England and Islands Educational Research Lab. It will be led by a research team with expertise in multiple areas essential to developing online reading comprehension assessments: theory development, instruction, research design, measurement, and statistical analysis. In addition, the work will be regularly informed by a Scientific Review Board, consisting of leading researchers in reading comprehension, assessment, and science education. Finally, an interactive, online site will be developed to both disseminate ongoing results and invite additional insights and suggestions from the research community as the work unfolds.



Coiro, J., & Dobler, E. (2007). Exploring the comprehension strategies used by sixth-grade skilled readers as they search for and locate information on the Internet. Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 214–257. doi:10.1598/RRQ.42.2.2

Leu, D. J., Jr., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Hartman, D. K., Henry, L. A., & Reinking, D. (2008). Research on instruction and assessment of the new literacies of online reading comprehension. In C. C. Block, S. Parris, and P. Afflerbach, (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices. (pp. 321–346). New York: Guilford Press. [Google Books]

Leu, D. J., Jr., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Cammack, D. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other ICT. In R. B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, Fifth Edition (1568–1611). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. [PDF /]

Mayer, R. (2008). Multimedia literacy. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, D. Leu, & C. Lankshear (Eds.). Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp. 359–376). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. [Google Books]

RAND Reading Study Group. [RRSG]. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: Rand. [PDF / RAND Corporation]

Rouet, J.-F. (2006). The skills of document use: From text comprehension to Web-based learning. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ. [Google Books]