Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Partnerships for International
Research and Education

Carol Connor

Carol Connor
Professor, School of Education
Carol Connor

Biography:

My research focuses on examining the links between children’s language, cognitive, social-emotional, and literacy and mathematics development from preschool through the elementary grades. Understanding these links may illuminate reasons for the perplexing difficulties children who are atypical and diverse learners have developing basic and advanced reading, writing, and math skills. Most recently, my research interests have focused on children’s learning in the classroom – from preschool through fifth grade – with particular focus on reading comprehension and mathematics, children living in poverty, and how technology might improve the instruction they receive. This line of research is revealing how the effectiveness of specific instructional activities depends on the language, self-regulation, and reading or math skills children bring with them to school; these child-by-instruction interaction effects are evident as early as preschool and continue at least through third grade for a number of child language, literacy, and math outcomes. I am currently the principal investigator conducting a series of basic research studies and randomized controlled field trials investigating the reasons children fail to achieve proficient reading comprehension and math skills and the causal implications of child-by-instruction interaction effects on student achievement, specifically investigating the effect of individualizing language arts, math, social studies, and science instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade based on students’ language and early reading skills. These multidisciplinary projects include experts in developmental and cognitive psychology, education, learning sciences, and computer science. Results reveal that instruction that takes into account children’s individual differences generally leads to stronger student literacy, math, and cognitive regulation (e.g., attention, effortful control) outcomes. As part of this research, I have led the development and efficacy evaluation of the Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) online technology, which uses computer algorithms to translate assessment results to recommendations for child-specific amounts and types of literacy instruction (US Patent No. 8506304), the Content Area Literacy Instruction (CALI) intervention for kindergarten through fourth grade, Individualized Student Instruction in Math (ISI-Math), as well as the Word Knowledge e-book, that is designed to improve third through fifth-graders’ word knowledge and comprehension monitoring. I also conduct research focusing on the language and literacy development of profoundly deaf children including those who use cochlear implants and the impact of non-mainstream dialect use, such as African American English, on children’s literacy development.