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Anna Steenberg Gellert

Anna Steenberg Gellert

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

Reading disabilities, reading development, vocabulary acquistion, second language learning, language testing, dynamic assessment

Current research

1. Vocabulary instruction and assessment

330 Danish fifth-graders with relatively poor vocabulary were assigned to one of three conditions: 1) instruction in the morphological structure of words to develop a morphological strategy for comprehending unfamiliar words during text reading; 2) direct instruction in meanings of semantically related words in combination with instruction in deriving word meanings from context during reading; 3) control condition. Each intervention was delivered in 24 sessions with small groups. Tests of word knowledge and text comprehension were administered before and after intervention to assess short-term effects. Follow-up data will be collected nine months after intervention to assess long-term instructional effects. 

The project is headed by assoc. prof. Anna Steenberg Gellert (University of Copenhagen) and is implemented in collaboration with assoc. prof. Elisabeth Arnbak (Danish School of Education, Aarhus University) and professor Carsten Elbro (University of Copenhagen).

  • Gellert, A. S. & Elbro, C. (2013). Do experimental measures of word learning predict vocabulary development over time? Learning and Individual Differences, 26, 1-8. 
2. Early identification of children at risk of reading disabilities

Preferably, children at risk of reading disabilities should be identified before the onset of formal reading instruction, in order to provide early intervention and avoid delays and loss of motivation. However, traditional early test batteries have been found to be quite inaccurate. Therefore, there is a need for research to improve early testing instruments. One possibility is to include dynamic tests developed to assess children’s ability to learn, rather than just their present knowledge and skills. The aim of a recent longitudinal Danish study was to investigate whether children’s performance in dynamic tests can enhance the prediction of later reading difficulties over and above traditional predictors in kindergarten. We followed 158 children from kindergarten (2012) to the end of second grade (2015). We administered traditional as well as experimental dynamic tests to these children. We found that a dynamic test of decoding administered before the onset of formal reading instruction added significantly to the prediction of reading disabilities at the end of Grade 2 after rigorous control for traditional kindergarten predictors.

The project was headed by assoc. prof. Anna Steenberg Gellert (University of Copenhagen) and was implemented in collaboration with professor Carsten Elbro (University of Copenhagen). The project was funded by the Danish foundation Trygfonden and the Danish Ministry of Education.

  • Gellert, A. S. & Elbro, C. (2017). Try a little bit of teaching. A dynamic assessment of decoding as a kindergarten predictor of word reading difficulties at the end of Grade 1. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(4), 277-291.
  • Gellert, A. S. & Elbro, C. (2017). Does a dynamic test of phonological awareness predict early reading difficulties? A longitudinal study from kindergarten through Grade 1. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(3), 227-237.
  • Elbro, C., Daugaard, H. T. & Gellert, A. S. (2012). Dyslexia in a second language? A dynamic test of reading acquisition may provide a fair answer. Annals of Dyslexia, 62(3), 172-185.

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