Researchers Translating the Science of Reading: Widening the Lens of Translational Science Through Team Science

May 18, 2021

Terry, N. P., Petscher, Y., Gaab, N., & Hart, S. (2021). Researchers translating the science of reading: Widening the lens of translational science through team science. The Reading League Journal2(1), 46.


Translation of the science of reading into effective classroom practice and improved reading achievement has been difficult. There is evident when we consider that despite decades of scientific research of how reading develops, many children and adolescents across the country read below expected levels.

Some of the proposed reasons for why translating reading research to reading practice is so difficult have centered on professors in colleges and universities. The public has assumed that some professors do not understand the realities of classrooms settings because they are not engaged with teachers and schools, they are not interested in solving this problem because it is not their priority, or worse, they contribute to the translation problem because their ideologies get in the way of preparing teachers to use evidence-based practices in P-12 schools. In truth, university professors contribute to the science of reading in many different ways. For example, some engage in basic science by studying how the brain learns to read or the genetic influence of reading development. Others engage in applied science, working directly with the community and schools to better the implementation of reading instruction in authentic classroom settings. Because of the broad range of work professors engage in, their roles are often misunderstood. Included among the many misunderstandings are beliefs that professors can teach whatever they want, spend the majority of their time teaching undergraduate students, or, our favorite, have summers off. However, the realities of the job are much more complicated, especially when it comes to the translation of scientific evidence to the public. Three misunderstandings related to the roles of university professors are relevant to translating the science of reading in a way that leads to effective practice and improved student achievement in schools.

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