Carol McDonald Connor

Picture of Carol McDonald Connor
Chancellor's Professor
School of Education
Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2002, Language, Literacy & Culture, Special Education
Phone: (949) 824-5920
Fax: (949) 824-9103
University of California, Irvine
3453 Education
Mail Code: 5500
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Reading Comprehension, Executive Function, Behavioral Regulation Development, Technology and Assessment
Academic Distinctions
2016 Fellow of the American Psychological Association
2015 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association
2013 Innovators Award, Florida State University
2010 Developing Scholar, Florida State University
2009 Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Early Career Contribution Award
2007 Recipient of the 2006 President’s Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
2006 Dina Feitelson Research Award for Beyond the Reading Wars: Exploring the Effect of Child-Instruction Interactions on Growth in Early Reading
Research Abstract
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.
Connor, C. M., Mazzocco, M. M. M., Kurz, T., Crowe, E. C., Tighe, E. L., Wood, T. S., & Morrison, F. J. (in press). Using Assessment to Individualize Early Mathematics Instruction. Journal of School Psychology.

Connor, C. M. (in Press). Using Technology and Assessment to Personalize Instruction: Preventing Reading Problems. Prevention Science.

Al Otaiba, S., Crowe, E. C., Herbert, M., & Connor, C. M. (in press). Promise and Feasibility of Teaching Expository Text Structure: A Primary Grade Pilot Study. Reading and Writing.

Connor, C. M., Dombek, J., Crowe, E. C., Spencer, M., Tighe, E. L., Coffinger, S., . . . Petscher, Y. (2017). Acquiring science and social studies knowledge in kindergarten through fourth grade: Conceptualization, design, implementation, and efficacy testing of content-area literacy instruction (CALI). Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(3), 301-320. doi:10.1037/edu0000128 NIHMSID: NIHMS818550

Johnson, L., Terry, N. P., Connor, C. M., & Thomas-Tate, S. (2017). The effects of dialect awareness instruction on nonmainstream American English speakers. Reading and Writing. doi:10.1007/s11145-017-9764-y

Connor, C. M. (2017). Commentary on the Special Issue on Instructional Coaching Models: Common Elements of Effective Coaching Models. Theory into Practice, 56(1), 78-83. doi:10.1080/00405841.2016.1274575

Katschak, M. P., Connor, C. M., & Dombek, J. L. (2017). Enacted Reading Comprehension: Using bodily movement to aid the comprehension of abstract text content. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169711. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169711

Connor, C. M., & Morrison, F. J. (2016). Individualizing Student Instruction in Reading. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 54-61. doi:10.1177/2372732215624931
Connor, C. M. (2016). A lattice model

Kaschak MP, Connor CM, Dombek JL (2017) Enacted Reading Comprehension: Using Bodily Movement to Aid the Comprehension of Abstract Text Content. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169711. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169711

Day, S. G., Connor, C. M., & McClelland, M. M. (in press). Children's self-regulation and literacy: the impact of first grade classroom environment. Journal of School Psychology.

Katschak, M. Dombek, J. & Connor, CM (in press) Enacted Reading Comprehension: Using Bodily Movement to Aid the Comprehension of Abstract Text Content. PLOS PONE-D-16-36185R2

Connor, C. M. (2016). A lattice model of reading comprehension. Child Development Perspectives, 10(4), 269-274. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12200

Connor, C. M., Day, S. L., Phillips, B., Sparapani, N., Ingebrand, S. W., McLean, L., . . . Kaschak, M. P. (2016). Reciprocal Effects of Self-Regulation, Semantic Knowledge, and Reading Comprehension in Early Elementary School. Child Development, 87(6), 1813-1824. doi:10.1111/cdev.12570

Connor, C. M., Dombek, J., Crowe, E. C., Spencer, M., Tighe, E. L., Coffinger, S., . . . Petscher, Y. (2016). Acquiring Science and Social Studies Knowledge in Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade: Conceptualization, Design, Implementation, and Efficacy Testing of Content-Area Literacy Instruction (CALI). Journal of Educational Psychology, No Pagination Specified. doi:10.1037/edu0000128

Day, S. L., & Connor, C. M. (2016). Examining the relations between self-regulation and achievement in third-grade students. Assessment for Effective Intervention. doi:10.1177/1534508416670367

Sparapani, N., Connor, C. M., Day, S., Wood, T., Ingebrand, S., McLean, L., & Phillips, B. (2016) Profiles of foundational learning skills among first graders. Learning and Individual Differences.

Al Otaiba, S., Folsom, J. S., Wanzek, J., Greulich, L., Wasche, J., Schatschneider, C., & Connor, C. M. (2016). Professional development to differentiate kindergarten Tier 1 instruction: Can already effective teachers improve student outcomes by differentiating Tier 1 instruction? Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties., 32(5), 454-476. doi:

Connor, C. M., Radach, R., Vorstius, C., Day, S. L., McLean, L., & Morrison, F. J. (2015). Individual Differences in Fifth Graders’ Literacy and Academic Language Predict Comprehension Monitoring Development: An Eye-Movement Study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19(2), 114-134. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2014.943905

Terry, N.P., Connor, C.M., Johnson, L., Stuckey, A., & Tani, N. (2016). Dialect variation, dialect-shifting, and reading comprehension in second grade. Reading and Writing, 29(2), 267-295. DOI:10.1007/s11145-015-9593-9

Toste, J. R., Heath, N. L., Connor, C. M., & Peng, P. (2015). Reconceptualizing Teacher-Student Relationships: Applicability of the Working Alliance within Classroom Contexts. The Elementary School Journal, 116(1), 30-48. doi: 10.1086/683110

McLean, L., & Connor, C. M. (2015). Depressive Symptoms in Third-Grade Teachers: Relations to Classroom Quality and Student Achievement. Child Development, n/a-n/a. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12344

Lee Webb, M.-y., Lederberg, A. R., Branum-Martin, L., & Connor, C. M. (2015). Evaluating the Structure of Early English Literacy Skills in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. doi: 10.1093/deafed/env024

Connor, C. M. (2014). Individualizing teaching in beginning reading. Better: Evidence-based Education, Autumn, 4-7.

Connor, C. M., Spencer, M., Day, S. L., Giuliani, S., Ingebrand, S. W., McLean, L., & Morrison, F. J. (2014). Capturing the Complexity: Content, Type, and Amount of Instruction and Quality of the Classroom Learning Environment Synergistically Predict Third Graders’ Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(3), 762-778. doi: 10.1037/a0035921

Connor, C., Phillips, B., Kaschak, M., Apel, K., Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., . . . Lonigan, C. (2014). Comprehension Tools for Teachers: Reading for Understanding from Prekindergarten Through Fourth Grade. Educational Psychology Review, 26(3), 379-401. doi: 10.1007/s10648-014-9267-1

Al Otaiba, S., Connor, C. M., Folsom, J. S., Wanzek, J., Greulich, L., Schatschneider, C., & Wagner, R. K. (2014). To wait in Tier 1 or intervene immediately: A randomized experiment examining first-grade response to intervention in reading. Exceptional Children, 81(1), 11-27. doi:10.1177/0014402914532234

Guo, Y., Sun, S., Breit-Smith, A., Morrison, F. J., & Connor, C. M. (2014). Behavioral Engagement and Reading Achievement in Elementary-School-Age Children: A Longitudinal Cross-Lagged Analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology. doi:

Lederberg, A. R., Miller, E. M., Easterbrooks, S. R., & Connor, C. M. (2014). Foundations for Literacy: An early literacy intervention for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Advance access, 1-18. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enu022

Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Fishman, B., Crowe, E. C., Al Otaiba, S., & Schatschneider, C. (2013). A longitudinal cluster-randomized controlled study on the accumulating effects of individualized literacy instruction on students’ reading from first through third grade. Psychological Science, 24, 1408-1419. PMCID: PMC4737583

Connor, Carol M. (2013). Commentary on Two Classroom Observation Systems: Moving Toward a Shared Understanding of Effective Teaching. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(4), 342-346. doi: 10.1037/spq0000045

Skibbe, Lori E., Hindman, Annemarie H., Connor, Carol M., Housey, Michelle, & Morrison, Frederick J. (2013). Relative Contributions of Prekindergarten and Kindergarten to Children's Literacy and Mathematics Skills. Early Education & Development, 24(5), 687-703. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2012.712888

Tighe, E. L., Barnes, A. E., Connor, C. M., & Steadman, S. C. (2013). Defining Success in Adult Basic Education Settings: Multiple Stakeholders, Multiple Perspectives. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(4), 415-435. doi: 10.1002/rrq.57
Principal Investigator: Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students (OLOS) Early Learning Observation System. Funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Science: 2016-2021
Co-Investigator: California Science-based Innovation in Learning (SIL) Center, Funded by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) Multicampus Research Programs and Initiative (MRPI): 2017-2019
Principal Investigator: Making Individualized Literacy Instruction Available to All Teachers: Adapting the Assessment to Instruction (A2i) Software for Multiple Real-World Contexts. Funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Science: 2013-2017
Principal Investigator: Exploring Effective Reading Comprehension Instruction: Classroom Practice, Teacher, and Student Characteristics, Funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Science, Grant: 2013-2017
Principal Investigator with Christopher Lonigan: Reading for Understanding Research Initiative: Pre-kindergarten through 5th Grade. US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences Grant: 2010-2017
Co-Principal Investigator: Predicting and Preventing the Development of Learning Disabilities (renewal). PI on Learning Disabilities in Context. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Center PI: Richard Wagner. Learning Disabilities Multidisciplinary Research Center Grant: 2012-2017
Co-Investigator, Center for Literacy and Deafness, PI: Amy Lederberg, Georgia State University, funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Science: 2012-2017
Co-Investigator: Exploring Individual Differences in Response to Intervention (PI: Hart), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant: 2013-2016
Other Experience
Arizona State University Department of Psychology 2012—2015
Senior Research Scientist
Institute for the Science of Teaching & Learning, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College 2012—2015
Distinguished Research Associate, Florida Center for Reading Research
Florida State University 2012—2017
Associate Professor
Florida State University 2008—2012
Assistant Professor
Florida State University College of Education 2004—2008
Research Centers
“Creating Opportunity for Children Living in Poverty Through Effective Educational Interventions” - UC Irvine High Impact Hire Initiative
Individualizing Student Instruction (iSi)
Last updated