iSTART: A Web-Based Tutor That Teaches Self-Explanation and Metacognitive Reading Strategies

Danielle S. McNamara, Tenaha O’Reilly, Michael Rowe, Chutima Boonthum, Irwin Levinstein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The goal of this chapter is to describe an automated tutoring system called iSTART (Interactive Strategy Trainer for Active Reading and Thinking), which is designed to provide reading strategy instruction to adolescent students. The chapter is organized into six sections that broadly cover the history and future development of iSTART. In the first section, we provide the motivation for creating reading strategy interventions. Then we describe Self-Explanation Reading Training (SERT; McNamara, 2004b) and the empirical findings on the human-delivered strategy intervention that served as the impetus for creating iSTART. Next, we describe the basic characteristics of iSTART, including the overall structure of the program and the computational feedback system. We then describe our field studies on the effectives of the system in both college and high school settings and provide an analysis of the relationship between self-explanation quality and comprehension performance. In the section after that, we discuss the role of metacognition within the system and how metacognitive processes are encouraged implicitly through the structure of the program. Finally, we discuss the limitations of the current system and our future plans for improving iSTART and scaling up the program so that it can be easily incorporated into large school settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReading Comprehension Strategies
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Interventions, and Technologies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781136679292
ISBN (Print)9780203810033
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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