Awards & Grants

ILA Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award

This is an award given annually for a dissertation completed in reading or literacy. Summaries of winning dissertations are published each year in Reading Research Quarterly. Dissertations in reading or related fields are eligible for the competition. Studies using any research approach (ethnographic, experimental, historical, survey, etc.) are encouraged. Each study is assessed in the light of this approach, the scholarly qualification of its report, and its significant contributions to knowledge within the reading field. Dissertations completed between May 2017 and May 2018 are eligible for the 2019 award year. (Previously published monographs are not eligible for this award). Applicants must be ILA members.

Sponsored by Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan

Deadline: June 1, 2020



Recent recipients


John Strong

John Strong

Lisa Domke—Finalist 1
Clarene Hight—Finalist 2
Brittany Frieson—Finalist 3
Jennifer Tarr—Finalist 4
Americo Amorim—Finalist 5



Courtney Hattan, Illinois State University, Normal
Prompting Rural Students’ Use of Background Knowledge and Experience to Support Comprehension of Unfamiliar Content
Completed dissertation for the University of Maryland, College Park, chaired by Dr. Patricia Alexander


Elena E. Forzani, Boston University, MA
How Well Can Students Evaluate Online Science Information? Contributions of Prior Knowledge, Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Offline Reading Ability


Laura Northrop, Cleveland State University
Breaking the Cycle: Cumulative Disadvantage in Literacy


Julie Learned, University at Albany, State University of New York
"Feeling Like I'm Slow Because I'm in This Class": Secondary School Contexts and the Identification and Construction of Struggling Readers


Meghan Liebfreund, Towson University
Success with Informational Text Comprehension: An Examination of Underlying Factors


For additional information, contact