Meg Mechelke

Meg Mechelke, Undergraduate student, English and creative writing, theatre arts

Bridges creative writing and reading research

“I believe Meg is having a big impact on the future of literacy instruction…Meg’s work is directly impacting the teaching of children as they are able to learn reading skills in this new way.” – Sean Thompson, communications specialist, Iowa Reading Research Center

Hometown: Sartell, Minnesota

Faculty mentor/advisor: For the purposes of my research with the Iowa Reading Research Center, Deborah Reed, professor and former director of the Iowa Reading Research Center, is the primary faculty investigator and lead developer of Varied Practice Reading. I work directly with staff members Sean Thompson, Nicole DeSalle, and Kate Will.

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Theatre arts & creative writing majors, Spanish minor (December 2022 graduation)

Please describe your research: Varied Practice Reading is an instructional method for teaching reading skills developed by former Iowa Reading Research Center Director Deborah Reed and center staff. Students in grades 1-8 read four different passages one time each. Each of the four passages contains around 85% of the same words and meet specific reading level and length requirements; our middle grades passages also include either science- or social studies-based content. As the lead student writer on the program, I work with a team of undergraduate writers to develop these passages and to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the students who encounter them.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? When you look at the statistics surrounding adult literacy in the United States, you would likely be surprised to see how many adults are not proficient in reading and writing. These skills are essential to everyday tasks, from job hunting to reading the newspaper to following a recipe. With Varied Practice Reading, young students are better equipped to learn reading fluency and other literacy skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

How soon after starting at the University did you start research? I was hired by the Iowa Reading Research Center in January of my first year and promoted to lead student writer the following autumn.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at Iowa? The unique constraints of VPR writing have encouraged me to become more flexible and resilient in my work. In addition, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of brilliant individuals who have helped me to strengthen not only my writing skills, but also my ability to effectively communicate, navigate complex topics, and successfully integrate feedback.

What are your career goals following graduation? In addition to my work at the IRRC, I am active in the university’s theatre department. I plan to pursue a career in theatre after graduation, ideally in new play development. I also have a strong educational theatre background, which intersects a great deal with my work at the IRRC, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that too lies somewhere in my future.

Banner location: Downtown—Linn St., in front of Formosa