Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Amy Seely Flint, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Julie Rainer Dangel, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Diane Truscott, Ph. D.

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Zoss, Ph. D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

LINKS AND DISCONNECTS BETWEEN THIRD GRADE TEACHERS’ BELIEFS, KNOWLEDGE, AND PRACTICES REGARDING NONFICTION READING COMPREHENSION INSTRUCTION FOR STRUGGLING READERS

by

Nicole P. Maxwell

In the current era of accountability, U. S. teachers face strict demands from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ensure that all students’ reading achievement meets the requirements of their respective grade levels (Coburn, Pearson, & Woulfin, 2011). These demands are especially stressful when teachers have students who struggle with reading. Regrettably, many students grapple with reading difficulties, particularly with comprehending fiction and nonfiction texts (Allington, 2011).

The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and understandings three third grade teachers held concerning nonfiction reading comprehension instruction for struggling readers and how these beliefs and knowledge influenced their pedagogical practices. This qualitative, interpretive case study examined their beliefs using the theoretical lenses of epistemology (Crotty, 2007; Cunningham & Fitzgerald, 1996; Dillon, O’Brien, & Heilman, 2004; Magrini, 2009), social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978), transactional theory of reading (Rosenblatt, 1994), and the sociocognitive interactive model of reading (Ruddell & Unrau, 2004). The following research questions guided this inquiry: (1) How do third grade teachers support struggling readers when navigating nonfiction texts? (2) What are these third grade teachers’ beliefs and understandings about struggling readers? (3) How do these beliefs influence the third grade teachers’ pedagogical practices with struggling readers? Data collection lasted for five months and involved interviews, classroom observations, teacher debriefs, and the collection of artifacts, including DeFord’s (1985) Theoretical Orientation to Reading Profile (TORP). Data analysis was conducted using the constant comparative approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The findings in this study revealed links and disconnects between the accommodations teachers believed their struggling readers needed and what they actually provided their struggling readers. These teachers faced pressures of time constraints and a focus on testing, which affected their pedagogical practices. Furthermore, they demonstrated a reliance on content area textbooks and dissatisfaction with the accessibility of nonfiction materials. These findings highlight the need for pre-service and in-service teachers to have access to quality nonfiction materials to use in the classroom and instruction on how to provide nonfiction comprehension instruction to their struggling readers.

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