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Secondary teachers' perspectives on adolescent content area reading Allman, Ruth

Abstract

This cross-sectional survey study was designed to investigate secondary teachers' beliefs, attitudes and reported practices related to content area reading and strategy instruction. The survey was conducted with 119 teacher leaders in eighteen secondary schools in a large multicultural school district in Western Canada during the spring of 2004. Respondents were selected because of their subject area expertise and leadership role in the field. Key findings were that respondents: (a) identified struggling readers in their classes as predominately male and typically in grades 8-10; (b) indicated that students struggled with comprehension and critical reading skills; (c) identified external factors as hindrances to students' successful literacy development; (d) indicated inadequate knowledge of content area reading instructional strategies; (e) reported a limited range of assessment tools used; and (f) identified obstacles related to, and a need for, programs and professional development that address the needs of struggling readers. It is concluded that there are three key areas of knowledge that teachers need in order to help students read content area materials: (a) knowledge of assessment tools that will help them identify areas in which their students struggle; (b) knowledge of content reading strategies that are integrated into disciplinary teaching, together with formative assessment that will support instructional decision-making; and (c) long-term and situated professional development programs in content area reading and strategy instruction that are sensitive to the context of their professional lives and that facilitate learning communities in schools.

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