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Attitudes of Ontario secondary school teachers towards teaching of reading in Ontario secondary schools Dahl, Thomas Clifford

Abstract

In the past decade, a growing interest in high school reading and reading instruction has developed in North America. In the United States, this interest has been reflected in increased publication of literature on reading, in research, and in the recognition among teachers of the need for high school reading programs. There is a growing acceptance of the basic principle that all teachers should teach, reading to students at all levels of ability. However, high school reading programs still occur infrequently, and most teachers lack the training and knowledge to teach reading skills. The lack of Canadian literature on high school reading reduces the possibilities of assessing Canadian reading programs. In Ontario, literature and research are almost non-existent, and little information is available on the status of high school reading. The purpose of this study was to survey the attitudes of Ontario secondary school teachers towards teaching reading in Ontario high schools. The survey sought information on whether or not teachers felt that their students needed reading instruction, and tested teachers' knowledge of methods, responsibilities, and theories of high school reading instruction. Information was also sought on the influence upon attitudes of such variables as sex of teachers, length of teaching experience, experience teaching in elementary-schools, subjects taught, and teaching locale. A questionnaire was designed, tested in a pilot study, and refined. Questionnaire items, derived from current literature on reading instruction, were accompanied by Likert-type attitude scales. Questionnaires were mailed to 2,500 randomly selected subjects in Ontario. The return of l,66l questionnaires provided a 5 per cent sample of Ontario secondary school teachers. Treatment of data included the use of factor analyses, regression equations, univariate analyses of variance of means, t-tests for significant differences of means, and univariate frequency distributions. More than 80 per cent of respondents to the questionnaire agreed that their students needed reading instruction. Approximately half of the respondents said their schools offered some form of reading instruction. However, less than one-eighth of the respondents had received training in teaching reading. A hypothesis that Ontario high school teachers are aware of the methods, theories, and responsibility of reading instruction was rejected in nine of fifteen tests. Most respondents appeared to be familiar with, general theories of reading instruction. However, few recognized their responsibility for teaching reading, and few appeared to know how to teach reading skills. There appeared to be no real differences in attitudes between male and female teachers. Mo apparent difference of attitude was found between teachers with prior elementary teaching experience, and those with secondary school experience .Differences of teaching locale, subjects taught, or length of teaching experience did not appear to be influences on general attitudes towards reading. However, some differences were noted where specific topics were discussed. There appeared to be a need for reading programs in Ontario high schools, but there was uncertainty about how this need was being met. An assessment of the status of reading in Ontario high schools seemed warranted. There appeared also to be an immediate need for programs by which to prepare teachers for the teaching of reading skills.

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