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Reading to learn pedagogy and students' disciplinary reading: An example from social science subjects in years five and twelve
Uppsala University.
Municipality of Ovanåker.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2962-803X
Uppsala University.
Uppsala University.
2016 (English)In: ECER 2016: Leading Education : The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers. Dublin 22-26/8 2016, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to explore how different approaches to working with disciplinary reading result in different reading practices, which to various degrees scaffold reading comprehension and development of reading literacy. More specifically, the use of the literacy pedagogy Reading to Learn is compared with more traditional teaching in Sweden.

Reading to learn (R2L) is a literacy pedagogy emphasising reading. The R2L-pedagogy has a functional perspective and integrates the teaching of reading across the curriculum at all levels of school and beyond (Rose & Martin 2012). The pedagogy follows a cyclic model with different steps. The ideological idea is to set up students to succeed in their reading, by preparing them step by step in the reading task. Therefore the teaching cycle moves from guided collective work towards individual performance.

Several programme reports indicate that R2L has a positive effect on students reading performance. However, despite the fact that R2L has been used in several countries for over a decade, relatively few independent scientific studies have been performed where reading practices and students’ reading literacy in R2L classrooms are in focus. Therefore this study focuses on the impact of R2L, as interpreted and implemented by subject teachers, on reading literacy activities and students’ disciplinary reading in two social science classrooms with two different teachers. Of specific interest are the following research questions:

  • How can the reading practices be described in terms of overall sequential organisation of reading activities?
  • How can text-related discussions within the reading practices be described in term of dialogical potential and students’ text reception?

Results from the analyses will furthermore be discussed with regard to possible effects on students’ reading comprehension.

Theoretically, the study draws on classroom discourse analysis and theories on reading, as found within systemic functional theory and reception theory. Of importance for the discussion is also the concept of dialogicity, used in accordance with Nystrand (1997) building on a Bakhtinian legacy. Within systemic functional theory, language is considered to be a social semiotic system where language both creates and expresses meaning, and enables different choices for expressing meaning (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004). We use the notion of curriculum genre (Christie 2002) which builds on systemic functional theory and refers to teaching sequences as staged, goal oriented processes where each stage or element is said to have a functional significance by organising and shaping meaning. Reception theory describes the meeting between the reader and the text (Langer 1995; Rosenblatt 1982). The concept of text movability which builds on reception theory is used to describe how participants discuss various dimensions of texts. Varied text movability is here seen as positive for students’ reading literacy development (e.g. Liberg et al. 2010). From a dialogical standpoint, dialogue is considered the base for all communication and a prerequisite for active understanding (Bakhtin 1981, p. 282). Dialogically organised instruction involves for example discussion, knowledge emerging from interaction of voices, and recognition of students’ experiences and interpretations as sources of knowledge. Monologically organised instruction is on the other hand signified by for instance recitation, and valuing teacher and textbooks as the only sources of knowledge (Nystrand 1997, p. 19).

Method

In this study, material from four student groups in three schools was analysed. Two teachers’ use of R2L while working with disciplinary texts in social science subjects was observed during one term, in year five (11 year-old students, ) and in year three in upper secondary school (18 year-old students). Data was also collected from two control groups with other teachers working with reading in social sciences. The lessons were audio- and video recorded. Although not the main focus for the present study, a reading comprehension test was also performed at the beginning and at the end of the study.To describe the reading practices and thus answer the first research question, the observations were analysed in terms of the sequencing of activities surrounding reading (Christie 1998). This was analysed with regard to contextualisation, how the subject field is built up, textualisation, how the reading is supported, the reading per se, the evaluation/follow-up of the reading, and whether the function of the reading is made explicit (cf. af Geijerstam 2006, p. 47f).To answer the second research question, analyses of text movability within text-related classroom discussion were made. Text movability entails three main ways of talking about texts, specified through various dimensions. Text-based dimensions include eliciting main content, making inferences, abstracting/generalising from content, and taking a critical stand. Associative dimensions include relating text content to personal experiences, specialised knowledge or other texts. Interactive dimensions include talking about text type, text function, sender and receiver roles. These analyses reveal how teachers and students approach text content in the classroom discourse. Analyses of text movability was also related to aspects of dialogicity in the classroom discourse, e.g. how the teacher develops and builds on what is said in the classroom, and whether different voices are acknowledged and valued in discussion.

Expected Outcomes

Preliminary findings indicate similarities as well as differences between the two R2L-groups and the control groups, but also between the two R2L groups in different grades. In upper secondary school, in both the R2L-group and the control group, the text was contextualised, and the reading supported by a joint close-reading of the text. However, differences could be noted in terms of text movability and dialogical potential. In the R2L group all three types of text movability were revealed. However, the dialogicity was very restricted, and almost only the teacher talked about the text. The control group showed clearly more dialogicity as text segments were read and discussed in class. There both students and the teacher showed wide text-based and associative text movability, but no interactive movability since text type, text function etc. were not commented on. In the year five R2L-class the sequencing of activities was somewhat different both from its year five control group and the R2L-group in upper secondary school. A similar pattern as in upper secondary school concerning text movability was found, as all three types were used. However, in the year five R2L-class the level of dialogicity was generally high and all students participated. In the control-class, text movability was less varied, mainly associative but also text-based. The dialogical potential was limited in comparison with the R2L-group. In sum, findings indicate that the text activities in the R2L classrooms open up for a more varied text movability, which, in turn, suggests a larger potential for reading comprehension and development of reading literacy. However, when adding the level of dialogicity, the picture changes depending on to what extent students are given room to express their reception of the text and thereby contributing to an active understanding of text in a dialogical classroom.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Content area reading, disciplinary literacy, reading development, reading to learn, social science subjects
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61101OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-61101DiVA: diva2:1078782
Conference
ECER 2016 “Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers” Dublin 22-26/8 2016
Available from: 2016-04-12 Created: 2017-03-06 Last updated: 2017-03-06Bibliographically approved

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