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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Sara L. Norton-Ejnik
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Teaching Reading in the Secondary Content Area Classroom: Teacher Attitudes and Predictors
Dr. Patricia Reeves, Chair
Dr. Walter Burt
Dr. Joseph Lubig
Date: Friday, December 10, 2010 10:00 a.m. to Noon
3208 Sangren Hall
Strategic teaching of reading occurs at the elementary level, and students are expected to “read to learn” once they enter high school. The majority of the nation’s secondary students do not have all the requisite skills to read and learn from high school texts and materials, and even drop-out rates have been attributed to students’ inability to keep pace with the literacy skills demanded by the secondary curriculum. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation now mandates secondary school reading initiatives, from high stakes testing to remediation. Despite the national focus on secondary reading, teachers in America’s secondary schools are not teaching the skills and strategies necessary for their students to grow as readers and learn from what they read (ACT, 2007; Biancarosa & Snow, 2004).
The study quantified Michigan’s secondary content area teachers’ attitudes toward teaching reading and examined the relationship between those attitudes and predictor variables of content area, level/type of training in teaching reading, degree level, and degree of learner centeredness. Data were collected from 191 male and female respondents via email link to a survey using the Otto Smita Inventory (OSI) Scale to measure teacher attitudes toward teaching reading and a portion of the Learner Centered Battery (LCB) Scale to measure the respondents’ learner-centeredness. Teacher respondents had generally positive attitudes toward teaching reading. Math and science respondents had significantly lower attitude scores than English teachers. Post-bachelors’ training/education correlated positively with teacher attitudes toward teaching reading. A positive relationship existed between respondents’ learner centered beliefs and their attitudes toward teaching content area reading. The data showed a negative relationship between non-learner centered beliefs and the respondents score on the OSI. Both correlations were significant at the .01 level.
According to the data, the more learner centered a teacher, the more positive her attitude toward content area reading instruction. Conversely, the stronger a teacher’s non-learner centered beliefs, the more negative her attitude toward content area reading instruction. The findings from this study provide important insights for designing inservice or post-bachelors training programs to create learner-centered belief systems and positive attitudes toward teaching content area instruction.