Changing the Attitudes of Pre-Service Teachers toward Content Literacy Strategies

Article excerpt

The purpose of this research was to study the impact of an adolescent literacy education course on content area education students' attitudes toward implementing adolescent literacy strategies within their content lessons. Longitudinal data were gathered over five years and then analyzed. The researcher documented changes in the attitudes of the education students toward implementing literacy strategies within their content areas using a pre/post format of the "Pre-service Teachers' Perception/Attitude Survey." A one-way repeated-measures ANOVA tested the effects of the semester-long experience of 250 education students over a five year period. The main effect revealed a significant impact on the post attitude mean of the attitude survey. A one-way ANOVA conducted within each of the four content areas of math, science, history and English yielded significant results pre to post. However, post-hoe tests found no significant differences among the four groups. Further investigation is being made into the actual use of literacy strategies in the classroom when the education students begin their teaching careers.

Keywords: adolescent, literacy, higher education, pre-service teachers', and attitudes

**********

A recent survey of literacy research concluded that emphasizing content literacy was vital to adolescents' comprehension of core content subjects (Wilson, Grisham, & Smetana, 2009). While adolescent literacy has been documented as an area for increased attention nationally (Draper, 2008; Richardson, 2008), a noted obstacle to accomplishing this goal has been the attitudes of content-area teachers toward implementing literacy strategies within the secondary classroom. Content teachers reported that they felt inadequate and uncomfortable implementing literacy strategies (Park & Osborne, 2006). One solution to this dilemma is to adequately train pre-service teachers so that they feel comfortable and effective implementing literacy strategies once they are in their own classrooms. The purpose of this research was to study the impact of an adolescent literacy education course on con tent area (math, science, history and English) education students' attitudes toward implementing adolescent literacy strategies within their content lessons.

Review of the Literature

Numerous studies have indicated that there was a strong connection between teacher's attitudes and beliefs and their subsequent decisions about what and how to teach their content area (Freedman & Carver, 2007; Hall, 2005; and Santa, 2006). An additional challenge was the conflict that secondary classroom teachers have felt between coveting course content and finding time to implement reading strategies to assist students in understanding content information (Cantrell, Burns & Callaway, 2009; Park & Osborne, 2006; Wilson, Grisham, & Smetana, 2009).

To address this need for increased com fort with literacy strategies, many colleges of education over the last thirty years have added content-area literacy courses to the curriculum for pre-service teachers. However, Fisher and Ivey (2005) and Hall (2005) have noted few changes in the use of reading and writing strategies within content courses at the secondary level even though education students have received instruction in and have practiced reading strategies applied to their content area. A cultural resistance to change exists. Middle and secondary teachers are part of a subculture that values a teacher-centered presentation style and feel that adding content reading strategies within their curriculum is awkward and time-consuming (Cantrell, Bums & Callaway, 2009; Ness, 2007; Wilson, Grisham, & Smetana, 2009).

This study measured attitude change in content-area pre-service teachers through a pre/post survey over a semester-long experience. Attitudes toward implementing reading strategies within the content area were measured each semester and data were gathered over a period of ten semesters from 2007 to 2012. …