Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The Qualitative Similarity Hypothesis: Research Synthesis and Future Directions

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The Qualitative Similarity Hypothesis: Research Synthesis and Future Directions

Article excerpt

A book goes out there to a zillion different people, and everyone reads a different book because they bring their own imaginations to it.

LOIS LOWRY (2014)

Lois Lowry (2014), author of Newbery Award-winning children's books, stresses the importance of readers "bringing their own imaginations" to reading a book. Seth Lerer (2008), author of Children's Literature: A Reader 's History From Aesop to Harry Potter, says that the process of reading more books enables the reader to "chart the makings of the literate imagination" (p. 1). For education psychologists engaged in the scientific study and measurement of reading skills, reading acquisition entails a dimension of these skills. Drawing on data-driven studies, Mason, Stewart, Peterman, and Dunning (1992) constructed a tripartite model to explain reading acquisition, consisting of (a) developmental emergent literacy processes; (b) the cognitive processes that occur during word learning or word analysis, word attack, decoding, and application of the alphabetic principle; and (c) the socialcultural and constructivist processes of the reader. The literary world of Lowry and Lerer and the scientific world of educational psychologists represent complementary ways of understanding the different dimensions of the reading acquisition process.

The question of how d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh; see definition in Wang & Andrews, 2014) children learn to read books has flummoxed past and present teachers and researchers. In this penultimate article of a two-part Annals special issue on the differences, if any, between d/Dhh and hearing readers in regard to the processes of acquiring and using reading skills, we synthesize the diverse viewpoints of nine contributing teams of researchers from universities and research laboratories in the United States and Canada. We asked each team to critically examine the qualitative similarity hypothesis (QSH) as a conceptual frame so that we could arrive at a better understanding of how d/Dhh students learn to read.

We know that many d/Dhh students fail to learn to read; however, we also know that many d/Dhh adults do become skilled readers (Allen & Morere, 2012; Andrews & Karlin, 2002; Miller & Clark, 2011; Mounty, Pucci, & Harmon, 2014; Thumann, 2006). Some even become reading researchers (Andrews, Byrne, & Miller, 2015). Stronger reading skills have been attributed to the d/Dhh child's early access to language, whether it be visual, as in American Sign Language (ASL), or auditiorily based, even though some d/Dhh adult readers report that they learned language after the critical period in early childhood. Other researchers have found that motivation and higher amount of reading lead to greater reading proficiency on the part of d/Dhh readers (Pauralt & Williams, 2010). Still other researchers report that expert d/Dhh readers always have strong auditorily based phonological skills, which they can draw upon through speechreading, articulatory feedback, Visual Phonics, or Cued Speech (Wang, Tfezek, Luckner, & Paul, 2008). But did their phonological awareness lead to their higher reading achievement, or was their phonological awareness the outcome of being good readers? Is phonological awareness bidirectional? Some support the belief that phonemic awareness is the primary skill underlying the emergent literacy of young d/Dhh readers (e.g., Cupples, Ching, Crowe, Day, & Seeto, 2013), while others have a more expanded, richer view of emergent literacy that encompasses not only letter recognition and word-reading code emphasis skills, but also includes book-reading experiences, cultural aspects, world knowledge, concept development, drawing, and letter writing, as well as parent and teacher practices related to the book-reading experiences of children (Andrews & Mason, 1986; Herbold, 2008). Indeed, a current of divergent ideas and unanswered questions flows through reading research in deaf education. …

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