Handbook of Reading Research

By P. David Pearson | Go to book overview

4
ETHNOGRAPHIC
APPROACHES TO
READING RESEARCH
Larry F. Guthrie and William S. Hall

Within the educational research community, ethnography and ethnographic methods have been gaining in prominence as a means of studying schools and educational processes. The situation is no different in reading research. “Ethnography” is approaching the status of a catchword. All manner of reading researchers toss around the terms ethnographic research, qualitative methods, and observational studies with abandon. References to an ethnographic approach or ethnographic component have become essential parts of funding agencies' requests for proposals, and studies claiming to employ ethnographic methods have crept into professional reading research journals. There have been calls for a more qualitative approach and a less narrow perspective on the process of reading and the acquisition of reading skills. In other words, ethnography is achieving credibility.

An unfortunate aspect of this phenomenon is that many of those who talk about ethnographic research—and even those who claim to do it—do not have a firm grasp on what “ethnographic, ” “qualitative, ” and “observational” mean and how they should be distinguished. All too often, they are used interchangeably. In addition, while most reading researchers may talk about ethnographic approaches, they really take a somewhat dim view of such “soft” research. Because educational anthropologists conduct research and present findings in ways different from those employed in the standard experimental approach, their methods are to a large degree suspect. Ethnographic studies are interesting, but questionable. They are considered to be little more than curiosities because of perceived problems in reliability and generalizability. From the perspective of mainstream educational research, ethnography is basically a method that relies on a small sample, observations, note taking, and a lot of intuition. Because ethnographers generally do not employ statistical procedures, their research is regarded as more anecdotal than scientific, and as lacking in rigor.

To complicate matters, another group of researchers, those coming out of a more ethnographic tradition, have become critical of some of the work done recently under the guise of ethnography. Rist (1980), for example, has taken

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Handbook of Reading Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Contributors ix
  • Foreword xix
  • Preface xxi
  • Part One - Methodological Issues 1
  • 1 - The History of Reading Research 3
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 2 - Current Traditions of Reading Research 39
  • References *
  • 3 - Design and Analysis of Experiments 63
  • References *
  • 4 - Ethnographic Approaches to Reading Research 91
  • References *
  • 5 - Examples from Word Recognition 111
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 6 - Assessment in Reading 147
  • References *
  • Part Two - Basic Processes: the State of the Art 183
  • 7 - Models of the Reading Process 185
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 8 - Word Recognition 225
  • References *
  • 9 - A Schema-Theoretic View of Basic Processes in Reading Comprehension 255
  • References *
  • 10 - Listening and Reading 293
  • References *
  • 11 - The Structure of Text 319
  • References *
  • 12 - Metacognitive Skills and Reading 353
  • References *
  • 13 - Directions in the Sociolinguistic Study of Reading 395
  • References *
  • 14 - Social and Motivational Influences on Reading 423
  • Notes 443
  • References *
  • 15 - Understanding Figurative Language 453
  • References *
  • 16 - Individual Differences and Underlying Cognitive Processes in Reading 471
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Part Three - Instructional Practices: the State of the Art 503
  • 17 - Early Reading from a Developmental Perspective 505
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 18 - From Debate to Reformation 545
  • Notes 575
  • References *
  • 19 - Word Identification 583
  • References *
  • 20 - Research on Teaching Reading Comprehension 609
  • References *
  • 21 - Studying 657
  • References *
  • 22 - Readability 681
  • References *
  • 23 - Classroom Instruction in Reading 745
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 24 - Managing Instruction 799
  • References *
  • 25 - Oral Reading 829
  • References *
  • Author Index 865
  • Subject Index 891
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