Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. II

By Rebecca Barr; Michael L. Kamil et al. | Go to book overview

32
TEACHER AND SCHOOL EFFECTS IN LEARNING TO READ

James V. Hoffman

Reading educators work with students in schools to affect growth in literacy. They believe that what they do and how well they do it can make a positive contribution to student learning. My purpose in writing this chapter is to explore the scientific basis for this belief. At a very superficial level, the task I face in presenting the science of teaching and school effects on learning to read is one of surveying the existing research that explores these issues. The complexity of the task is much greater than this, however. No simple listing or summary of studies, factors, and findings would come close to capturing the peculiarities or power of this research literature; nor would such a linear strategy serve to raise some of the most important questions for future research to address. In the final analysis it is perhaps more in the evolution of ways in which researchers and research communities have studied teaching and schooling effects than in the simple accumulation of findings that one discovers the important lessons to be learned ( Shulman, 1986).

This review considers research that has been conducted in elementary classrooms and schools and focused on the nature of teaching and learning in developmental reading programs. In some cases, studies included in this review are discussed in other chapters of this handbook as well. While every attempt has been made to reduce redundancy and duplication, it would be an error to not include them here again, for each plays a critical role in the unfolding of the research movement. The organization of this chapter reflects the kinds of questions that guided the initial search of the literature. One set of guiding questions related to the historical roots for research into teaching and school effects in reading. How have the basic questions asked and methods employed in research changed over time? Is each new generation of reading researchers simply rediscovering what others have known before, but packaged under a different set of labels? The first section of this review focuses on the significant roots of research into teaching and school effects in learning to read. Another set of guiding questions is related to the nature of, and findings from, current research studies into teaching and school effects. What are the issues being explored and what have we learned about teaching and school effects in learning to read? What paradigms and methodologies dominate this field of inquiry? The second section of this review relates to the findings from recent research. A final area of guiding questions is related to the identification of critical areas of need for future research. What have we learned from research about how to conduct research? What important questions remain to be answered or even addressed in this field? The final section focuses on an analysis of the shortcomings of current research and possible directions for the future.

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