Handbook of Reading Research - Vol. II

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

33
SECONDARY SCHOOL READING

Donna E. Alvermann and David W. Moore

Efforts toward reforming secondary schools frequently center on issues such as graduation requirements and conduct codes. A key issue often ignored is the quality of daily instruction. Critics of reform movements such as Passow ( 1986) have challenged researchers and educators to focus on the daily interactions between teachers and students as they encounter subject matter. To meet this challenge requires an understanding of the research on secondary school teacher-student interactions specific to reading.

In this chapter we review the research on reading practices in grades 7 through 12. The review is by no means exhaustive. Secondary reading has been an academic specialty since the early 1940s ( Moore, Readence, & Rickelman, 1983), and a great quantity of research has accumulated (e.g., see Alvermann, Moore, & Conley, 1987; Berger & Robinson, 1982; Dupuis, 1984; Singer, 1983; Witte & Otto, 1981).

We have divided this chapter into five sections. The first section consists of a brief rationale for the special treatment of secondary school reading. The second section reviews the experimental research on teaching strategies and learning strategies designed to affect secondary students' learning from text. The third section describes actual reading practices that have predominated in secondary schools. Observational, ethnographic, and survey methodologies are most common here. Next, the fourth section presents reasons for the predominance of certain secondary reading practices. Conceptual and historical studies inform much of the discussion in this part of the chapter. The last section concludes with implications for future research.


RATIONALE

Volume 1 of the Handbook of Reading Research ( Pearson, Barr, Kamil, & Mosenthal, 1984) did not include a chapter on secondary school reading; a separate chapter is appropriate in Volume 2 for at least two reasons: Secondary schooling differs from elementary schooling, and reading achievement at the secondary level is a highly visible educational and political issue.


Secondry Schooling

Subject-matter specialization is a central difference between elementary and secondary schooling ( Confrey, 1982; Squire, in press; Knott, 1986). Unlike the child-centered environment and self-contained structure of elementary schools, secondary schools are characteristically departmentalized according to subject matter specialties. Along with departmentalization, subject-matter specialization is manifested in secondary teachers'

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