AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

A Mixed Methods Study of Upper Elementary Teacher Knowledge for Teaching Reading to Struggling Readers

by Boogart Amy Vanden

Institution: The George Washington University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Elementary education; Teacher education; Reading instruction
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2129729
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This mixed methods study utilized a survey and semi-structured interviews to investigate upper elementary teacher knowledge for teaching reading to struggling readers to determine what a sample of third through fifth grade teachers knew and understood about the myriad factors that may have contributed to their students’ reading difficulties. Quantitative findings revealed that the teachers possessed the strongest knowledge in the areas of comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency, and that their knowledge was the weakest related to foundational reading skills such as phonics and morphological awareness. Quantitative analyses also suggested that participation in certain types of professional development, most notably learning communities, may have improved the teachers' knowledge, but that in general, variables such as education, teaching experience, and professional development, had very little, if any, significant effect on the teachers' knowledge. Qualitative findings included five themes, or five areas of teacher knowledge: knowledge about struggling readers’ foundational skills difficulties; knowledge gained from working with colleagues; knowledge gained from learning communities; knowledge about diagnosing students’ reading weaknesses; and knowledge about the effects of struggling readers’ lack of confidence. In each of these areas, teachers discussed the specific knowledge they felt they possessed or lacked, as well as the most significant sources from which they had developed this knowledge. Comparisons of the quantitative and qualitative data suggested that experience teaching primary grades, effective work with reading specialists, and participation in learning communities may each have helped the teachers develop the knowledge needed to work with struggling readers. The quantitative and qualitative data comparison also indicated that while teachers did not always possess adequate knowledge for teaching foundational reading skills, they felt that this was an area of knowledge they needed and wanted to develop so that they could more effectively help their struggling readers. This study concluded with a discussion of the implications of its findings, as well as recommendations for policy, practice, and future research. This study’s findings may provide preservice and inservice teacher educators with valuable information they can use to inform their curriculum and support programs for upper elementary teachers.