Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Kay Camperell


Kay Camperell


Cindy D. Jones


Martha Dever


Sylvia Read


Judith Holt


This was a qualitative case study that compared data across six district-level literacy coaches’ epistemological and ontological beliefs about how to teach reading. All six coaches were working as a cohort of literacy coaches on the development and implementation of a secondary reading intervention program for seventh-grade struggling readers. Data were collected over a 6-week period where the coaches responded to questions and vignettes through a think-aloud protocol. The data collection instruments addressed personal, work, and educational experiences that influenced the development of their beliefs about how to teach reading. A survey of their professional library was also taken. The coaches responded to three other instruments and questions to glean epistemological beliefs about knowledge and to address the instructional needs of a struggling reader. There were three major findings. First, the report of the National Reading Panel (NRP) was very influential to the forming or affirming of their beliefs about how to teach reading. The findings of the NRP were privileged in instructional decision making by the coaching cohort, while the adolescent literacy research was ignored or marginalized. Second, self-stated instructional choices were made by the literacy coaches based upon three models that reflected their perspective about how to teach reading. These models were: (a) a skills development model that focused on beginning reading skills, (b) a deficiency model that focused on intervention and remediation, and (c) a proficiency model that focused on social-constructivist learning. Third, the literacy coaches’ epistemological and ontological beliefs about how to teach reading to struggling were either flexible (changing) or rigid (unchanging) as reflected by whether they changed their instructional approaches or choices across grade levels or populations.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 12, 2012.