Teacher Beliefs and Children's Concepts About Reading: Are They Related?

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Reading Research and Instruction





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This study represents a descriptive exploration of the question of whether first‐grade students' concepts about reading differed as a function of their teachers' theoretical orientations to reading instruction. Students selected for participation in the study were randomly selected from the classrooms of each of nine teachers who represented three differing theoretical viewpoints on reading instruction as assessed with the TORP. Students represented a wide variety of socio‐economic backgrounds. Four students were randomly selected from each class list using a table of random numbers for an interview using the Burke Reading Interview (1977). There were 19 boys and 17 girls in the group totaling an n=36 students for this exploratory interview study.

In many respects, teacher orientations to reading instruction resulted in similar responses and concepts about reading. Three observations are noted from the findings primarily among those students whose teachers' held a whole language (WL) orientation to reading instruction. First, these WL students were able to verbalize a greater raw number and variety of strategies for reading than students in other teacher instructional orientations. Second, whole language students and teachers valued and used phonics and sounding out as much as teachers and students of other reading instructional orientations. And finally, whole language students, unlike other students, viewed reading books as the central focus of becoming a reader. Findings of the study are descriptive and represent an exploration into the question. Further research was recommended to conclusively establish the findings of this initial study.