An investigation into reading habits of Texas middle and high school english language arts teachers


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction.
Throughout the history of education, it has been noted that teachers are influential people in lives of children (Applegate & Applegate, 2004; Daisey, 2010; Gambrell, 1996; Ruddell, 1995). Children spend one-third (or more) of the day with teachers; and as they enter into adolescence, children come in contact with more and more teachers during day. Teachers are in a position to influence children's academic and personal lives positively or negatively (Applegate & Applegate, 2004; Ruddell, 1995). When we look for ways to motivate students as readers, improve literacy instruction, and raise academic achievement, the teacher is an important factor. "Teachers are often well positioned to do so" (Applegate & Applegate, 2004, p. 555) by sharing and valuing reading inside and outside the classroom. While literacy is a multi-faceted feature, it seems logical to state that teachers are the common reading models for school aged children across the United States. Linda Gambrell (1996), stated that, "Teachers who love reading and are avid readers themselves have students who have higher reading achievement than do the teachers who rarely read" (p. 20). This study examined one aspect of the growing body of research exploring English Language Arts teachers' personal reading experiences and how that affects their attitude toward the teaching of reading, specifically in the modeling practices in the classroom. Participants in this study included 158 Secondary English Language Arts teachers currently teaching in grades 6-12 in the state of Texas. The participants completed an online questionnaire, through a web-based tool. Respondents were asked a series of demographic questions followed by questions about their personal reading practices outside the classroom and their modeling practices in the classroom. The participants' answers to the questions in survey provided descriptive data to explain the way things are or describe the characteristics of a whole group by using part of it without any experimental manipulation (Borg & Gall, 1971; Duke & Mallette, 2004, Kamil, Langer, & Shanahan, 1985). The majority of the secondary English Language Arts (ELA) teachers that responded to the survey claimed to be readers. ELA teachers with graduate hours were readers and better reading models. Also, the teachers at schools that received performance ratings of the "Recognized" and "Exemplary" reported implementing more modeling practices. These findings are intended to start conversations and encourage social reading experiences both among content area educators, as well as in classrooms, between educator and student. Suggestions are made for further research using both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the reading and modeling practices in the content area classroom.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development