Reading re-cognized: fostering collaborative reading pedagogies to reconstruct reading teaching practice with secondary English teachers

Gooda, Theresa (2022) Reading re-cognized: fostering collaborative reading pedagogies to reconstruct reading teaching practice with secondary English teachers. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Approaches to the way reading is taught in UK secondary schools are disjointed, frequently lack a research basis and are sometimes counterintuitive to teachers’ beliefs. Mixed messages, which have been systematically imposed on English teachers through historical policy decisions, have made encouraging students to read for engagement difficult. When set structures are imposed on teachers, teachers’ professional autonomy is diminished and critical reflection is discouraged. An agentive and dialectical element has been historically absent from dominant models of professional development relating to the teaching of English, and to the teaching of reading in particular, for UK English teachers.

This research explores the relationship between research-informed reading pedagogies and classroom practice among a small group of secondary English teachers in a single institution. A participatory action research (PAR) research design emerged from the search for a creative way to help teachers contribute to the democratization of knowledge and its production, and to translate new knowledge into practice. The longitudinal qualitative research was conceived in three phases with multiple data collection points. The reconnaissance phase involved collective exploration of the existing pedagogic practices and cultures surrounding reading in teachers’ classrooms and across the department, by gathering survey responses from students and discursive responses from teachers. In the second stage the study supported teachers’ knowledge and reflections about the teaching of reading and fostering reading engagement through systematic reading and study-group research discussions. Participating teachers explored their existing ideas and beliefs about reading, read articles and research papers and wrote in reflective journals. The third stage involved teachers changing or enriching their practice by choosing to implement a range of the research-informed ideas agreed in the group’s ‘reading manifesto’, and considered changes in the classroom and beyond. The key theoretical frameworks underpinning the research relate to propositional knowledge, tacit knowledge, the importance of theory about reading, and the nature of situated learning, with critical pedagogy for teachers’ learning providing the lens through which these frameworks were explored. Qualitative data-collection methods (semi-structured interviews, observations and focus group discussions) were used throughout to collect the views of teachers and students. Teacher participants supported the collection of data and were involved in the preliminary stages of data-analysis, using thematic analysis.

By considering teachers’ reading ideologies through a participatory action research (PAR) approach, the findings suggest that teacher development comprises an independent journey, within a community of practitioners; and that teachers are transformed through extended active engagement with values and beliefs about reading and education, in order to reconsider, and reconstruct, both pedagogy and teacher identity. Alongside opportunities for teacher engagement with theory and research, using a framework of critical pedagogy, this approach forms a more powerful route to teacher agency and enhanced pedagogy than the current dominant forms of professional development allow. I therefore argue for change to the current ‘what works’ approach to continuing professional development for English teachers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1025 Teaching (Principles and practice) > LB1049.9 Reading (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary education. High schools
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 May 2022 14:20
Last Modified: 17 May 2022 14:20

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