The reading prism: questioning literary texts within a reading community to develop active independent readers

Persoff, Joanna Channah (2016) The reading prism: questioning literary texts within a reading community to develop active independent readers. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The introduction of a literature programme (emphasising the teaching of thinking skills) as part of the Israeli English curriculum, led to this qualitative action research case study. The rationale for this study was further strengthened by two concerns. First, self-proclaimed readers (readers who claim they read a lot) read literature superficially. Second, even when teachers enable richer discussions through open-ended questions and implied use of reading comprehension strategies (RCS), pupils do not appropriate these strategies for their own reading. The year-and-a-half long study was conducted with 53 pupils from two advanced classes in two secondary schools. It began by looking at whether self-proclaimed readers were aware of the RCS they use while reading and how this knowledge or lack of it influenced their reading. The findings revealed that pupils use RCS haphazardly due to lack of awareness of what they are doing or need to do while reading. Consequently, a reading strategy PaRDeS was designed and implemented with the idea that pupils would appropriate it.

The data analysed through constructive-interpretive-hermeneutic methods shows the effects on pupils' reading during and after the implementation of the PaRDeS reading strategy (a question generating strategy based on the Ministry's thinking skills). The study reveals how metacognitive discussions improved pupils' awareness of what they were doing and enhanced their use of PaRDeS. Furthermore, the study observes how the strategy can be improved by using it within a community of readers. Thus, pupils moved from the periphery of the classroom space to the centre as they appropriated the strategy and took control of their discussions and therefore their comprehension.

The study also reveals that using PaRDeS helps pupils understand that inference is central to constructing understanding of literary texts. In addition, the strategy causes pupils to view texts as multi-layered and enables them to read iteratively to create a global meaning that is greater than the sum of understanding of each part of the text. This synergy is further enhanced when pupils bring their questions to the community to analyse texts from different perspectives.

Synergy led to the central finding of this study, an understanding of why PaRDeS may improve reading comprehension. The study concludes that a reading prism is created due to the PaRDeS question types, the scaffolding of the strategy and its utilisation in the community. This prism is constructed from six points: reader, text, author, contexts of knowledge and experience, teacher/facilitator and participants in a reading community. As the points of the reading prism interact, the hermeneutic space is established in which hermeneutic dialogue occurs. Close observation of what is happening within the hermeneutic space reveals that because of the interaction between the points, pupils use several reading styles iteratively and that these reading styles enhance thinking styles. Consequently, pupils co-created enriched textual interpretation, which also led to individual creative analysis through writing assignments.

To conclude, this study suggests that when an environment is created to implement and use PaRDeS, the resulting synergy between members of the learning community leads to enhanced thinking necessary for both enriched understanding of the text and the development of active independent readers.

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)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 14:51
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2016 14:51

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