Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives on Teaching Reading Comprehension

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Abstract

Purpose: We report findings from a survey of elementary teachers regarding reading instruction. The purpose was to examine teachers’ beliefs about how children in the first 7 years of schooling develop reading comprehension skills and to characterize the self-reported practices and strategies they use to sup-port children to comprehend connected text. Method: A web-based survey was used to collect data from 284 Australian ele-mentary teachers about their beliefs and practices regarding reading compre-hension instruction. Selected Likert-scale items were aggregated to determine the degree to which participants held “child-centered” or “content-centered” views of reading instruction. Results: Australian elementary school teachers hold a wide range of beliefs about reading instruction, some of which are in direct opposition to each other. Our findings indicate low consensus about what elements of instructional prac-tice are useful in classrooms or how time should be apportioned to different tasks. Commercial programs had significant penetration in schools, and many participants reported using multiple commercial programs, with varying degrees of pedagogical harmony. Participants indicated that their most common source of knowledge about reading instruction was their own personal research, with few nominating university teacher education as a primary source of knowledge or expertise. Conclusions: Little agreement exists within the Australian elementary teacher community regarding the ways that reading skills can and should be taught. There is significant room for teacher practice to have improved theoretical underpinnings and to develop a consistent repertoire of classroom practices aligned with these.

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Smith, R., Snow, P., Serry, T., & Hammond, L. (2023). Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives on Teaching Reading Comprehension. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 54(3), 888–913. https://doi.org/10.1044/2023_LSHSS-22-00118

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