27 SES 06 C, Teaching Reading / Writing at Secondary School
The development of critical reading practices reflects a key component in an education for democratic citizenship. Recent curriculum reforms in Sweden and other countries emphasize that a major challenge for future schooling of adolescents’ literacy is to improve their ability to deal with argumentative texts. Research demonstrates that critical reading of argumentative text is important obviously for a rich involvement in modern social and cultural life and for many concrete real-life decisions, but also immediately important for students in the large variety of text-based assignments awaiting them across the curriculum (Larson, Britt & Larson, 2004; Knudsen, 1992). Empirical research on the reading of argumentative texts also indicate that explicit instruction is rare, that students at both secondary and college level are generally not very skilled at identifying key components of argumentative structures in texts, and that students often conflate provided arguments with cases they build themselves while reading, especially when reading arguments with controversial content (Chambliss, 1994, 1995; Haria, MacArthur & Edwards Santoro, 2010; Larson et al., 2004; Newell et al., 2011). Newell et al. (2011) also argue that although research programs emphasize argumentative reasoning and modeling of argumentative reading, future research should pay more attention to the instructional activities that facilitate a development of critical reading behaviors. A particular focus in that line of research, they argue, would be to investigate in what way instructional discourses influence students’ reasoning about written argumentation.
In our presentation, we report from an intervention study designed to improve critical reading proficiency among adolescents. In previous studies (reported at previous ECER conferences) we have developed a multiple strategy approach called Dialogic Strategy Instruction (DSI) in order to improve adolescents’ narrative comprehension. Theory of metacognition (Israel & Block, 2005) and dialogism (Nystrand et al. 1997; Wilkinson & Son, 2011) share a focus in stressing the necessity of making content learnable by visibility and by public sharing of learners’ perceptions. In DSI, we unite a set of promising principles for the development of reading comprehension, including structured text discussions, introduction of selected comprehension strategies, and continued, challenging response writing.
The purpose of the present study is to investigate whether this multiple strategy approach can serve to improve adolescents’ critical reading of argumentative texts. The working definition of critical reading in the study includes i) being able to identify written argumentative structure (author’s claim, supporting arguments, evidence, and counter arguments); ii) being able to analyze arguments in terms of relevance and sustainability; and iii) being able to evaluate argumentation through written, critical response.
In line with the pedagogical aims of the intervention, the comprehension strategies employed were defined as identifying, analyzing, and evaluating. These strategies were introduced in the first phase of intervention and trained continuously while reading, discussing and responding to a mixture of argumentative texts appropriate to 15-year-olds.
Chambliss, M. (1994). Why do readers fail to change their beliefs after reading persuasive text? In R. Garner & P.A. Alexander (Eds.), Beliefs about text and instruction with text (pp. 75-89). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Chambliss, M. (1995). Text cues and strategies successful readers use to construct the gist of lengthy written arguments. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(4), 778–807. Haria, P., MacArthur, C., & Edwards Santoro, L. (2010). The Effects of Teaching a Text-Structure Based Reading Comprehension Strategy on Struggling Fifth Grade Students’ Ability to Summarize and Analyze Written Arguments. Paper presented at the SREE Conference, Research into Practice, Washington, D.C., March 4–6, 2010. Israel, S.E., Block, C.B., Bauserman, K.L. & Kinnucan-Welsch, K. (Eds.) (2005). Metacognition in Literacy Learning. Theory, Assessment, Instruction, and Professional Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Ass. Knudson, R.E. (1992). Analysis of argumentative writing at two grade levels. Journal of Educational Research, 85, 169-179. Larson, M., Britt, M.A., & Larson, A.A. (2004). Disfluencies in comprehending argumentative texts. Reading Psychology, 25, 205-224. Newell, G.E., Beach, R., Smith, J. & VanDerHeide, J. (2011). Teaching and Learning Argumentative Reading and Writing: A Review of Research. Reading Research Quarterly 46(3), 273–304. Nystrand, M., Gamoran, A., Kachur, R. & Prendergast, C. (1997). Opening Dialogue: Understanding the Dynamics of Language and Learning in the English Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press. Wilkinson, I.A.G. & Son, E.H. (2012). A dialogic turn in research on learning and teaching to comprehend. In M.L. Kamil, P.D. Pearson, E.B. Moje, & P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. IV (pp. 359–387). London: Routledge.
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