Reading Philosophies

Category: Philosophy
Last Updated: 11 Apr 2021
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The teacher uses explanation and demonstration to teach specific reading skills and strategies (Goeke, 2009).
The teacher also provides corrective feedback to his or her students as the students attempt to apply the new knowledge (Goeke, 2009).
An example of explicit reading instruction would be that the teacher would state the sound and spelling of a specific letter-sound correspondence and then demonstrate by modeling how to read words that include that feature to the class (Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002).

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The students then would practice but only after the teacher has modeled the process first. A second example of explicit reading instruction would be to teach decoding to students that have deficits in word reading. A third example of explicit reading instruction would be having students use the mnemonic DISSECT (Discover the context, Isolate the prefix, Separate the suffix, Say the stem, Examine the stem, Check with someone, and Try the dictionary) to read unknown words (Adams & Engelmann, 1996). The teacher would teach each strategy step explicitly (Adams & Engelmann, 1996).

An important part of explicit reading instruction is that the teacher always describes the strategy, provides the rationale for its use, and states how and when to implement a strategy explicitly to the students and the instruction is always implemented systematically (Adams & Engelmann, 1996).
Explicit reading assessments would include having student answer multiple-choice questions about selected text passage; decoding assessments can also be given (Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002).

One example of a decoding assessment would be that the student is given isolated words one at a time, and the student is asked to say the word aloud. The words selected for a decoding assessment should be words that are within the student’s spoken vocabulary, and should contain a mix of phonetically regular and phonetically irregular words (Goeke, 2009). Another type of assessment is that of standardized tests such as the Diagnostic Assessments of Reading (DAR) and the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR).
Reading Philosophies Summary The educational realm is not free from disputes.

Disputes on reading instructional practices have been ongoing for more than half a century. On one side of this debate is composed of those who believe that students learn best when they are able to discover and construct the essential information for themselves. This type of instruction is often called student-centered or constructivist instruction (Confrey, 1990). On the opposite side of this debate are those who believe that students only thrive when full, explicit instruction is given and student should not have to discover essential content (Goeke, 2009).

This type of instruction is often referred to as direct or explicit instruction (Goeke, 2009). When speaking about reading instruction, this debate has often been coined as the “reading wars”. Constructivist Reading Instruction is derived from the theory of constructivism. One could assume that constructivism is derived from Piaget’s own reference to his views as being a “constructivist” or possible from Bruner’s description of learning discovery as “constructionist” (Gruber & Voheche, 1977).

Some other terms that have been used to reference a constructivist way of learning include generative learning, situated learning, authentic learning, and educational semiotic (Wittrock, 1985; Cunningham, 1992). Constructivists believe that all learning should be student centered. They think that knowledge is obtained only during a meaning-making search where the student is involved in the process of constructing their own interpretations of their experiences.

Constructivist generally agree that students much construct their own learning, all new learning is dependent on the student’s existing understanding, social interaction plays a critical role in learning, and authentic learning tasks are necessary for learning to be meaningful (Bruning, Schraw, & Ronning, 1995; Pressley, Harris, & Marks, 1992). According to constructivists, in order for a student to construct new meaning he or she needs to make every effort to make sense of all new experiences and then must relate those to experiences to what is already known (Confrey, 1990).

Constructivists also claim that a catalyst for acquiring knowledge is dialogue and social interaction facilitates understanding (Brown, 1994). Constructivist teachers aim to provide cooperative learning tasks and peer tutoring for their students. Constructivist teacher often believe that students learn faster when they are actively involved in dialog with their peers about significant problems (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). The constructivist classroom would be filled with students roaming about the classroom obtaining supplies, conferring with peers or the teacher, and working on self-directed projects (Brooks & Brooks, 1993).

Constructivist teachers pride themselves in asking big questions, providing time for student to think and explore to find answers (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). In an actual classroom, there are many flaws involved in practicing constructivist instruction. The first major problem is that often only the brightest students make the discovery that is needed (Pace, 2011). Another issue is that many students become frustrated. This frustration many cause some students to disengage and other students may simply copy whatever their peers are doing regardless in either case the students never actually discover anything (Pace, 2011).

A third issue is that some students may believe they have made a discovery but in fact, they have only learned a misconception (Pace, 2011). These misconceptions can then interfere with future learning and problem solving (Pace, 2011). Studies have shown that once a student has believed one of these misconceptions that even after they have been show the correct answer they are still likely to recall the original discovery and not the correction (Pace, 2011). Along with the above four issues studies have shown that constructivist instruction can result in an increase in achievement gap (Pace, 2011).

Decades of research has validated that explicit instruction is much more effective for reading instruction when compared to constructivist reading instruction. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) states, “After a half-century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is no body of research supporting the technique. In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather than constructivist-based minimal guidance. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) also reports, “… Not only is unguided instruction normally less effective; there is also evidence that it may have negative results when students acquire misconceptions or incomplete or disorganized knowledge. ” Research has shown that when teaching new skills and content to students, providing explicit instructions accompanied with practice and feedback is more effective than requiring students to discover many aspects of what they are to learn (Hall, 2002). Explicit instruction is teacher directed.

The teacher provides the students with a full explanation of the new skill or concept that the student is required to learn (Hall, 2002). The teacher also uses a variety of accommodations such as lecturing, modeling, videos and other media, and demonstration to provide the students with proper guidance (Hall, 2002). Students need to be explicitly shown what to do and how to do something first and then they need to be given the opportunity to practice doing it while they receive corrective feedback from the teacher (Hall, 2002). Extensive research supports explicit instruction’s success as an evidence-based practice.

Adams and Engelmann (1996) found thirty-seven research publications validating the effectiveness of explicit instruction. These research publications all reported that explicit instruction had a significant outcome on reading instruction. Research also found explicit instruction to be as valuable for typical students, as for students with disabilities. The National Follow-Through Project studied multiple models of instruction to determine the most effective instructional models for students who were economically disadvantaged (Rosenshine, 1995; Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002).

The results concluded that children who received explicit instruction in literacy and mathematics scored above those taught with other approaches. An additional result was increased self-esteem due to success in school (Rosenshine, 1995; Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002). The National Follow-Through Project belonged to a group of studies on teacher effectiveness, which determined that explicit instruction effectively taught students what they needed to learn (Rosenshine, 1995; Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriguez, 2002).

Baumann and Duffy (2001) reported on five years of research that showed that reading skills and strategies are most effectively taught with systematic and explicit instruction. In conclusion, explicit instruction is vital for initial instruction in skill acquisition (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989). This is especially the case for struggling readers, who often require intense support to acquire reading skills (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989). Beginning reading instruction should emphasize explicit instruction, particularly for phonics instruction (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989).

Constructivist instruction is important when generalizing skills to other contexts (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989). It can also be used when children explore children’s literature. Story structure can be taught with constructivist instruction and may be more meaningful to children than teaching it explicitly (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989). The Whole Language Movement is built upon Constructivist principles (Goodman, Goodman, & Hood, 1989).


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  14. Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41, 75–86 Pace, D. (2011).
  15. Best practice: The use of explicit instruction and culturally responsive teaching. Insights on Learning Disabilities, 8(2), 5-14. Pressley, M. , Harris, K. R. , & Marks, M. B. (1992). But good strategy instructors are constructivists!
  16. Educational Psychology Review 4: 3-31. Rosenshine, B. (1995). Advances in research on instruction. Journal of Educational Research, 88, 262–268.
  17. Stanovich, K. E. (1994). Constructivism in reading education. Journal of Special Education, 28(3), 259. Taylor, B. M. , Peterson, D. S. , Pearson, P. D. , & Rodriguez, M. C. (2002).
  18. Looking inside classrooms: Reflecting on the “how” as well as the “what” in effective reading instruction. The Reading Teacher, 56, 270–279. Wittrock, W. C. (1985).
  19. The generative learning model and its implications for science education. Studies in Science Education 12: 59-87. Ying-Tien, W. , & Chin-Chung, T. (2005). Effects of constructivist-oriented instruction on

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