Teachers’ knowledge about reading comprehension processes and instructional practices: interviews with classroom teachers and special education teachers

Teachers’ knowledge about reading comprehension processes and instructional practices: interviews with classroom teachers and special education teachers

First Author: Kristi Jakobson -- Tallinn University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Piret Soodla
Keywords: Teacher Knowledge, Reading comprehension, reading strategies, Reading instruction, Poor Comprehenders
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers’ knowledge of reading comprehension processes and reading comprehension instruction to answer two research questions: (1) What knowledge do teachers possess about reading comprehension processes and reading comprehension instruction? (2) How is teachers’ knowledge related to their professional background and teaching experience?
Method. The sample consisted of classroom teachers (N = 30) and special education teachers (N = 37) from 30 different schools across Estonia. Their knowledge about reading comprehension processes and reading comprehension instruction was examined through the use of semi-structured interviews. Responses were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Results. When describing skilled reading, the majority of teachers emphasized reading comprehension, more than half mentioned technical aspects of reading, and a minority included reading motivation. With respect to skills and processes regarded as crucial for good text comprehension, teachers mostly mentioned the technical aspects of reading and vocabulary knowledge and less often noted reading strategies and background knowledge. Teachers expressed poor knowledge about the construct of reading strategies, after the researcher posed follow-up questions, the teachers were able to mention reading strategies, but there was considerable variation among their knowledge. The results highlight the differences in knowledge between teacher groups and teaching experience.
Conclusions. Teachers’ knowledge about reading comprehension processes and reading comprehension instruction is considerably variable yet mostly limited. The differences in teachers’ knowledge based on their professional background and teaching experience indicate the need for further disquisition on these topics in degree studies and continuing education.