Type of Document Dissertation Author Underwood, Phyllis Swann Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-05082009-020111 Title Effects of Culturally-Responsive Teaching Practices on First Grade Students' Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Gains Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Teacher Education, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Barbara C. Palmer Committee Chair Carol McDonald Connor Committee Co-Chair Carolyn Piazza Committee Member Vickie Lake Committee Member William Doerner Outside Committee Member Keywords
- Classroom Management
- Home Environment
Date of Defense 2009-04-08 Availability unrestricted AbstractAccumulating research reveals that children’s reading comprehension is influenced by a reader’s experiences, knowledge, language structure, and vocabulary. Thus, this researcher investigated the construct, culturally-responsive practice, as a way to provide effective learning opportunities for children from non-mainstream cultures, including children living in poverty. Evidence from this study suggests that the most critical component of culturally-responsive practice on students’ reading comprehension is the development and implementation of reading comprehension strategies. While this is an important finding, a notable word of caution is that the practices considered to be important for honoring students’ cultural backgrounds are also considered to be effective reading comprehension strategies in general.
Study results reflect the successful development and implementation of a first grade vocabulary intervention that supported students’ reading skill growth. This was the case even though one of the participating schools served many children living in poverty. While the intervention offers a promising approach to support children’s vocabulary and reading comprehension more generally, additional research is essential. Exploration of students’ language use during language arts instruction in general, and vocabulary instruction in particular may provide answers. At the same time, it should be recognized that as a self-standing construct, culturally-responsive practice may be too limited. Thus, absent effective teaching overall, these results suggest that focus solely on instilling culturally-responsive practices in the classroom will likely fail to lead to stronger student achievement.
Many questions remain unanswered, supporting the need for well designed randomized control field trials that incorporate complementary methods – both experimental and observational, examining teachers’ culturally-responsive practices (or lack thereof) in the classroom, evidence-based reading comprehension instruction, students’ reaction to this practice, and how these practices relate to students’ reading skill growth. It may be that culturally-responsive practices enhance other student outcomes, such as social skills and behavior, which were beyond the scope of this study. Implications also exist for pre-service teacher education programs and teacher professional development efforts as well. While training in culturally-responsive practices has a long history, classroom-based research to support these practices has been limited.
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