Experienced and Preservice Teacher Beliefs About How Best to Teach Beginning Reading
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 27 - Issue 2 p. 84- 103
Q methodology was used to explore inservice and preservice teachers' beliefs about how to best teach beginning reading. Two separate studies and analyses were done; and the Q sorts from two P sets were subjected to second-order factor analysis. In study 1, 36 undergraduate and graduate education students at a Chicago-area university performed a Q sort of 39 cards describing common literacy activities. Q statistical analysis identified six factors, two consisting almost entirely of inservice teachers and four consisting mainly of preservice teachers. In study 2, 56 participants sorted the Q deck of literacy activities. This study population included teachers from many regions of Illinois with more varied academic backgrounds that the original sample. Q analysis identified five factors, one consisting only of experienced teachers, two consisting mainly of novices, and two split between inservice and preservice teachers. Second-order factor analysis revealed substantial concordance between the Study 1 and Study 2 solutions. Clear contrasts in beliefs about good reading instruction were noted between the expert and novice groups. In general, experienced teachers shared a similar perspective, despite the fact that their teaching environments and student populations varied greatly. The expert perspective was characterized by a view that reading is a multifaceted process; an emphasis on internal motivation; an emphasis on parent and teacher modeling of reading to enhance children's motivation and skill; knowledge of recent research, especially on balanced literacy approaches and the role of prior knowledge in comprehension; the importance of keeping young children engaged in learning and preserving their self-esteem; and rejection of older teaching techniques that seem developmentally inappropriate, autocratic, or dull. Conversely, the novice perspective heavily emphasized traditional phonics instructions and displayed a lack of knowledge of educational terminology, instructional practices and concepts, and young children. Implications are discussed.