All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

John Dantzler

Maryann Manning

William Boyd Rogan

Connie Bain

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine differences in content area teachers' general educational beliefs and their attitudes toward teaching reading in their social studies, science, and English language arts classrooms in Alabama high schools when both content area and teacher certificate levels were considered. Such a study is important because teachers work with students ill-prepared for the demands of required high school reading, upcoming college reading, or workplace literacy, in a state in which nearly 39% of its youth fail to graduate from high school. Nearly 80% of all Alabama grade 11 students read below the 50th (national) percentile. A quantitative study of 380 Alabama high school English language arts, science, and social studies teachers was conducted using an online survey instrument that merged Silvernail's Educational Beliefs Questionnaire (EBQ) and Vaughan's Scale to Measure Attitudes toward Teaching Reading in Content Classrooms. No single educational philosophy was dominant among the teachers in any of the three content areas, nor by teachers with increasing intellect-demanding certificate levels. English language arts teachers had significantly higher Vaughan Scale scores measuring positive attitudes about high school reading instruction in their classes than either science or social studies teachers. The main conclusions from this study are that teachers' beliefs about their classroom environments often cross several educational philosophical orientations. This indicates the teachers' beliefs are not held close to the core, primitive belief region, but instead, may be held in the intermediate belief region and be unbounded and open to modification as effective professional development experiences and authorities provide evidence and reasons for teachers to change. Alabama high school content area teachers' scores on the Vaughan Scale do not indicate a sense of real urgency to help below-grade level readers. In addition, graduate school work leading to higher levels of teacher certification does not impact content area teachers' attitudes about intentionally including reading strategies embedded in their classrooms. Results from this study directly impact teacher classroom practices and beliefs about reading instruction in this era of new Common Core State Standards.

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