A study of primary school teachers’ understandings and perceptions of teaching reading

PhD Thesis

Stone, R. 2018. A study of primary school teachers’ understandings and perceptions of teaching reading. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsStone, R.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameEdD

The question of how children learn to read – including reading provision for children in English primary schools – has been the focus of increasing attention in political policy and academic research over the last three decades. Within this attention and associated discourses, too little attention has been paid to how primary school teachers understand and perceive the teaching of reading. In directly addressing this gap, this thesis contributes to the body of literature by examining how primary school teachers understand and perceive the teaching of reading within their schools and classrooms. The research examines how teachers draw on their beliefs and experience to influence their classroom practice, and how they make sense of the teaching of reading in response to policy. The study is underpinned by social constructivism as there is a consensus that social constructivism is concerned with empowering individuals to create and express their own understandings.

This qualitative study gathered data from a whole school focus group followed by individual non-directive interviews with four teachers currently working in mainstream primary education. Through this data, which included the use of concepts maps, the study examined how the social interactions and discussion opportunities revealed and informed the teachers’ understandings of teaching reading. In addition, the study also looked at whether teachers’ understandings were fixed or could be shaped by interactions. The data gathered on understandings of teaching reading was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) drawing on themes from Baxter-Magolda’s continuum as a framework to understand the different types of knowledge used by the teachers. The methodology offered the opportunity for the teachers to share their voice and critical reflections of their practice. The concept mapping method employed in this research revealed how the teachers see a clear partitioning in their thinking between policy and provision, and that the teachers felt part of their role was to address the gaps left behind by policy. This study presents rich descriptions of the teachers’ experiences and the implications for teaching reading in the primary curriculum.

KeywordsTeaching reading; teacher voice; social constructivism; interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA); collaboration; concept maps; english primary school; teaching reading to children aged 4 to 11.
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Deposited12 Apr 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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Mentoring for reading
Stone, R. 2021. Mentoring for reading. in: Howells, K., Lawrence, J. and Roden, J. (ed.) Mentoring Teachers in the Primary School Routledge, Taylor and Francis. pp. 190-197