THE INTERACTIVE USE OF LANGUAGE DURING READING LESSONS: HOW READING LESSONS ARE ACCOMPLISHED
AuthorWalter, Eileen Louise
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to develop a system for describing the interactive nature of language during instructional discourse. The system was then used to describe instructional discourse during reading lessons where comprehension was the major goal. Recently, reading instructional research has been conducted to investigate what occurs during reading lessons. These researchers observed lessons using instruments consisting of categories of behaviors that were expected to occur. The present study contributed to this line of investigation by describing what actually occurred during reading lessons through the language of instruction. Eight reading lessons were audio-taped in two second grades and two sixth grades over a three-month period. During one lesson, a story from a basal textbook was read and/or discussed. During the other lesson, a book from the district literature program was read and/or discussed. During the basal lesson, a group of students, neither highest nor lowest in reading ability, was selected in each class. During the literature lesson, a group of students of mixed reading ability was audio-taped in three classes. In one second grade class, the same group was audio-taped for both lessons. From transcriptions of the audio-tapes, a system of analysis was developed, consisting of a pragmatic subsystem for identifying interactional functions of language and a semantic subsystem for identifying interactional functions of language and a semantic subsystem for identifying transactional functions of language. Interactional functions were described as different types of speech acts, termed instructional acts. Transactional functions were described as different types of topical relationships between utterances, termed topical moves and topical sequences. Data were analyzed quantitatively, comparatively, and qualitatively. From quantitative analyses, organization of instructional discourse across reading lessons was described. From comparative analyses, variations in organization of instructional discourse between reading lessons were described according to grade level, lesson type, and teacher. From qualitative analyses, topical development during reading lessons was described. Results indicate that reading lessons can be described by analyzing functions of language using methods of discourse analysis. Application of these methods revealed similarities and differences in the organization of discourse among lessons and discourse strategies used by teachers and students to interactively accomplish reading lessons.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture