Navigators: An ethnography of a rural sixth-grade class engaged in the study of *literature

Priya Mathew Johnson, Purdue University


The purpose of the present study was to describe the educational culture of a rural sixth-grade class engaged in literature study. Using an ethnographic methodology, the researcher observed classes, took field notes, examined writings, analyzed artifacts, interviewed the teacher and the students, and conducted a survey of student perceptions. The study examined the reading context and reading experience of this community of readers. Seven categories of invitations to response are discussed with respect to how members within this particular culture addressed these issues. In addition, the teacher's role as reader and critic, discussion facilitator, community builder, and examiner and its impact on student learning was explored. The interplay between the social and academic aspects of this class formed the basis of its culture. Positive touchstone elements included: extended time periods, teacher's high expectations, learning of literary terminology, variety of response formats, and constructive relationships between members of this class community. Results include a discussion of how the role of the teacher became a key feature of this study and the implications of the findings.




Elster, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Educational sociology

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