An exploration of the instructional practices of former university elementary education students: Are research-based practices for teaching reading being implemented in their elementary classrooms?

Jacquelyn M Covault, Purdue University


This study explored the instructional reading practices of four elementary teachers, all graduates of a small branch campus of a large Midwestern University, who obtained their Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and have been employed in public elementary schools for nearly three years. The four individuals were former university students of mine, and all had previously experienced classroom literacy instruction by me in the use of research-based instructional practices for teaching reading in a university methods course and practicum. Using a hermeneutic phenomenologic approach, this study explored how these teachers' knowledge about the use of research-based instructional practices, or best practices, for teaching reading to children influenced their classroom instruction, as well as what conditions contributed to or inhibited their use. Through interviews and classroom observations of the four teachers, as well as interviews with their school principals, data were analyzed to describe the factors and dynamics that influenced these teachers' choices, the relationship between their knowledge of the use of research-based practices for teaching reading, their implementation in actual classroom practice, and the conditions or factors that impacted the instructional practices they used. In particular, this study explored whether or not these teachers were implementing the research-based practices for teaching reading that were a large part of their university training in their teacher preparation program. The findings of this study furthered the understanding of whether or not teachers, who are taught to use research-based instructional practices for teaching reading, do this in their classroom reading instruction. Each data source contributed knowledge on how reading was taught in each teacher's classroom and what contributed to the instructional decisions that were made and implemented. The classroom teachers described their beliefs regarding how reading should be taught, what influenced these beliefs, how they taught reading, the support or lack of support of their beliefs from their administrators, the pressure they felt from district and state-mandated assessments of their students, and their sense of self-confidence as teachers. The research provided insight into the types of instructional practices used by teachers who are taught to use research-based practices within a constructivist framework. This qualitative study includes recommendations for teacher education coursework in the area of reading instruction, and also discusses suggestions for further research.




Cox, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Literacy|Reading instruction

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