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Examining the effect of teacher read-aloud on adolescent attitudes and learning.

Over the past 3 decades, a great deal of attention has been focused on how children learn to read and ways instruction could facilitate maximum growth. This concentration on reading fluency is critical for younger students. Likewise unresolved reading difficulties with reading fluency can remain an obstacle for learners far beyond fourth grade.

Middle school years and the accompanying physical growth are often considered a transition time for many adolescents. After spending the majority of the elementary school day in a classroom containing the same teacher, routines, and classmates, most middle schools require moving through a less personal environment of frequent class changes, several teachers, and a much larger peer group. Reading instruction, replaced by English grammar and literature, is no longer a separate daily subject but an expected skill for all curriculum areas. Coupled with unpredictable physical changes, adolescents are faced with multiple academic adjustments that can impact their success.

The search for text meaning continues as readers mature and move progressively through secondary grades. Louise Rosenblatt's transactional theory (1994) states that each "reading act is an event, or a transaction involving a particular reader and a particular pattern of signs, a text, and occurring at a particular time in a particular context. ... The meaning ... comes into being during the transaction between reader and text" (p. 929). Meaningful transaction with text contributes to student knowledge about the world and application to personal life. Whether approached efferently to gather information or aesthetically for enjoyment, there is no transaction if a meaning is not acquired. Rosenblatt believed responsibility falls on the teacher to connect students with texts and support developmental differences for gaining meaning. A teacher read-aloud is one mechanism for adolescents to relate to text, particularly if they are developmentally unable to do it alone.

An important perspective looks at the reader's attitude and its role in reading understanding. Repeated inability to obtain meaning can affect the attitude of the reader toward reading. A positive attitude leads to an intention to read, which then leads to the reading act itself (Mathewson, 2004). The combination of theories supports the idea that difficulties in decoding limit the focus on meaning. Recurring negative encounters with reading progress to lack of motivation and avoidance of written text, which is a typical symptom found with adolescent readers.

Secondary classrooms typically contain a mixture of reading abilities and motivations. Biancarosa and Snow (2006) found over 8 million adolescents have difficulty reading at grade level, with 70% needing additional guidance. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress statistics indicate 78% of eighth graders have reached a basic reading level (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). Of that total 78%, only 36% of that group is considered proficient or showing solid academic performance and competency. Most middle grade classes have a wide spectrum of abilities and interests with average reading abilities becoming progressively higher each year (Ivey & Broaddus, 2001; Manzo, Manzo, & Thomas, 2005). However, the ability range widens further as some students with reading difficulties could not progress the expected full year and others rapidly outpaced the norm (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006).

As students progress through older grades, the reading materials become more challenging, abstract, and specifically focused toward different disciplines. Textbooks remain an important resource and are designed to provide information for students in an efficient and sequentially organized manner. However, content area texts can often be a struggle for students to read and understand (Sheridan-Thomas, 2014). Each subject area has unique knowledge requirements that change the language, vocabulary, organization, and purpose of what students must read and understand (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2014). With inadequate prior knowledge or experience with challenging texts, students may lack the strategies to comprehend the reading of multiple texts in science, literature, math, or history.

The ultimate goal of reading is to gain meaning from print (Goodman, 2000; Ruddell & Unrau, 2004; Rumelhart, 1985; Smith, 2003). This general goal applies to reading print with any age group, language, or genre. However, this broad interpretation of reading does not address the many complexities involved in the process of learning and successfully continuing to understand written texts.

An elaborate combination of individual factors simultaneously work together and help any reader to comprehend print or ideas from another source. McKenna and Stahl (2009) suggest that reading comprehension relies on three components: automatic word recognition, language comprehension, and strategic knowledge. Automatic word recognition is built from decoding unknown words, sight word knowledge, and fluent reading in context; these factors all combine to give readers the ability to automatically read words and devote attention to understanding the text. Language comprehension helps readers understand what is read through vocabulary development, background knowledge, and knowledge of structural patterns in text. Readers then need to understand the purpose for reading and utilize the appropriate strategic knowledge to obtain meaning from text. Without these multiple components, a reader will struggle to understand what is read (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974).

The primary focus of this study is the use of teacher read aloud to address the issues that adolescent readers may encounter as they attempt to comprehend content area text. Specifically, teacher read aloud can be a way to remove the processing problems readers encounter when word recognition is not automatic. This method can be used as teacher modeling of appropriate strategies for gaining meaning from text. The value of teacher read-aloud is that it can be used to address decoding, language comprehension, and strategic processing difficulties for struggling readers. Teacher read-aloud eliminates cognitive struggle and allows the listener to concentrate on meaning, which in turn affects reactions and comprehension during the reading task.

READ-ALOUD PRACTICES

Reading aloud to children has been considered an important part of literacy development for many years. Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985) claimed that reading aloud to children is the single most important component of early successful reading. Research shows the value of read-aloud by parent, teacher, or any older fluent reader for young children's beginning literacy development (Fisher, Flood, Lapp, & Frey, 2004). Read-aloud provides a model of fluent reading and helps listeners learn not only the conventions of language but text elements, vocabulary, and strategies (Elley, 1989; Morrow, 1988). Equally important, it provides a foundation for younger readers to develop the affective aspects of literacy by developmentally building on the emotional connection to texts (Feitelsen, Kita, & Goldstein, 1986).

Common wisdom suggests as students become more fluent readers, the read-aloud becomes less important in reading development. However research studies of older students indicate slower, less fluent readers receive the greatest benefits from teacher read-aloud (Herrold, Stanchfield, & Serabian, 1989; Meloy, Deville, & Frisbie, 2002). Oral reading of text removes the struggle to decode complex text and allows the listener to focus attention on meaning (Richardson, 1994). Hearing the text orally is a great equalizer of the multiple reading abilities found in a regular classroom because students of varied reading abilities can discuss, analyze, and participate with complex writings.

Middle school instructors are most likely to consider chapter books, textbooks, and current events as beneficial teacher read-aloud sources for adolescents (Albright & Ariail, 2005; Jacobs, Morrison, & Swinyard, 2000; Lickteig & Russell, 1993). Researchers observing classroom reading found model instruction would include quality literature, relevance to other topics, lively discussion, varied response and extension activities, teacher preparation/planning, and a fluent reading model (Fisher et al., 2004; Hoffman, Roser, & Battle, 1993). Other content area instructors have used reading aloud as a teaching strategy and offer suggestions on selecting appropriate and motivating texts (McCormick & McTigue, 2011; Verden, 2012). Generally, success of the teacher read-aloud projects could be attributed to the enthusiasm and quality of the individual teachers implementing the strategy. Because this information was not provided in some studies, implementation and presentation factors may be part of the effectiveness with older students.

Ivey and Broaddus (2001) conducted a large-scale research project to determine motivation factors for middle school student reading. The authors administered a survey to 1,765 sixth grade students in 23 schools from two different regions of the United States. Participants were able to give multiple reasons they were motivated to read through open-ended questions, short answers, and checklists. Ivey and Broaddus reported 63% of all students surveyed preferred free reading time. Also, 62% chose a preference for the teacher reading out loud over multiple options, among which were book discussion groups, students reading aloud, class novels, or reading plays or poetry aloud. Overall results indicated teacher read-aloud and free reading time were the most favored activities for reading motivation and school enjoyment. Similar to conclusions found by Palmer, Codling, and Gambrell (1994), Ivey and Broaddus (2001) also saw teacher read-aloud as a scaffold to understanding because the teacher could make the text more comprehensible or interesting for different reading levels. The strong preference for teacher read-aloud indicates an untapped resource for motivating many older students.

PURPOSE OF STUDY

The purpose of this study was to examine teacher read-aloud of the textbook in seventh and eighth grade science classes. Research focused on an additional component not investigated in previous studies involving the impact of individual reading ability on teacher read-aloud as an instructional aid. In addition, the attitudes of students and teachers toward the teacher read-aloud intervention were investigated.

The research questions guiding this study were:

1. Does teacher read-aloud have an impact on student learning of science content?

2. How do attitudes of students toward teacher read-aloud vary when accounting for individual reading ability?

METHOD

A sequential mixed methods explanatory design was used to answer the two research questions (Creswell, 2003). Priority was given to the collection and analyses of quantitative data followed by collection and analyses of qualitative data. The quantitative and qualitative data were integrated to provide a broader interpretation of results.

Participants

This study focused on seventh and eighth grade students at one public suburban school site outside a large metropolitan city. All 80 participants were part of the science classes taught by one instructor over a 10-week instructional period. Sixty-three of those providing results were Caucasian, 7 were African American, 6 Hispanic, and 4 were Asian/ Pacific or some other ethnicity. The group contained 6 students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch and 6 had an Individual Education Plan. This sample is representative of a high socioeconomic school with motivated students and active involvement from the community. Looking specifically at numbers by grade level, the study contained 46 eighth grade participants and 34 seventh graders. All students participated in the planned units and activities, but only data from students with signed parental consent and student assent forms were used in the final analysis.

Materials

Two consecutive science units for each grade were selected from the state-selected science texts. Two university professors, external to the study, reviewed the chapters and verified they were equivalent in content, vocabulary, text length, and time requirements. The classroom information, written text, activities, and assessments were based on the content from the science textbook and the school's science curriculum goals.

Measurement Instruments

Reading Assessments. The reading portion of the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth Edition was administered to all students early in the school year. The total reading score was based on the combined reading and vocabulary subtests. This provided a national percentile ranking for each student before the research study began.

Concept Maps. Concepts maps were used to measure student learning of the science unit content. The use of concept maps has become a more commonly used assessment in science and mathematics over the last 30 years. Novak introduced the idea of concept mapping in 1977 as another way for instructors to meaningfully evaluate what students learn (Rafferty & Flesher, 1993). The two main parts of concept maps are the actual mapping task and the evaluation/scoring process (McClure, Sonak, & Suen, 1999). The map drawing is a graphic representation consisting of circled nodes that refer to concepts and solid lines with linking words showing relationships between the nodes. The combination of two nodes and a labeled line is considered a complete proposition (McWhirter, 1998). According to Ruiz-Primo, Schultz, Li, and Shavelson (1998), the two primary types of concept maps require students to either fill in the map with an imposed structure or construct the map freely. Concept maps provide an alternative to traditional tests containing multiple-choice or true-false exams. The intent is to show meaningful relationships between new concepts and permit creativity in student responses (Novak, 1998). Research has found concept map assessment to be sound for assessing conceptual change (Markham, Mintzes, & Jones, 1994) with a learning outcome higher or equivalent to non-mapping evaluation techniques (Barenholz & Tamir, 1992).

For successful concept mapping evaluation, it is important for students to have experience with the construction process. The majority of students ranging from middle school to college age can learn to map in one to two learning sessions with little or no help from the teacher (Barenholz, & Tamir, 1992; Markham et. al., 1994). Suggestions for quality concept maps and reliable scores include keeping the task simple, scoring with a student-constructed map compared to a master map, and limiting required concepts to approximately 15 for middle school students (Anderson & Huang, 1989; McClure et al., 1999).

A concept map was developed for each of the two units in seventh and eighth grades. Students were given the topic prompts and categories for every concept map test. The concept map tests measured short-term and long-term learning over the course of the research study. One master concept map-scoring template was developed for evaluating student learning in each of the four units.

Several scoring methods are available for concept map assessment. The simplest maps to grade were "fill-in-the-map" where some of the concepts and linking words have been left out; however, "construct-a-map" scores were found to be the most accurate reflection of subject knowledge (Ruiz-Primo et al., 1998). Scoring rubrics varied from a 5-point scale for each proposition (Ruiz-Primo et. al., 1998) to one point for each correct proposition (McWhirter, 1998). Based on the content of the science chapters and the age level of research participants, a "fill-in-the-map" was used and the simpler form of scoring one point for each correct proposition provided the model most appropriate for this research. Interrater reliability was determined for this instrument by measuring the proportion of agreements with opportunities for agreements. After converting that figure to a percentage scale, there was an 83% agreement between the two concept map graders.

Attitude Surveys. After completing both science units, all students completed a 10-question attitude survey with four response options varying from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." A reading attitude score was computed based on the six questions concerning the teacher read-aloud from the attitude survey.

Interviews. Face-to-face interviews using open-ended questions were conducted with eight different students. All interviews were transcribed, coded, and categorized to fit into one of four major topics showing support of teacher read-aloud, a dislike of teacher read-aloud, student reading strategies, or suggestions for quality read-aloud.

An interview was also conducted with the science teacher at the conclusion of the research project. The interview was transcribed, coded, and categorized into three major topics: value of teacher read-aloud, suggestions for research and implementation, and research observations.

Procedures

Participants were in five self-contained classes of seventh and eighth grade science students. A counterbalanced design allowed all groups to receive both treatments of teacher read-aloud and silent reading over two consecutive units of study.

During the first weeks of school, all seventh and eighth grade students were given the reading and vocabulary portions of the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-9) during their regular reading class. Then the students began a series of ongoing practice sessions with concept maps in three different subject areas (reading, social studies, and science) involving three different teachers. This was designed to familiarize all students with the development, implementation, and evaluation of concept maps.

Both grades began the study during the first week of October. Before any reference to the unit or text, students were asked to complete a concept map over the upcoming topic to demonstrate their background knowledge and this provided a pretest score. After randomly assigning the classes as treatment or control, the science teacher simultaneously began the first units over cell structure in seventh and minerals in eighth grades. All classroom procedures, assignments, activities, time frame, and assessments throughout both units were exactly the same except for the method of reading text. The science teacher orally read small portions of a lesson to the treatment classes and stopped at predetermined places for notes and discussion. The control classes read the same sections silently in 5 to 10 minute sections, then continued with the same notes and discussion session. At the conclusion of unit one, students were given the same concept map prompt for their posttest. This initial section of the study was completed during the first week of November.

Unit two began during the second week of November. The five classes traded treatment groups to allow all the participants to be part of both teacher read-aloud and silent reading. After completing a pretest concept map over the upcoming section on cell reproduction in seventh and rocks in eighth grades, students progressed through the chapter in a similar format and structure as the earlier unit. A final posttest was given to every class during the last school week in December before the holiday break.

In January, the science teacher returned to his regular classroom curriculum and procedures while final data collection was completed. The first delayed posttest was administered outside of science class during the first week of January. The second delayed posttest over unit two was completed the last week of January. This allowed a minimum of 4 weeks wait time for each unit. After all students completed their attitude surveys in mid-January, eight students (bounded by grade, gender, attitude, and reading ability) were selected for individual interviews. The science teacher also participated in an interview during January.

RESULTS

Quantitative

Quantitative results required the transformation of some data results prior to SPSS analysis. Each of the four concept maps had a different total number of correct responses so it was necessary to standardize the raw scores for comparison across the different units of study. Since the shapes of distributions on concept map scores were not similar, translation rather than z-scores was selected as the appropriate transformation so that the relative meaning of an individual raw score within each distribution remained the same across all distributions (Weinberg & Abramowitz, 2002).

A 2 x 3 repeated measures analyses of variance was used to examine the impact of teacher read-aloud on student learning. Concept map scores were obtained at three points in time. Analyses examined the effect of treatment (teacher read-aloud or silent reading), test, and the interaction of the two variables. Results indicated a significant main effect for seventh grade tests (F (2, 66) = 357.267, p = .000) and eighth grade tests (F (2, 58) = 1071.115, p = .000) over time (Table 1). Combined results from group means and repeated measures analyses suggest students showed an overall learning growth over the course of two units. The means for the two treatment groups had similar patterns of gain from pretest to posttest and decline from posttest to delayed posttest, but not to the level of the pretest means (Table 2). Simple comparison indicated the differences from pretest to posttest, posttest to delayed posttest, and pretest to delayed posttest were significantly different at each grade level. Both teacher read-aloud and silent reading were appropriate for student learning, but mean differences between the treatments do not support either teacher read-aloud or silent reading method as superior over the other. There was no significant difference between the two treatment groups at either grade level, and the treatment by test interaction was not significant for seventh or eighth graders. Thus, both teacher read-aloud and silent reading approaches are acceptable methods for student learning in science.

In order to examine the impact of the two treatments when accounting for individual reading ability, four multiple regression analyses were conducted and analyzed using the posttest or delayed posttest scores for both the silent and read-aloud treatment groups as the dependent variable, and student reading ability scores treatment and the interaction of treatment and reading ability as independent variables. One of the four models showed a significant interaction between treatment and reading ability. This specific model examined the concept map delayed posttest scores for students studying rocks in eighth grade and cell reproduction in seventh. Specifically, this analysis showed a significant interaction between treatment and reading ability.

Additional regression analyses were used to further examine the relationship between ability and treatment. Two separate regression equations were computed for each treatment in order to interpret the interaction effect. Results from this analysis showed that as reading ability increases, students gain more from the teacher read-aloud procedure. This does not support the earlier expectation that teacher read-aloud was most likely to help lower ability students. The read-aloud treatment seems to favor high ability readers when their learning is measured through concept map assessments.

Because of the structure of a counterbalanced design, higher scores on the second unit of study balanced out lower scores on the first unit. To illustrate, in the eighth grade the scores for minerals in the first unit of study were combined with the scores for rocks in the second unit. The students did much better on the delayed posttest over rocks due to history in the form of the science teacher's extrinsic motivation. Therefore, the higher scores during the rocks unit brought up the lower scores of the minerals unit. A similar phenomenon occurred in the seventh grade data. Had the history not occurred, this repeated measures analysis might have provided a different result.

This idea is supported somewhat by the regression model for reading ability, treatment, and the interaction of treatment and ability as predictors for the delayed posttest scores during the first unit of study. This regression resulted in 23.5% of the R-square being explained, and the model was significant. It is likely that this model reflects the long-term learning over 4 weeks without the intervention of the history previously described. However, there was no measure for motivation built into this study to determine if any variance could be explained in that way. Based on the two points discussed above, the history and the significant regression model, additional pairs of repeated measures analyses were conducted for exploratory purposes. Four separate 2 (treatment) x 3 (testing time) repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted as follows:

* Unit one seventh grade data

* Unit one eighth grade data

* Unit two seventh grade data

* Unit two eighth grade data

If history were a factor in the outcome of the study, one might predict that treatment and the time by treatment interaction would be significant for unit one. This was the case for the seventh grade data set (F (2,66) = 357.267, p = .000) and the seventh grade results (mean for delayed posttest read-aloud = 12.24, mean for delayed posttest silent reading = 11.15) favored the read-aloud procedure. Although this was purely exploratory, it does point to a need for more investigation into the validity of this instructional method.

A final quantitative analysis involved the comparison of reading ability and the student attitudes toward teacher read-aloud. Using the attitude score ranging from 6 to 25, a lower score indicated a favorable attitude toward the teacher reading and a higher score showed a dislike of the treatment. A correlation between the attitude score and student reading ability showed a significant positive relationship (r = .263, p < .05) between these two measures. A scatterplot displayed the distribution of scores for this correlation.

Scrutiny of the scatterplot indicated two interesting ideas concerning reading ability and teacher read-aloud. First, when the scatterplot was examined by quadrants, the lower, right quarter showing low reading ability and dislike for teacher read-aloud remained empty. This indicated there were no students reading below the 50th percentile from this population who disliked the teacher reading aloud in class. A second observation required visually dividing the graph along the X-axis into two equal parts. This showed the majority of students of all reading abilities favored teacher read-aloud as an instructional aid. Even including the six midpoint scores as part of the negative total, those 17 of the 80 total participants comprised 22% of the population. Viewed another way, this research found 78% of the adolescent participants had a favorable attitude toward teacher read-aloud.

Qualitative

The primary source for the qualitative data analyses came from the interviews with eight students and the science teacher. The science instructor's overall perspective on the research project was the first component of qualitative analysis. The interview was transcribed and any researcher observations were noted on the transcription. After rereading and grouping comments by similarity, the transcription was color-coded by groups and showed three general themes. This initial analysis was temporarily suspended for later comparison with student interview results.

Student selection for interviews was based on grade, gender, reading ability, and attitude toward teacher read-aloud. Students were considered for interviews if their reading score was below the 40th percentile or above the 60th percentile. Seventeen of the eighty participants could be classified as neutral or disliking teacher read-aloud; this represented 22% of the total population in the research. To maintain an equivalent percentage in interviews, two participants were chosen who disliked teacher read-aloud and the other six showed a favorable attitude toward the intervention. Final selections for interviews were based on equal number of boys and girls, seventh and eighth graders, and high or low reading ability.

Based on Merriam's (1998) procedures for case studies, analysis began by taking notes to look for potential themes in the first interview conducted. Next, a separate list of themes was compiled for the second interview. These two lists were compared and a shorter group of categories began to emerge. This master list was used to initially analyze the remaining six interviews. Any additional categories were added and four mutually exclusive categories were established and named.

Interview transcripts were then color coded by the four broad topics and three subcategories that directly related to the research questions. An additional document combined all student statements compiled by categories to propose general trends or themes. The last analysis compared the four student categories with the three teacher themes. This provided an overall holistic description and analysis of both student and teacher perspectives toward teacher read-aloud.

All interviews were completed by the primary investigator; sessions were based on recommended practices and researcher attributes throughout the data collection and interpretation. According to Merriam (1998), an investigator responsible for gathering and analyzing qualitative data is limited by being human and can be a fallible instrument during data collection. The characteristics needed for this type of research include a tolerance for ambiguity during the process, a sensitivity to data and biases, and the communication skills of empathy, rapport, and listening. All sessions were conducted with awareness of personal biases and sensitivity to integrity of the research.

The first major theme listed described the value of teacher read-aloud for students. The students found oral reading of text was helpful in three areas: learning new vocabulary, reading text with an accompanying discussion/ explanation, and an opportunity to gather important details. The teacher's perspective found the read-aloud treatment worthwhile because it offered a good way to present difficult concepts and the students appeared to have a high level of attention and participation.

A second theme focused on disadvantages of teacher read-aloud. The only complaint came from two of the high reading ability students. The teacher read-aloud rate was much slower than their independent reading speed and this difference was very frustrating and distracting. The perspectives of these two students were so remarkably similar that it is likely they represent a common frustration of advanced readers forced to endure a group recitation that would easily be completed independently.

A third theme offered suggestions to improve the quality of teacher read-aloud in middle school classrooms. The students and teacher both valued the teacher having expression, good reading rate, and a voice easily understood and heard. The teacher mentioned the importance of preparation and enthusiasm for the subject. While students failed to mention this specific instructor quality, it is unlikely any listeners would benefit from mispronunciations, broken reading, and boredom from the teacher.

A subcategory developed under the theme covering suggestions for quality teacher read-aloud. It was first addressed when the science teacher mentioned the importance of variety and an awareness of multiple learning styles in every classroom. Several students suggested implementing teacher read-aloud with some flexibility, allowing students the option of going ahead independently if they chose. This practice would provide the assistance for students who need it, but not restrict those who were comfortable on their own. Dreher's (2003) high school literature classes found success with this type of flexible format by allowing students to choose independent, group, or teacher read-aloud of text. This adaptable kind of practice would provide students with some needed assistance while fostering the autonomy of adolescent learners.

A final theme from interviews was focused on student awareness of their individual abilities. Each of the interview participants was very realistic and willing to talk about his or her own strengths and weaknesses. They were all able to articulate some type of strategy for resolving difficulties when reading. While responses were as different as the individual personalities, the students had each identified a way to focus their attention on a difficult text and use some type of aid (dictionary, picture, concept map, peer) to give the text meaning.

DISCUSSION

Two intervening issues could have affected the quantitative results in this study. First, there is a sizeable difference in the number of high ability and lower ability participants in the study. Fifty-nine of the 80 participants could be classified as reading above the 50th percentile. This large percentage of high ability students is not typical of the general population or a normal distribution. In addition, any outlier or unusual score from a low ability reader has a strong effect on that group's mean scores. The distribution of this particular school's population is strongly skewed toward high ability students and does not give equivalent representation to students falling below the 50th percentile in reading ability.

Also of interest were the higher average scores for both the higher and lower ability groups on their delayed posttests scores from the second unit. A second intervening issue occurred during the time between the first and second delay posttests given in January. Since the researcher and the science teacher shared the grading of the concept maps, as scores were compiled the science teacher was very surprised by the overall lack of retention on the delayed posttest scores for the first unit. The research design process and Institutional Review Board guidelines had determined the delayed posttest be administered outside of the science class by the researcher to limit any potential stress on the adolescent participants. As a result, the students felt no pressure to complete the concept map to any specific standard. The science teacher informally asked several students why their responses were so brief and limited; the students replied it was not for a grade and they didn't think it really mattered. The science teacher chose to review the first unit of study with each grade and spent additional time with students learning the content because he was concerned about their long-term learning. When the time came to take the second delayed posttest at the end of January, the student response was completely different from unit one. Several students com mented that even though it wasn't for a grade, they realized their teacher was aware of their scores and they did not want to do unit two again. This unplanned instructional session could have motivated the students to try harder on the unit two delayed posttests since students realized their performance was monitored.

Analysis of the teacher and student interviews provided additional information and insights. Support for the intervention from the teacher's interview was found in his awareness that adolescents thrive on variety and the likelihood of problems if teacher read-aloud was used too often. While it is important to help students with difficult text, it is equally valuable to avoid restricting fluent readers from independent learning. In addition, suggestions from research participants support the current findings on high-quality, model read-aloud characteristics (Albright & Ariail, 2005; Fisher et al., 2004, Hoffman et al., 1993). Teachers who choose to use read-aloud should preview the text and provide a purpose for the practice. It should be delivered fluently, with expression, and provide opportunities for discussion and explanation during the time the teacher is reading.

The varied responses from student perspectives mirror the ability differences typical in middle school classes. Students value the opportunity to choose their strategy for reading any text. Successful implementations of read-aloud include an alternate activity for students wishing to move more rapidly than the oral reading speed (Dreher, 2003). Interview participants were aware of their own learning challenges and selected the reading activity that was most beneficial to their purpose. When given the opportunity to explain meaningful learning, the voices of students are extremely insightful and informative for an attentive instructor who wants these individuals to succeed.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Results from this study have some practical implications for teachers in middle and high school classes. Teacher read-aloud has typically been considered most appropriate for young children and early literacy development. As children grow and develop, the need for teacher modeling begins to change and students move to reading independently on a regular basis. However, older students can benefit from teacher read-aloud in several situations. This type of presentation is helpful when students must work with difficult texts containing new vocabulary. A teacher read-aloud is also appropriate to demonstrate pronunciation, model fluent reading, and help readers develop the ability to visualize beyond the written words of a text. The practice can help provide differentiated instruction for the varied reading abilities and motivations typical within classrooms. Finally, a read-aloud has positive implications for many middle school students by providing a helpful scaffold for lower ability readers with mature reasoning ability, allowing them to move their concentration from decoding words to the comprehension of new ideas found in texts. Teacher read-aloud is a frequently overlooked but an appropriate and potentially valuable strategy for adolescent learners.

When implementing teacher read-aloud with older students, it is important to consider student preferences when using this method of instruction. Student response showed a high level of concern for individual choice and classroom dynamics when using teacher read-aloud. Some students do not benefit from this practice and would be better suited to independent reading. Allowing some choice and flexibility in implementation could improve learning for students and accommodate different learning styles or ability levels in a class. Teachers should also be cautious about relying too heavily on this oral presentation and make the teacher read-aloud one component of the classroom learning.

Another important area to consider when implementing teacher read-aloud is the consistent and reflective use of high quality practices. Students value an oral presentation that includes expression, preparation, and enthusiasm. Teachers wanting to use teacher read-aloud effectively should make certain the material is valuable to student learning, prepare to provide a fluent reading model, provide accompanying activities to promote learning, and select a manageable amount of text capable of holding students' attention. Activities should include using small amounts of text with accompanying discussion, connections to other texts and ideas, and opportunities for independent or small group responses. Subject area requirements and the age of students would determine which activities are most conducive for adolescent learning.

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The findings from this study were drawn from a small population in a high socioeconomic school district. Many of the students came from high-achieving families who were very involved in school and community activities. The school climate reflected the surrounding community and the majority of students were motivated by good grades, viewing them as a sign of academic success. Due to the high SES status of the participants, caution should be used when generalizing the results of this specific study to a dissimilar population.

The only tool used to measure student learning in this study were the concept map scores. The validity of this one assessment may not accurately reflect reading comprehension, student learning, or growth. In addition, there was no measure of student motivation and how it would contribute to individual learning and school success.

There were only six items used to measure student attitudes toward teacher read-aloud. A small number of statements were placed together in two sequential groupings that openly addressed the read-aloud treatment. A random mixture of the attitude statements may have yielded different results.

The teacher read-aloud was under the guidance of one instructor, and his teaching style and classroom procedures were integral to all results of the study and would have influenced any results. The primary researcher was employed full-time in the school before, during, and after the research study. The researcher was also the reading teacher of all seventh and eighth grade participants who were not on an IEP.

Sylvia Hurst and

University of Central Oklahoma

Priscilla Griffity

University of Oklahoma

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* Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Sylvia Hurst, shurst5@uco.edu

TABLE 1
Treatment, Test, and Interaction Analysis of Variance for Seventh
and Eighth Grades

Source                df       SS          MS           F       Sig.

Seventh Grade
  Treatment Error      1        2.373       2.373        .081   .778
                      33      968.627      29.352
  Test Error           2   11,021.324   5,510.662     357.267   .000
                      66    1,018.010      15.424
  Interaction Error    2       21.539      10.770        .809   .450
                      66      878.461      13.310

Eighth Grade
  Treatment Error      1       22.050      22.050        .310   .582
                      29    2,062.783      71.130
  Test Error           2    9,205.433   4,602.717   1,071.115   .000
                      58      249.233       4.297
  Interaction Error    2       18.033       9.017        .338   .715
                      58    1,548.633      26.701

TABLE 2
Group Means and Standard Deviations for Counterbalanced Concept Maps

Treatment                          Pretest    SD    Posttest    SD
                                    Means            Means

Seventh grade teacher read-aloud    5.35     1.50    23.32     3.33
Seventh grade silent reading        5.82     1.71    23.29     2.69
Eighth grade teacher read-aloud     5.93     5.13    24.17     1.68
Eighth grade silent reading         7.33     4.70    24.03     1.50

Treatment                           Delayed      SD
                                   Post Means

Seventh grade teacher read-aloud     12.24      5.92
Seventh grade silent reading         11.15      7.08
Eighth grade teacher read-aloud      13.80      6.34
Eighth grade silent reading          14.63      6.92

TABLE 3
Regression--Model One

Model One

Model    R     R Square   Adjusted R   Std. Error of
                            Square     the Estimate

1       .325     .106        .071          2.616

ANOVA

Model 1      Sum of    df    Mean      F     Sig.
             Squares        Square

Regression   61.618    3    20.539   3.000   .036
Residual     520.270   76   6.846
Total        581.888   79

Coefficients

Model 1        Unstandardized      Standardized     t      Sig.
               Coefficients        Coefficients

               B      Std. Error       Beta

(Constant)   23.320      .505                     46.138   .000
Treatment     .449       .623          .079        .719    .474
Read Abil.    .000       .022          .003        .017    .986
Product       .044       .027          .318       1.657    .102

Table 4
Regression--Model Two

Model Two

Model    R     R Square   Adjusted   Std. Error of
                          R Square   the Estimate

2       .485     .235       .205        4.40494

ANOVA

Model 2       Sum of    df    Mean       F     Sig.
             Squares         Square

Regression   453.283    3    151.094   7.787   .000
Residual     1474.667   76   19.404
Total        1927.950   79

Coefficients

Model 2      Unstandardized       Standardized     t     Sig.
             Coefficients         Coefficients

               B     Std. Error       Beta

(Constant)   7.102      .851                     8.346   .000
Treatment    1.803     1.050          .175       1.718   .090
Read Abil.   -.036      .037         -.176       -.981   .330
Product      .149       .045          .590       3.325   .001

Table 5
Regression--Model Three

Model Three

Model    R     R Square   Adjusted R   Std. Error of
                            Square     the Estimate

3       .163     .027       -.012         2.38728

ANOVA

Model 3      Sum of    df    Mean     F     Sig.
             Squares        Square

Regression   11.857    3    3.952    .693   .559
Residual     433.131   76   5.699
Total        444.987   79

Coefficients

Model 3      Unstandardized        Standardized     t      Sig.
             Coefficients          Coefficients

               B      Std. Error       Beta

(Constant)   23.331      .461                     50.591   .000
Treatment     .440       .569          .089        .774    .442
Read Abil.    .013       .020          .131        .647    .519
Product       .003       .024          .022        .112    .911

Table 6
Regression--Model Four

Model Four

Model    R     R Square   Adjusted   Std. Error of
                          R Square   the Estimate

4       .154     .024      -.015        5.31205

ANOVA

Model 4       Sum of    df    Mean     F     Sig.
             Squares         Square

Regression    51.926    3    17.309   .613   .608
Residual     2144.562   76   28.218
Total        2196.488   79

Coefficients

Model 4      Unstandardized        Standardized     t      Sig.
             Coefficients          Coefficients

               B      Std. Error       Beta

(Constant)   16.523     1.026                     16.102   .000
Treatment    1.205      1.266          .110        .952    .344
Read Abil.   -.035       .045         -.158       -.781    .437
Product       .042       .054          .154        .767    .446
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Author:Hurst, Sylvia; Griffity, Priscilla
Publication:Middle Grades Research Journal
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Date:Mar 22, 2015
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