Unlike the ample research on general attributions for student failure, causes for poor reading performance among students have attracted little attention. The purpose of this descriptive, exploratory study was to investigate the extent to which specific attributions teachers held for reading difficulties were related to the interventions they used to address them. Teachers' attributions for the magnitude of student progress were also examined. The study also identified school and district supports and professional development activities which benefited teachers in their work with struggling readers. Seven first-grade teachers and 9 fifth-grade "Beat the Odds" teachers who were identified as being effective in raising student reading performance were interviewed. The data were analyzed to identify patterns that emerged from teacher responses and descriptive statistical methods were used to summarize teacher responses.
Results of the study indicated that study participants across both grades were more likely to make self-serving attributions, rather than counter-defensive attributions, for general student problems. When student reading difficulties were attributed to within-student factors, first-grade teachers tended to use instructional strategies while the use of affective strategies was more common among fifth-grade teachers. The school where the teachers taught appeared to be a more important factor in determining whether teachers used home-related interventions than home-related attributions held by teachers. No clear attribution-intervention link was evident when teachers made school-related attributions. Unlike first-grade teachers who were more likely to attribute reading progress to instructional interventions, fifth-grade teachers were more likely to attribute both progress and lack of student progress to within-student factors.
A strong belief in the importance of their work, a systematic approach in analyzing student difficulties, compassion for and acknowledgement of the uniqueness of individual students, holding all students to high expectations and willingness to tailor instruction to student needs were the hallmarks of the "Beat the Odds" teachers. They were supported by systems within the school and the district which identified students with difficulties. Opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues and in-service training were most commonly cited as being the most beneficial and relevant to these teachers' work with struggling readers.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2009. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Prof James Ysseldyke. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 178 pages, appendices 1-4.
Tan, Chee Soon.
An exploratory study of the relationships between teachers' general attributions, specific attributions for reading difficulties and treatments..
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.