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Quantitative Studies

Thinking and Doing Literature: An 8-Year Study

by Judith A. Langer English Journal, v87 n2 p16-23 Feb 1998

Keywords: elementary school, middle school, high school


A series of studies conducted over an 8-year period by the National Research Center on Literature Teaching and Learning examined the ways people think when they read literature and the ways in which instruction could support those kinds of thinking. The research studies were based on both a constructivist and social/communicative tradition. Some 10 field researchers collaborated with about 50 teachers and their students. The participating classes included pre-kindergartners through adults, with a major emphasis on the middle and high school grades.

The studies demonstrated the ways in which the open-ended exploratory nature of considering possibilities from a variety of stances helps enrich and complicate meaning. It was also learned that supporting students' development of literary understanding is often difficult for teachers to sustain for lack of instructional models.

Findings led to the development of an alternative pedagogy and procedures for ongoing assessments of students' progress.

Interactions with students convinced the researchers that literature and storytelling can play an important role in enriching students' understanding across subject areas, and the process of exploring horizons of possibilities can be helpful in content classes even when literature is not read and point of reference learning is the goal.

(Contains 16 references.)

Click here to read the report.

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