Date of Award

5-14-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Speaker, Richard

Second Advisor

Bedford, April

Third Advisor

Chauvin, Jane

Fourth Advisor

Dermody, Margaret

Abstract

This qualitative phenomenological study explored the perceptions and experiences of the middle school students who participated in learning center support as elementary students in independent schools. There were 16 participants from three sites included in the study: six students, seven parents, and three learning specialists. The research questions guiding this study included: (1) What are the perspectives of students on the impact of the learning center experience in regard to reading development? (2) How does the child's discernment of how he or she is perceived academically by his or her reading teacher contribute to/hinder the process of learning to read? (3) How does a child's sensitivity to being identified as needing extra support in learning to read affect/support the experience? (4) What do students, parents, and teachers think about learning centers? (5) How do children perceive reading teacher effectiveness and successful reading instruction? (6) How does a child's perception of a model of reading intervention inform the planning of teachers, interventionists, and reading specialists? (7) What do students think about the activities they participate during learning center time? Literature reviewed for the study included the existence of the reading problem in the United States, models of reading intervention, strategies shown to accelerate reading growth, teacher knowledge, and student perspectives. Data was collected in the form of interviews and observations, and was reviewed in consideration of narrative inquiry, typological analysis, and polyvocal analysis. All participant responses were considered across cases with specific attention given to the guiding research questions. The six students interviewed believed that their participation in the learning center helped them in some way. Some of them were able to verbalize what was helpful, while others provided few details. Nonetheless, the student participants offered specific recommendations on how to improve the learning center structure. Parent interviews shored up varying perspectives and recommendations for ways that the structure of the learning center should remain the same and also how it should change. Finally, learning specialists shared their views and experiences and added a richer understanding to the study in general. Three major themes emerged from the data. First, that students and parents attach a stigma to resource support. Second, that students and parents feel like they had to give something up because of their participation in the learning center. And third, methodological issues on the structure of the interviews were raised. Findings and current research were connected, and considerations for future research were made.

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The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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