Reading for Life : Three Studies of Swedish Students’ Literacy Development

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to explore school classes with a higher level of achievement in reading than could be expected, with regard to socio-economic background factors and language background. What do those classes practice? Which attitudes towards reading and schooling do those children and their teachers display? The teacher and the classroom environment are in particular focus. The thesis is based on three studies. Firstly, over-achieving and underachieving grade three-classes in reading are compared in a large-scale statistical study. Reading tests, student questionnaires and teacher questionnaires provided data. The results indicate that a positive classroom climate, frequent voluntary reading, the use of authentic literature and many years of teaching experience characterise the over-achieving classes. In a second study eight over-achieving classes, in the same data material were in focus. The schools were located in a low-income, low-education multicultural suburban area. In-depth interviews were performed with adults active in those classes at the time of the data collection. The joint analyses of quantitative and qualitative data indicate that teachers’ ways of relating to their students is important as the Deficit Discourse is replaced by future oriented pedagogy with features such as aesthetic activities, dynamic assessment, strong raming, abundant reading of fiction and a lot of writing. In a third smaller, qualitative study five young university students, former students in one of the targeted classes in the second study, were interviewed in-depth about their school experiences and their Future Time Perspective. The informants emphasize the importance of being acknowledged in school, reading competency and knowledge of oral and written Swedish as factors for success.

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