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Content area literacy in the primary grades: Teachers' sense of efficacy in teaching narrative and informational text

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Christine Cherry Selman
Abstract:
Research has documented the scarcity of informational text and the overabundance of narrative text in the primary grades (Duke, 2000; Yopp & Yopp, 2006). The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine primary teachers' beliefs, or efficacy, in teaching narrative and informational text as well as assess their use of both text types in the classroom. Efficacy data were collected with a previously established questionnaire that had been slightly altered to assess efficacy in narrative and informational text. Two sub-categories made-up the efficacy measure for each type of text: teacher sense of efficacy in instructional strategies and teacher sense of efficacy in student engagement. Use of text was assessed with a researcher-created questionnaire that asked teachers to report frequency of specific types of narrative and informational texts used within one week in the classroom. Results indicated that primary teachers felt significantly more efficacious teaching narrative text as compared to informational text. Results also showed teachers' sense of efficacy in teaching each text type significantly correlated with their use of text type. Finally, contradicting previous research, results indicated teachers use more informational text than narrative text. Possible reasons for contradictory results and recommendations for future research are discussed. Lastly, recommendations for teachers, administrators, and other educators are provided. Recommendations include ways to increase effective use of informational text in the primary grades. Suggested strategies for teaching informational text include a focus of three areas: increasing student exposure to informational text, understanding text structure, and implementing effective instructional strategies.

CONTENT AREA LITERACY IN THE PRIMARY GRADES:

TEACHERS’ SENSE OF EFFICACY IN TEACHING NARRATIVE

AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT

by

Christine Cherry Selman

A Dissertation

Submitted to the Graduate School

of The University of Southern Mississippi

in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Approved:

__________ Hollie Filce ________________

Director

__________

Ellen Ramp _ ______________

__________ J.T. Johnson __________ __ ___

__________

Stacy Reeves _______ __ _____

__________

David Daves_ ___ __ _________

__________ Susan A Siltanen ____ __ ______

Dean of the Graduate School

May 2011

All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent on the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106 - 1346 UMI 3455455 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. UMI Number: 3455455

The University of Southern Mississippi

CONTENT AREA LITERACY IN THE PRIMARY GRADES:

TEACHERS’ SENSE OF EFFICACY IN TEACHING NARRATIVE

AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT

by

Christine Cherry Selman

Abstract of a Dissertation

Submitted to the Graduate School

of The University of Southern Mississippi

in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

May 2011

ABSTRACT

CONTENT AREA LITERACY IN THE PRIMARY GRADES:

TEACHERS’ SENSE OF EFFICACY IN TEACHING NARRATIVE

AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT

by Christine Cherry Selman

May 2011

Research has documented the scarcity of informational text and the overabundance of narrative text

in the primary grades (Duke, 2000; Yopp & Yopp, 2006). The purpose of this quantitative study was

to determine primary teachers’ beliefs , or efficacy,

in teaching narrative and informational text as well as assess their use of both text types in the class room. Efficacy data were collected with a previously established questionnaire that had been slightly altered to assess efficacy in narrative and informational text. Two sub - categories made - up the efficacy measure for each type of text: teacher sense of efficacy in instructional strategies and teacher sense of efficacy in student engagement. Use of text was assessed with a researcher - created

questionnaire that asked teachers to report frequency of

specific types of narrative and informational texts used with in one week in the classroom.

Results indi cated that primary teachers felt

significantly more efficacious teaching narrative text as compared to informational text. Results also showed teachers’ sense of efficacy in teaching each text type signific antly correlated with their use of text type. Finally, contradicting previous research, results indicated teachers use more informational text than narrative text.

Possible reasons for contradictory results and

recommendations for future research are di scussed.

ii

Lastly, recommendations for teachers, administrators, and other educators are

provided. Recommendations include ways to increase effective use of informati onal text in the primary grades.

Suggested strategies for teaching informational text includ e a focus of three areas: increasing student exposure to informational text, understanding text structure, and implementing effective instructional strategies.

i ii

COPYRIGHT BY

CHRISTINE CHERRY SELMAN

2011

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many people assisted

me in the completion of this dissertation , and I offer

them my sincerest appreciation. First I would like to thank my committee who willingly provided their expertise and guidance along the way. My committee chair, D r. Hollie Filce, was constructive, patient, and diligent, and I appreciate the way she coached me to think in different ways about my study . I am grateful for the many hours she spent helping me make this dissertation the best it could be.

Four other com mittee members also provided assistance. Dr. Ellen Ramp’s experience in the literacy field was a valuable component of this study. Additionally, her encouragement and wise counsel during the completion of this dissertation and throughout my doctoral progra m always came at the right time, and I am humbly grateful for

the opportunity to work with

her. Dr. J . T .

Johnson, my statistician, could not have been more patient and helpful. I appreciate his willingness to explain statistical analyses and offer input and guidance in understanding not only the intricate details of each variable ,

but the big picture as well. I am also grateful for Dr. David Daves and Dr. Stacy Reeves for their tough questions that encouraged me to think critically and consider alternativ e ways to approach this study . Their willingness to offer gu idance and

feedback

are greatly appreciated.

I could not have completed this journey witho ut the love and support from sweet family

and friends . My parents have always valued learning and provid ed opportunities for my sisters and me

to have excellent educations within caring environments. My love of learning and school c omes from them, and I am

grateful for all they have done for me.

My sisters, Julia Cherry and Susan Batchelder, and friends/fel low graduate assistants,

iv

Pam Allen and Judi Emerson , provided encouragement and laughter when I needed it most.

Since the first time earn ing a doctorate became a possibility, my husband Will has been supportive

and encouraging. He was both emotionall y and intellectually supportive: h e read numerous manuscripts, engaged in many educational discussions, provided encouragement on tough days, and at times, pulled a double - duty wi th household responsibilities. He’s the best husband, friend, and cheerleader a girl could have, and I look forward to our future together.

Most importantly , I thank God for the opportunities and blessings He has given me, and I pray I will humbly use them to have a positive impact on society.

v

TABLE OF

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………ii

ACKNOWLEDGM ENTS……………………………………………………………….iv

LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………… … .. . v i i i

CHAPTER

I.

INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………1

Background

Theoretical Framework

Statement of the Problem

Purpo se of the Study

Limitations, Delimitations, and Assumptions

Definition of Key Terms

Summary

II.

REVIEW O F THE LITERATURE…………………………………… ... 17

Introduction

Narrative and Informational Text

Teacher Efficacy

Student Engagement and Instructional Strategies

Conclusion

III.

ME THODOLOGY………………………………………………………58

Research Questions

Research Design

Participants

Data Collection

Instrumentation

Summary

IV.

RESULTS……….. ……………………………………………………… 73

Introduction

Demographics

Descriptive Statistics

Research Questions & Hypotheses

Summary

v i

V.

DISCUS SION……………...……………………………………………. 89

Summary of the Study

Findings and Conclusions

Recommendations for Policy and Practice

Future Research

Summary

APPENDIXES ………………………………………………………………………….107

REFERENCES …………………………………………………………………………124

vi i

LIST OF TABLES

Table

1.

Characteristics of Participants…………………………………………………... . 7 4

2.

Descriptive Statistics : Narrative Items………….. ………………………………. 78

3.

Descriptive Statistics :

Informational Items. ……………………………………... 8 1

4.

Descriptive Statistics : Frequency Chart …………………………………… …….8 4

v ii i

1

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Literacy skills are necessary for all students to be successful in life. The International Reading Association states that students “will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their perso nal lives” (1999, p.3). Literacy is the ability to read and comprehend written material in a variety of formats, as well as write to communicate one‟s ideas (Farris, Fuhler, & Walther, 2004). According to Vacca and Vacca (2008), literacy skills are a major

factor in student achievement across all content areas, not just in reading and language arts.

Due to low test scores, an increase in the demand for technology, and changes with standards and standardized testing, content area literacy in the middle and

high school grades has received much attention over the last decade (Moss, 2005). The term content area literacy

refers to the ability of students to read and comprehend information across subjects. Proponents of content area literacy believe that every teacher, regardless of subject area, should be able to assist students in read ing to comprehend text in his or her discipline

(Billmeyer, 2002). Instruction on how to read and comprehend in the content areas is essential for students to be successful (Duke , 2000 ;

Moss, 2005; Wood, 2002).

Most people associate the term content area literacy

with middle and high school students (Wood, 2002). Even though elementary students are not always included in discussions on content area literacy, it is essential for

instruction with that type of text to occur in the elementary grades (Moss, 2005; Wood, 2002). Usually, the term

2

informational text

is used to describe the same text that is referred to with content area literacy in the primary grades (Moss, 2005). The p rimary purpose of informational text is to convey information about the natural or social world (Duke, 2000). Thus, texts associated with science and social studies are often considered informational text as opposed to narrative text. On the contrary, na rrative text generally has characters, a setting, plot, conflict, and solution (Sanacore, 1991), and is

usually found in reading and language arts.

Narrative and informational texts differ in their purpose and structure (Moss, 2004). The purpose of nar rative texts is to tell a story, which contains characters, problems, solutions, and lessons learned (Dymock & Nicholson, 2007). Text structure is referred to as the way the material is presented to the reader (Moss, 2004). Narrative texts generally foll ow a story line; informational texts can be structured in one of five ways: description, cause and effect, compare and contrast, problem and solution, and sequencing (Neufeld, 2005).

The need for comprehending informational text is present in daily activi ties. Kletzien and Dreher (2004) claim that students are inundated with informational text (as opposed to narrative) later in schooling and in society; therefore, the ability to read and comprehend informational text is imperative. Moreover, Venezky (200 0) claims that schools‟ lack of attention to informational text is leaving students ill prepared for the demands in life. He uses the term “ chasm”

(p. 20)

to describe the disconnect between what students are learning, and what students need to know. Narr ative and informational text are different, and effective instruction with both is necessary for students to be successful in school and later in life (Duke, 2000). Proponents for content area

3

instruction in the primary grades understand the significance

of knowing how to read and comprehend informational text and the importance of b eginning that instruction early (Duke, 2000; Hall & Sabey, 2007; Kletzien &

Dreher , 2004; Moss, Reutzel, Smith, & Fawson, 2005; Venezky, 2000; Yopp & Yopp, 2000).

Background

The underlying theme for content area literacy is for students to be able to read to learn

in various subjects (Swafford & Kallus, 2002). The belief that content area literacy instruction is important for students of all ages is not a novel concept. Educat or William S. Gray advocated

literacy instruction across the contents for students of all ages as early as 1925. Though the idea has been around for years, content area literacy instruction for primary students has only recently received heightened atten tion and is becoming more popular and emphasized by educators. Moss (2005) credits increases in standards - based education and standardized testing, as well as the technological demands of the information age for the heightened attention to content area li teracy. An increase in standards - based education is evidenced by State Departments of Education requiring Language Arts frameworks to include standards for reading and w riting with informational text; standardized tests used for school accountability purpo ses

also reflect these standards . As a result, teachers are more explicitly held accountable for ensuring students can read and comprehend this text type. Finall y, the abundance of technology and use of Internet websites for research, which are

predominantly informational text (Kamil & Lane, 1998; Moss, 2005), increases the literacy demands for students. To be successful in society, students must be able to read and comprehend informational text.

4

The increases in standards, standardized testin g, and emphasis on technology /Internet websites

indicate the attention to content area literacy is at an all time high (Moss, 2005).

Even though attention to content area literacy has been at an all time high over the past five years, student achievement , as measured by standardized test scores, has not indicated improvements. Data from the 2009 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessments

indicated only one - third of grade four students nationwide scored at or above the profici ent mark; thus, 66% of American students are not reading on a proficient level. Grade four reading scores from 2009 do not reveal a significant change from 2007, indicating no considerable growth over the two year period. On the contrary, 2009 grade eight reading scores indicate significant growth (1%) as compared to 2007 scores. Even though scores increased, only 30% of grade eight students scored at or above the proficient mark, indicating growth is still desperately needed (NAEP, 2009). Additionally, b ased on the nearly 1.5 million students who took the 2009 ACT, only 23% scored high enough in all subjects to be considered ready for college (ACT, 2010). Clearly, American students are in need of academic improvements across the board from elementary to h igh school.

Data from the 2009 NAEP

assessment

indicate that Mississippi‟s students are also struggling with reading in both elementary and secondary school. In Mississippi, only 22% of fourth graders scored at or above proficient levels, with 78% of Mi ssissippi‟s fourth graders scoring basic or below in reading. Mississippi‟s eighth graders are performing even worse: only 19% scored proficient or advanced

in reading , while nationwide, 30% of the students are proficient or advanced. Poor reading scores

in

5

Mississippi and nationwide indicate a lack of reading skills –

skills needed to be successful later in school and life.

In order to understand and improve reading scores, it is necessary to examine the types of questions on the assessment. The classi fication of test questions on the grade four NAEP is balanced: approximately 50% are narrative and 50% are informational. However, research indicates that narrative and informational text are not equally taught, and students are not adequately exposed to informational text in the classroom. Studies suggest that on average, less than 10% of materials in first grade classrooms are classified as informational; while only 3.6 minutes a day is spent on instruction with writing informational text (Duke, 2000).

Therefore, if primary students are not adequately exposed to and instructed with informational text, it is only natural that they will not do well when tested in this area (Gregg & Sekeres, 2006; Newkirk, 1989; Sanacore & Palumbo, 2009; Snow, Burns, & Gri ffin, 1998).

To begin to ascertain why there is an imbalance of instruction with narrative and informational text in the classroom, the instructional beliefs and practices of the teacher must be examined in relation to those text types. Teachers are con sidered to be one of the most

important factor s

that impacts student learning ( Hanushek, 1992; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997). The idea that beliefs drive actions is at the heart of teacher efficacy (Rotter, 1982). For example, research shows

that if a te acher believes he or she can have an impact on student learning –

despite challenging circumstances –

then he or she will do more to ensure the student is learning (Bandura, 1977). Teacher sense of efficacy is a critical component to successful classrooms.

Efficacy consistently ranks as one of the most significant teacher characteristics associated with student achievement (Tucker,

6

Porter, Reinke, Herman, Ivery, Mack, &

Jackson, 2005), and is considered to be an important factor that keeps teachers in the p rofession (Grant, 2006).

Ascertaining teacher beliefs in teaching is a broad topic, and narrowing the focus to certain teacher - level factors related to student learning is

important. Of all the responsibilities

of a teacher, his or her instructional str ategies ( Marzano, 2003 ; Marzano , Pickering, & Pollock , 2001 )

and the extent to which he or she can get the students engaged are found to be critical components for

a successful teacher . Thus, when identifying teacher characteristics that have a positive impact on student learning, one should consider the factors of instructional strategies and student engagement.

Instructional strategies, a teacher - level factor that greatly influences student learning ( Marzano, 2003 ; Marzano et al., 2001 ), are the intend ed actions and tasks chosen by the teacher to achieve certain goals (Gunning, 20 08 ). Teachers continually make decisions with regards

to how material is presented to students , and what the students will do with the material .

Research identifies the two mos t effective instructional strategies as identifying similarities and differences

and summarizing and note taking (Marza no et al.,

2003). Effective and more experienced teachers tend to use more instructional strategies ; some studies have found that when used appropriately, the aforementioned strategies can impact student scores by as much as 45% (Marzano et al., 2003). Therefore, instructional strategies are an influential factor with regards to teaching and student learning.

Engagement is the extent to which the mind is captivated in a topic; it is influenced by motivation, abilities, and interest of the student (Guthrie, 1996).

Of special interest to engagement in education is student‟s reading engagement. Guthrie (2004) claims that engaged readers fr equently read and do not have difficulty staying focused.

7

Moreover, they generally are engrossed in the text and consider the ideas being read; thus, the engaged reader is interacting with the text and meaning is derived (Guthrie, 2004). Studies have foun d that reading engagement is highly correlated with student achievement, even more so that well - established factors such as gender and socioeconomic status ( Guthrie et al., 2001; Guthrie & Schafer

as cited in Baker, Dreher, & Guthrie, 2000 ; Kirsch, de Jong , LaFontaine, McQueen, Mendelovits, & Monseur, 2002 ).

Moreover, teachers can have an important influence on students‟ reading engagement in selecting high - quality literature, conveying enthusiasm for reading, and developing comprehension skills associated with good readers (von

Rembow, 2006) .

Teachers have an important role in influencing student engagement (von Rembow, 2006) and selecting high quality instructional strategies ( Marzano, 2003 ; Marzano et al., 2001 ) that have positive impacts on student learning. Teacher efficacy regarding student engagement and instructional strategies can provide a useful lens through which to explore the factors contributing to the imbalance of text in the classroom.

Theoretical

Framework

Theory presented by Ruddell and Unrau (2004) in their r eading model, Reading as a Meaning - Construction Process: The Re ader, the Text, and the Teacher

can provide a framework for understanding the interconnectedness of the reader, the teacher, a nd the text/context. As the title suggests, the reader, the teacher, and the text are important components that influence comprehension. Reader

refers to the prior beliefs and knowledge of the reader in both the cognitive and affective domains. The aff ective domain incorporates previous experiences, motivations, attitudes, values, and beliefs;

8

whereas the cognitive domain includes understandings, knowledge of social interactions, metacognitive strategies, and various types of knowledge. Reading is a co mplex process, and many factors within the reader influence the ability for him or her to read (Ruddell & Unrau, 2004).

According to the theory

(Ruddell & Unrau, 2004) , the second dimension that impacts the reader‟s ability to make meaning of text is the teacher. Teacher

refers to the same components as the reader because the teacher has his or her own beliefs and understandings about society, learning, and interacting with text. Based on the teacher‟s beliefs, efficacy, and knowledge, he or she decides h ow to present the material to the student and the procedures in which to interact with the text. The teacher can select and execute specific instructional strategies to increase student engagement, and as a result, increase student learning. Some research ers believe that the teacher is the single most important factor that influences student learning (Wright et al., 1997). Thus, teachers are an important factor to consider when investigating student learning, especially with reading.

The final component w ith the theoretical model includes the text. Text

refers to the learning environment in which the reader derives meaning from the selected text. Ruddell and Unrau (2004) take a constructivist approach to learning to read, and claim that meaning is construc ted as a result of the interactions among teacher, reader, and text/context. For example, teachers are responsible for creating a stimulating environment in which the reader is encouraged to actively engage in text to construct meaning. S pecifically, teac hers can make

reading tasks meaningful

by

allowing students to construct meaning by interacting with text in various ways: connecting visuals with sight -

9

words (Cowden, 2010), research ing

topics of interest , writing

paragraphs for a reader interested in the

topic (Tompkins, 2009) and incorporating shared reading and writing tasks (Gately, 2007). Text

can include the specific type of text used in reading, such as narrative or informational, as well as the level of the text. By selecting texts of various genr es and topics on the reader‟s level, teachers can provide the reader with adequate opportunities to engage in texts that help prepare him or her for success in the future. Due to the importance of the interconnectedness of the reader, teacher, and text, al l of these components need to be considered when discussing reading .

Statement of the Problem

Concrete evidence highlights the drastic imbalance of narrative and infor mational text in the classroom,

despite the unquestionable need for instruction with both

( Duke, 2000; Yopp & Yopp, 2006) . Knowing how to read and understand informational text is increasingly more important as state and national standards require students to successfully read and comp rehend informational text (Moss, 2005). Additionally, research has documented students‟ preference for informational text (Mohr, 2003; Pappas, 1991) and their success with it if it is adequately taught (Pappas, 1991; Reutzel, Smith, & Fawson, 2005; William s, Hall, & Lauer, 2004). Thus, there is an unexplained discrepancy in the need to teach informational text and the instructional practices of teachers.

One way to investigate why teachers make certain instructional decisions is to look at their belief syst em, or efficacy, with regards to a particular area. Efficacy has been studied heavily since 1977 (Bandura, 1977), and refers to teachers‟ cognitions and behaviors (Fives & Buehl, 2010). Over the years, efficacy has been measured using a

10

variety of instru ments with demonstrated reliability and validity (Fives & Buehl, 2010; Tschannen - Moran & Hoy, 2001). While there is adequate research on the need and lack of instruction with informational text, there is currently no research available on why primary teac hers are not adequately exposing and instructing students with informational text. Using efficacy to explore why teachers make certain instructional decisions with regards to teaching narrative and informational text can help provide valuable information a nd help address the serious problem of inadequate instruction in this area.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study wa s to investigate the relationship between teacher efficacy and use of narrative and informational text in the primary classroom.

Investigating why humans do certain things is a complex and complicated task. The goal of the study was

not to answer this q uestion completely; rather it was

to begin a preliminary investigation of this topic.

The intention of this study was

to explor e one area of this question with regards to teacher beliefs, or efficacy, with teaching narrative and informational text. Due to the varied and multiple tasks teachers encounter daily, the focus of the study wa s narrowed to two important aspects associate d with student success: instructional strategies ( Marzano, 2003 ; Marzano et al., 2001 ) and student engagement (Guthrie, Schafer, & Huang, 2001).

Specifically, the researcher wa s interested in teacher sense of efficacy with instructional strategies in teac hing narrative and informational text, and teacher sense of efficacy with student engagement in teaching narrative and informational text.

Research Questions

The study ha d

t hree

research questions

and 10 hypotheses:

11

Research Question 1 : Are there differences in primary teachers‟ efficacy in teaching narrative and informational text?

H 1 : P rimary teachers‟ overall level of efficacy differs when using narrative text as compared to informational text.

H 2 : P rimary

teachers‟ levels of efficacy in promot ing student engagement differ when using narrative text as compared to informational text.

H 3 : P rimary teachers‟ levels of efficacy with instructional strategies differ when using narrative text as compared to informational text.

Research Question 2 : Does primary teachers‟ efficacy impact the use of narrative and informational text in the classroom?

H 4 : The use of narrative text correlates with overall teacher efficacy when teaching narrative text.

H 5 : The use of narrative text correlates with teachers‟ ef ficacy in student engagement when teaching with narrative text.

H 6 : The use of narrative text correlates with teachers‟ efficacy with instructional strategies when teaching with narrative text.

H 7 : The use of informational text correlates with overall teac her efficacy when teaching informational text.

H 8 : The use of informational text correlates with teachers‟ efficacy in student engagement when teaching with informational text.

H 9 : The use of informational text correlates with teachers‟ efficacy in instructional strategies when teaching with informational text.

12

Research Question 3 : Does primary teachers‟ use of narrative text differ from their use of informational text in the classroom?

H 1 0 : P rimary teachers‟ use of narrative text is greater than the ir use of informational text in the classroom.

Limitations, Delimitations, and Assumptions

Before conducting research, it is important for the researcher to understand factors that may impact the validity and/or limit results of the study. Measures to red uce the influence of outside factors will increase statistical power and the ability to generalize to other populations (Gay, 1996). In this section, limitations, delimitations, and assumptions of the study are discussed.

Limitations

When analyzing resea rch, it is important to realize certain limitations with studies that may impact internal validity. Two primary limitations should be considered before interpreting the results of this research study: self - reported data and the use of only teachers in Miss issippi. Self - reported data is frequently a limitation with studies due to the possibility of inaccurate responses (Gay, 1996). Uncontrollable history effects such as inclement weather and bad days

may influence participant respons es. Participation in the study wa s also voluntary. Participants who decline d

to respond to the questionnaire may represent a certain group of teachers who may be burned out, apathetic, or simply too busy to participate.

Delimitations

The population of this study provides limits to generalizing results. Participants are kindergarten through grade three classroom teachers in select Mississippi schools.

13

Participants and schools are not randomly selected; therefore the sample may leave o ut some groups. Additionally, teachers will complete the questionnaire only once; therefore, history effects, such as a bad day , may limit the study by teachers responding according to their momentary frustrations.

Assumptions

It is assumed that participants will respond honestly and complete/return only one questionnaire. A cover letter will be attached to the front of the questionnaire explaining who should complete the questionnaire. The cover letter will specify directions for completing and returning the questionnaire; directions will indicate that participants should complete only one questionnaire.

Definition of Key Terms

Throughout this document, many terms will be used repeatedly. A list of key terms and their definitions are included t o establish a common understanding of the terms.

1. Narrative text

-

Narrative text refers to text that follows general story grammar with emphasis on character, setting, problem, plot, and resolution (Reutzel & Cooter, 2003).

The reader usually infers a

lesson or moral of the story ( Reutzel & Cooter, 2003; Sanacore, 1991). Popular narrative books include Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996) and Corduroy (1968).

2. Informational text -

The primary purpose of informational text is to inform the reader abo ut the natural or social world (Duke, 2000). Examples include “All - About” books , such as All About Volcanoes

(2000)

and most reference books, such as encyclopedias and atlases (Duke & Bennett - Armistead, 2003). In the studies referenced

14

throughout this do cument, some researchers refer to informational text as expository. These terms are synonymous and will be used interchangeably. However, some researchers use the terms fiction and nonfiction. Many nonfiction books are informational, but not all of them . If the researcher(s) use fiction and nonfiction , the terms are not changed in the description of the study.

3. Fiction

-

Fiction is any type of literature used to entertain (Anderson, 2010). It is often described as stories

and follows the story gramm ar as explained in narrative text.

4. Nonfiction

-

Nonfiction ref ers to any text that is factual. While all informational text is nonfiction, not all nonfiction is considered informational text (D uke & Bennett - Armistead, 2003).

5. Primary students

-

In this study, primary students are referred to as children enrolled in school between kindergarten and third grade.

6. Teacher efficacy

-

According to Bandura (1997), self - efficacy refers to a teacher‟s beliefs in his or her capabilities to “organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments”

(p. 2 - 3). A teacher with high self - efficacy believes that he or she is capable of having a st rong impact on student learning, and thus, can generally persist regardless of challengin g circumstances (Bandura, 1977). Teacher efficacy is considered a powerful characteristic that positively affects

student achievement (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Tucker et al., 2005) and keeps teachers in the profession (Grant, 2006).

7. Student Engagement

S tudent engagement refers to the combination of motivation, strategies, and activities used by the student when learning. Research indicates that the more engaged the student, the more successful he or she is academically

Full document contains 147 pages
Abstract: Research has documented the scarcity of informational text and the overabundance of narrative text in the primary grades (Duke, 2000; Yopp & Yopp, 2006). The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine primary teachers' beliefs, or efficacy, in teaching narrative and informational text as well as assess their use of both text types in the classroom. Efficacy data were collected with a previously established questionnaire that had been slightly altered to assess efficacy in narrative and informational text. Two sub-categories made-up the efficacy measure for each type of text: teacher sense of efficacy in instructional strategies and teacher sense of efficacy in student engagement. Use of text was assessed with a researcher-created questionnaire that asked teachers to report frequency of specific types of narrative and informational texts used within one week in the classroom. Results indicated that primary teachers felt significantly more efficacious teaching narrative text as compared to informational text. Results also showed teachers' sense of efficacy in teaching each text type significantly correlated with their use of text type. Finally, contradicting previous research, results indicated teachers use more informational text than narrative text. Possible reasons for contradictory results and recommendations for future research are discussed. Lastly, recommendations for teachers, administrators, and other educators are provided. Recommendations include ways to increase effective use of informational text in the primary grades. Suggested strategies for teaching informational text include a focus of three areas: increasing student exposure to informational text, understanding text structure, and implementing effective instructional strategies.