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- January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2012
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impact statement impact
- We have secured a nationally funded grant through the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education to study the impact of literacy interventions on students' reading comprehension and motivation to read within the disciplines of career and technical education. This is a multi-year study impacting New York teachers, as well as teachers in Kentucky, South Carolina, and Minnesota. I have presented literacy and reading workshops to more than 200 agricultural science teachers in New York, Kentucky, Arkansas, and two national venues. We have also presented literacy workshops to hundreds of career and technical education teachers across New York. Teachers have indicated that they have found the workshops useful in catalyzing changes in their pedagogy and thus improving student learning.
impact statement issue
- Today’s demands on students’ literacy skills are more intense than at any other time in history (Alvermann, 2001; Kamil, 2003; Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw, and Rycik, 1999; National Governors Association, 2005; Snow and Biancarosa, 2004). These demands are also placed squarely on students enrolled in career and technical education. The consequences of illiterate graduates are severe, detrimental, and limiting. Individuals lacking in literacy skills fail to fully participate in careers and society (Cappella and Weinstein, 2001; National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2005; National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), 2006; Wright, 1998). High school graduates need proficient literacy and reading skills to succeed in school, develop lifelong careers, participate in our democracy, and navigate the information age (Forget and Bottoms, 2000; Guthrie, Schafer, Wang, and Afflerbach, 1995; Kamil, 2003; Meltzer, 2001; Snow, 2002; Vacca, 2002). With the emphasis on applied literacy across the curriculum, intentional and explicit instruction using texts as learning tools cannot be relegated solely to language arts classes. Clearly, focusing “on early reading is necessary, but not sufficient” (NASBE, p. 14). Thus, reading must occur in all disciplines, including career and technical education courses. Improving comprehension skills is vital to building cognitive skills. Reading and literacy skills enable youths to gather information from various sources and then cognitively and creatively consider solutions to problems in and about their lives. By implementing disciplinary reading strategies in career and technical education curriculum, teachers enable all youths with the requisite skills to succeed in school, careers, and daily life. Reading is the gateway skill for learning in other disciplines. Students who read well are able to use oral and written language skills more effectively, solve problems and analyze solutions, and develop a lifelong interest in learning and achieving. “If students can’t read well, we can’t expect that they’re going to do well in math and science courses” (Ferguson, as cited in Marklein, 2006, p. 2). Little research has been conducted in career and technical education with regard to literacy and the uses of language and texts with authentic applications. We do know that content area teachers, while becoming more aware of reading and literacy strategies, still do not readily adopt these strategies into their instructional routines (Barry, 2002; Bean, 1997; Jackson and Cunningham, 1994-95). Yet, the applications of literacy in our career and technical education areas may be more meaningful than applications in other academic areas. Whereas failures in literacy negatively impact a student’s grade in other courses, consequences in career and technical education may be more dire and dramatic. Failures in literacy within career and technical education may result in immediate danger to the student from misreading a chemical label, lost finances when misinterpreting construction plans, or incomplete learning when misapplying concepts from other academic areas in our applied sciences.
impact statement response
- The findings from this research have the potential to improve and impact policy and practice in career and technical education. One of the emerging issues with comprehension instruction is fine-tuning existing strategies for existing disciplines to promote higher order comprehension processes, such as would be included in this study with career and technical education concepts and issues (Pressley, 2001). Several researchers (Pressley, 2001; Pressley and Allington, 1999; Snow and Biancarosa, 2003; Taraban, Rynearson and Kerr, 2000) have proposed that reading strategy instruction should be investigated, especially pertaining to specific contexts such as career technical education. Further, comprehension instruction should prepare students to tackle real-world tasks -- the application of comprehension strategies for real purposes. If the application of disciplinary literacy strategies improves reading comprehension within career technical education, then it could also work effectively in other disciplines, such as science. When fully developed, the integration of disciplinary literacy strategies will form a set of instructional strategies with potential to improve reading comprehension of career technical education students when reading expository passages for content knowledge and solving problems. Another potential impact on the field of career technical education could be the implementation of strategies through the High Schools That Work initiative. At the conclusion of this study, we will have determined an approach to disciplinary literacy that is effective in career technical education. One could imagine a pre-conference session related to the implementation of literacy strategies across disciplines in career technical education. During this pre-session, cooperating teachers and the research team would cooperate on the workshop to demonstrate how the implementation of literacy strategies can be effective for student learning and motivation in career technical education. The combination of practitioners and researchers would be powerful for helping other teachers learn how to implement literacy strategies in their disciplines.
impact statement summary
- Today’s secondary students must utilize literacy skills to learn important concepts related to their academic and career success. College and career opportunities rely upon adept use of literacy to realize those opportunities. Thus, students must possess the requisite literacy skills for career and academic success. Career and technical education teachers can facilitate the learning processes by scaffolding instruction with literacy strategies. Whereas little research has been conducted about literacy strategies in career and technical education, this research project employs a quasi-experimental design with qualitative evaluations of an intervention to identify both authentic literacy opportunities within career and technical education and strategies that help students learn when texts are used. Research will include teachers in three areas of career and technical education within New York to contribute to the knowledge base about disciplinary literacy.
Other private funding
- National Research Center for Career and Technical Education
- Applied Research
- Park, Travis D. Cornell Faculty Member