Literacy learning in communities of discourse: Reading to learn and writing to communicate

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Reading and writing are complex cognitive activities that are indispensable for adequate functioning in society. To enter the literate society of today students must know how to learn from reading and how to communicate while writing. Recent data indicates that a third of the student population manifest low levels of learning to comprehend and write. Such evidence emphasizes the need to develop effective learning environments that will promote student literacy According to contemporary theory language plays a major role in education, not only as a subject in the curriculum but mainly as the medium through which meaning is shared and learning and teaching are carried out. Knowledge emerges from the interaction of voices therefore learning involves both individual interpretation and negotiation with others. Hence, discourse plays a crucial mediational role in learning as it allows for new understandings to be negotiated among participants. This implies that literacy is best acquired while learning in depth content that engages students in thoughtful reading, writing and discussion The reported studies in this chapter translate the above assertions into practice by applying a progressive instructional model designed to include opportunities for learning through negotiation. The instructional model integrates socio-cognitive learning principles and activities in a problem-based environment geared to teach literacy. The reported studies examine the efficacy of the instructional model in fostering reading comprehension and writing competence. The studies situated in junior high school language art classes compare between students engaged in guided inquiry within communities of discourse to students who were exposed to traditional methods of literacy instruction. Quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis are applied to trace the contextual features within the learning environment that promote literacy learning. Findings suggest that designing a learning environment in which students and teachers mediate and negotiate meaning while coconstructing their knowledge provides the context in which students develop cognitive tools for comprehension and generation of text.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationReading
    Subtitle of host publicationLearning, Writing and Disorders
    PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9781614707325
    ISBN (Print)9781604566116
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2009 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.


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