Differences in perceptions of literacy development among junior/community college reading teachers and their students

Lynn Runnels Holifield


This study was undertaken to investigate the differences in perceptions of literacy among junior community college reading teachers and their students. The specific purposes of the study were (a) to determine if teachers who classified themselves as behavioral, eclectic, or cognitive differed in their teaching methodology; (b) to determine if the three teacher groups differed in perceptions of what does occur and should occur in reading classrooms; (c) to determine if teacher methodology affected student perceptions of what does and should occur in reading classroorns; and (d) to determine if differences existed between teacher and student perceptions of what does occur and should occur in a reading classroom. The participants in this study consisted of 16 full-time academic reading teachers from Mississippi junior community colleges and 409 of their students. To investigate teachers' literacy perceptions, participants were identified as belonging to one of three groups, behavioral, eclectic, or cognitive, based on their responses to the Teacher Interview Questionnaire (TIQ) during a brief telephone interview. Teachers then completed the Teacher Questionnaire-Revised (TQR) for further comparison. Students' literacy perceptions were obtained from scores on the Student Questionnaire-Revised (SQR) and responses to the Open-Ended Student Questionnaire (OESQ). Scores from the SQR were matched with those on the TQR. and OESQ responses were matched with TIQ responses to identify differences or relationships among teacher and student groups and between teachers and their students. Four hypotheses were tested in this study. The analyses of data indicated no significant differences between teachers' philosophies and what they felt did occur and should occur in their reading classrooms. Similarly, there were no significant differences among students groups or teacher and student groups in perceptions of what did occur and should occur in the classroom. There was a significant difference between what teachers believed occurred in their classrooms and what they believed should occur ( F (1, 13) = 5.37, p < .05), indicating that teachers, regardless of philosophy, felt they should do more to enhance their students literacy capabilities. Analysis of qualitative data revealed that cognitive teachers and their students were situated more accurately within the boundaries of teachers' stated orientations to literacy.