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

Christine Cherry Selman


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.