An Exploration Of Middle School Teachers' Familiarity, Utility, And Percieved Applicability Of Content Area Reading Strategies

Term of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Dan Rea

Committee Member 1

Michael T. Moore

Committee Member 2

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 3

Caren Town


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to explore middle school teachers‟ familiarity, utility, and perceived applicability of content area reading strategies (CARS). Teachers of language arts, math, reading, science, and social studies from three middle schools in rural Northwest Georgia were surveyed regarding their familiarity with CARS, their use of 12 CARS, and their perceptions of the usefulness of CARS within their specific content areas. Teachers‟ survey responses were categorized into high or low responses for familiarity, use, and applicability. Three teachers from each category (high and low) were asked to participate in semi-structured interviews. The purpose of the interviews was to gather information about what influenced teachers to make decisions about the use of CARS during content instruction.

Survey data indicated 100% of teachers were familiar with graphic organizers and prior knowledge activation, while 84% were familiar with the use of text structures. Teachers reported a high use of prior knowledge activation (73%), graphic organizers (67%), and questioning methods (64%). Teachers used response journals (60%) but believed they were applicable (88%).

Teachers‟ years of experience, degree level, areas of certification, and number of CARS workshops attended had minimal association with the teachers‟ familiarity, use, and perceptions of the 12 CARS surveyed. Results from this study were similar to the findings of Braithwaite (1999).

Several themes were identified as a result of the interviews. A lack of time to use CARS instruction was prevalent. Teachers were concerned about state standardized testing and their inability to competently make time for CARS instruction while being responsible for content coverage prior to testing. A lack of training was also addressed by interview participants. Teachers perceived CARS training to be beneficial if linked directly to their respective content fields and if a coach could model the CARS for them.

The results from this study suggest that teachers would use CARS more if they were better trained and given ample time to apply them in the classroom. This study fills a gap in literacy research in the middle schools.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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