The influence of teachers’ knowledge and teaching practice on outcomes for beginning readers : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Manawatū Campus, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
New Zealand has a problem with reading achievement, in spite of ongoing efforts to address the issue. The current study selected to investigate the influence of teachers’ knowledge and teaching practice in teaching beginning reading. The study was a two-phase, mixed methods, explanatory sequential design, involving 30 teachers from 12 urban, state schools located in New Zealand’s lower North Island. Teachers participated in professional learning and development (PLD) workshops focused on teacher knowledge and explicit teaching practice for beginning readers. The study used data from 109 New Entrant children from the PLD classrooms and from a non-PLD comparison group of 61 new entrant children. The first phase of the study involved obtaining and analysing data about teachers’ linguistic knowledge, self-confidence for teaching literacy, teaching practice, and reading prompts. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and t-tests. The findings showed that teachers’ knowledge of linguistic constructs and self-confidence in teaching the code component of reading increased significantly. Observations showed a significant change in teaching practice, from implicit teaching to explicit teaching. Teachers’ prompts changed significantly to using code-cue prompts. For some teachers, teaching practice remained implicit and prompts remained context-based, regardless of an increase in their teacher knowledge. The second phase of the study involved interviews with four teachers to identify barriers for teachers in changing to explicit teaching. Student reading skills were measured and data analysed using a series of MANOVAs and ANOVAs to identify any differences between the implementation and comparison groups. The student data showed significantly better outcomes for the implementation students, with a notable positive difference for students from schools located in lower socio-economic neighbourhoods. Findings suggest that when teachers are equipped with knowledge and practice to teach the code component explicitly to beginning readers, improvement in reading outcomes is possible. Recommendations from the study include that changes are required at a policy level, in teacher training, and for teaching resources, with a particular need for increased cognisance of studies from the science of reading.  
Reading (Primary), New Zealand, Effective teaching, Teachers, Attitudes