Reading identity in developmental college readers
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to explore reading identity in students who were placed by low college placement exams in a mandatory developmental reading class (termed Learning Support Classes by the institution). Sociocultural theories of learning framed the qualitative study that was conducted at a University System of Georgia open-access Institution. The study addressed three issues related to reading identity: (a) How students placed in the developmental education class described themselves as readers; (b) How students’ in-school and out-of-school literacy practices affected their perceptions of themselves as readers; and (c) How the ways literacy is taught and valued by society influenced students’ perceptions. Data were gathered over a 15-week semester through official course documents, participant surveys, a series of interviews, and participants’ class work. I analyzed the data using document analysis, grounded theory, and a case-study approach. Analysis of the data showed that participants’ notions of themselves as readers differed when they described their out-of school literacy practices and their in-school literacy practices. Participants often used a skills-focused notion of reading to describe “good” in-school readers, but many participants described themselves as engaged readers outside the classroom. More often than not, students in the developmental reading class accepted the institution’s label of “struggling” reader within the definition of school reading. This study suggests that reading identity is more complex than good reader or struggling reader labels often assigned to students. The findings also suggest that standardized reading tests have limited ability to portray accurately students’ diverse literacy practices.