The dynamics of agency in two secondary level inquiry-based classrooms : a focus on struggling readers
Heron, Alison Hope
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative cross-case analysis examined how struggling readers participate in inquiry-based instruction. This analysis stems from the concern within literacy education literature that struggling readers often experience negative school experiences and, as a result, engage in passive failure and learned helplessness. Theoretically, inquiry-based instruction presents students with challenging and complex learning endeavors meant to build on their existing skills and to provide them with the tools to become more adept thinkers. Furthermore, inquiry-based instruction is designed to invite students to bring their curiosities and concerns to the learning process, thus including them as active participants in class activities. For 15 weeks, I conducted participant observations of two inquiry-based classrooms in northern Philadelphia; one was a ninth grade classroom in a small charter school, and the other was a 12th grade classroom in a large neighborhood comprehensive school. Both schools served predominatly African-American students from working class neighborhoods. Using standardized measures of reading achievement, teacher recommendations, and classroom observations, I identified four struggling readers from each of the two classrooms and focused upon them during the study. Finding indicate that inquiry-based instruction does indeed have the potential to include struggling readers as active and significant participants in class activities.