Understanding teacher aides’ definitions of reading: implications for classroom practice

Abstract

While teacher aides often provide individual and group reading instruction for at-risk readers, research suggests these interventions may not always bring about reading gains. This Australian study investigated upper primary school teacher aides’ definitions of reading, drawing on semi-structured interview responses and written definitions examined via categorical analysis. The analysis identified six categories classifying participant understandings: Translating, Making sense, Contextualising meaning, Generating an affective response, Using texts for practical purposes, and Growing as a person, with Making sense the most prevalent actual definition. Definitions did not include critical understandings of reading or digital reading practices. The study identifies that teacher aides require better conceptual understandings of reading, especially within upper primary or secondary contexts. However, if teacher aides are expected to obtain further educational credentials or professional learning, careful consideration is also needed about how these increased expectations should impact teacher aide status, working conditions, and remuneration in schools.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the funding received from the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) which provided financial support for this project. We would also like to thank the teacher aides who participated in our study. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2014 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Correspondence to Lois Ruth Harris.

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Harris, L.R., Davidson, C.R. & Aprile, K.T. Understanding teacher aides’ definitions of reading: implications for classroom practice. Aust. Educ. Res. 42, 627–644 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-015-0181-4

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Keywords

  • Teacher aides
  • Reading
  • Definitions
  • Categorical analysis