Dressman_Theoretically_Framed - Reading Research Quarterly...

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Reading Research Quarterly Vol. 42, No. 3 July/August/September 2007 © 2007 International Reading Association (pp. 332–363) doi:10.1598/RRQ.42.3.1 I Theoretically framed: Argument and desire in the production of general knowledge about literacy MARK DRESSMAN University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA n the past two decades, research in North America has experienced a shift of seis- mic proportions in its conceptualization of how literacy can be studied and written about. As recently as Volume 25 (1990) of Reading Research Quarterly ( RRQ ), only 2 of 16 published studies were primarily qualitative in their methodology, whereas the remainder consisted largely of experimental and quasi-experimental studies of some aspect of decoding or comprehension, along with surveys and more applied studies of instructional interventions. Similarly, only 2 of 23 articles published in Volume 21 (1989) of the Journal of Reading Behavior (called Journal of Literacy Research [ JLR ] since 1995) were qualitative in their methodology. Even in Volume 20 (1986) of Research in the Teaching of English ( RTE ), a journal grounded in a humanities-based discipline that focused during this period on research in writing, only 5 of 16 empirical studies were qualitative in their focus, and, of these 5, 3 used coding and scoring schemes that yielded numerical findings in table and chart formats. A decade later, however, in Volumes 35 and 36 (2000, 2001) of RRQ , that ratio was reversed. Only 8 of 24 articles were primarily quantitative in their methodology, whereas 14 of 24 were qualitative, and 2 used mixed methods. Similarly, in Volumes 31 and 32 of JLR (1999, 2000), only 5 of 24 articles used quantitative methods, and 19 of 24 were primarily qualitative. But this shift in methodology may be only the outermost manifestation of a recent and far more fundamental shift in how the study of reading and writing, or more broadly, literacy, is conceptualized by researchers. For example, one of the two qualitative articles published in JRB in 1989 was Shannon’s (1989) study of the epistemological assumptions about literacy that informed research articles published in the first 21 volumes of RRQ and Volumes 5–28 of JRB . Of 357 articles published in RRQ , Shannon found that 97% fit the assumptions of what he termed empirical/ analytic science (i.e., they focused on reading or writing in bounded terms, typically 332
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333 THE USE of broad theories of reading, social cognition, and social history to frame the study of literacy was in- vestigated, and implications of this relatively recent trend were considered. Sixty-nine articles published between 1992 and 2003 in Journal of Literacy Research/Journal of Reading Behavior , Reading Research Quarterly , and Research in the Teaching of English were selected for analysis. An inventory was made of the general topic and the schools of theory used, of the specific sections of the article in which theory was cited, and of the relation between the cita- tion of theory and previous research. From this inventory, a typology of four patterns of theory use was generated.
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2010 for the course C&I CI550 taught by Professor Markdressmen during the Fall '07 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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Dressman_Theoretically_Framed - Reading Research Quarterly...

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