Effects of Teacher’s Individualized Support on Children’s Reading Skills and Interest in Classrooms with Different Teaching Styles

The purpose of the study was to examine whether teacher’s individualised support affects students’ reading skills and interest in classrooms with different teaching styles. The results showed that relations between individualized support and students’ later reading comprehension skills and interest differed between classrooms with different teaching styles. While individualized support enhanced interest in reading in classrooms employing mixed child-centred and teacher-directed styles, it inhibited interest in classrooms with child-dominated styles.

Authors: Eve Kikas, Gintautas Silinskas, Anna-Liisa Jõgi & Piret Soodla

Source: Kikas, E., Silinskas, G., Jõgi, A.-L. & Soodla, P. (2016). Effects of teacher’s individualized support on children’s reading skills and interest in classrooms with different teaching styles. Learning and Individual Differences, 49, 270-277. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.05.015

The purpose of the study was to examine whether a teacher’s individualised support affects students’ reading skills and interest in classrooms with different teaching styles. The participants were 552 children (273 boys) and their 21 homeroom teachers. The results showed that relations between individualized support and students’ later reading comprehension skills and interest differed between classrooms with different teaching styles. While individualized support enhanced interest in reading in classrooms employing mixed child-centred and teacher-directed styles, it inhibited interest in classrooms with child-dominated styles. In the classrooms with child-dominated teaching styles, higher individualised support was related to lower reading comprehension skills.

  • Outside of home, teachers constitute the most proximal environmental context for young children’s academic and motivational development, yet they differ in teaching practices, teaching styles, and how they individualise their teaching.
  • While some studies have shown that increased individualised instruction has a positive impact on children’s skill development, others have not.
  • Based on active, leading roles of teachers or children, three dimensions of teaching practices – child-centred, teacher-directed, and child-dominated – have been described.

Child-centred practices

  • Teachers actively organise children’s learning activities.
  • They consider children’s interests, allow children to construct their knowledge, and provide emotional support and encouragement.

Teacher-directed practices

  • Teachers give detailed tasks and frequent feedback, praise children for correct answers rather than effort, and children have to usually follow teacher directions.

Child-dominated practices

  • Teachers remain quite passive.
  • They respond to children’s questions and interrupt only when violations of discipline occur, giving feedback when asked but rarely providing emotional support.

The study

This study examined whether the effects of individualised support for reading skills and interest differ depending on whether teachers utilise different teaching styles.

Hypotheses:

  1. Individualised support in child-centred and mixed classrooms will have a positive effect on both skills and interest.
  2. Individualised support in child-dominated classrooms will have a negative effect on all studied outcomes (reading fluency, comprehension, and interest).

The participants were 552 children from seven schools and 21 classrooms and their homeroom teachers.

Findings

  • Teachers’ individualised support in grade 1 negatively predicted reading comprehension in grade 2.
  • Children’s fluency and reading comprehension in grade 1 negatively predicted teachers’ support in grade 2.
  • The association between teachers’ support in grade 1 and children’s interest in reading in grade 2 was not significant for the child-centred teaching style group.
  • It was positive for the mixed group and negative for the child-dominated teaching style group.
  • Teachers’ support in grade 1 negatively predicted reading comprehension in grade 2 with a mixed teaching style group, whereas in other groups this association was not significant.

Conclusions

  • Classrooms with different teaching styles maintained different relations between individualised teacher support and students’ later reading comprehension skills and interest.
  • Individualised teacher support did not have any significant effect on reading skills and interest when the child-centred style was used in the classroom.
  • In the groups with teachers using the mixed teaching style combining child-centred and teacher-directed practices, individualised support was negatively related to students’ comprehension skills, but it had a supportive effect on their interest in reading.
  • In the classrooms with child-dominated teaching styles, individualised support tended to predict lower interest and reading comprehension skills.
  • Teachers should be encouraged to apply both child-centred (e.g. considering children’s interests when providing reading material, focusing on comprehension during reading activities, providing emotional support in reading activities) and teacher-directed (e.g. practicing reading accuracy and fluency) types of activities but avoid relying on child-dominated practices.

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