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Gena Southall in Literacy Research and Instruction

The most recent volume of Literacy Research and Instruction includes an article by Dr. Gena Southall, Director of Liberal Studies, and, from JMU’s College of Education, Dr. Kristina Doubet. “Integrating Reading and Writing Instruction in Middle and High School: The Role of Professional Development in Shaping Teacher Perceptions and Practices” examines the extent to which middle and high school English teachers integrate reading and writing instruction as complementary processes. Using qualitative research methods, the researchers investigated the following: (a) Do middle and high school English teachers conceive of and enact the teaching of reading and writing as integrated disciplines? and (b) Might staff development experiences modeling integrative techniques affect teachers’ perceptions and practices? The study’s results indicate participants (N = 55) believe the various facets of reading and writing instruction are connected and should be integrated; however, many do not feel equipped to deliver instruction in an integrated fashion. Findings also indicate that focused professional development featuring strategy-modeling has the potential to shape teachers’ beliefs and practices; however, teachers may not sustain these changes without embedded, long-term support.

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