Literacy learning in communities of discourse: Reading to learn and writing to communicate

Alfassi, M.
Reading and writing are complex cognitive activities that areindispensable for adequate functioning in society. To enter the literatesociety of today students must know how to learn from reading and how tocommunicate while writing. Recent data indicates that a third of the studentpopulation manifest low levels of learning to comprehend and write. Suchevidence emphasizes the need to develop effective learning environments thatwill promote student literacy According to contemporary theory language plays amajor role in education, not only as a subject in the curriculum but mainly asthe medium through which meaning is shared and learning and teaching arecarried out. Knowledge emerges from the interaction of voices thereforelearning involves both individual interpretation and negotiation with others.Hence, discourse plays a crucial mediational role in learning as it allows fornew understandings to be negotiated among participants. This implies thatliteracy is best acquired while learning in depth content that engages studentsin thoughtful reading, writing and discussion The reported studies in thischapter translate the above assertions into practice by applying a progressiveinstructional model designed to include opportunities for learning throughnegotiation. The instructional model integrates socio-cognitive learningprinciples and activities in a problem-based environment geared to teachliteracy. The reported studies examine the efficacy of the instructional modelin fostering reading comprehension and writing competence. The studies situatedin junior high school language art classes compare between students engaged inguided inquiry within communities of discourse to students who were exposed totraditional methods of literacy instruction. Quantitative and qualitativemethods of analysis are applied to trace the contextual features within thelearning environment that promote literacy learning. Findings suggest that designinga learning environment in which students and teachers mediate and negotiatemeaning while co-constructing their knowledge provides the context in whichstudents develop cognitive tools for comprehension and generation of text

Alfassi, M. (2006).

Literacy learning in communities of discourse: Reading to learn and writing to communicate. In S. N. Hogan (Ed.), Trends in learning research (pp. 41-66). New York:Nova Science Publishers.

Last Updated Date : 31/01/2012