Date of Graduation

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department/Program

Learning and Instruction

First Advisor

Xornam Apedoe

Second Advisor

Yvonne Bui

Third Advisor

Helen Maniates

Abstract

Students must independently complete academic literacy tasks--including reading analytically to identify problems, resolving problems that arise, and using writing to demonstrate advanced knowledge acquisition--if they are to be successful in courses across their university careers. However, a significant portion of students arrives at the university underprepared to meet these expectations for academic literacy.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an instructional intervention to help developmental-level freshmen acquire the academic literacy skills that experienced academic readers demonstrate in order to promote independent learning. The four-week instructional intervention focused on two aspects of advanced academic literacy: 1) identifying inconsistencies across multiple texts and 2) flexibly employing evaluative heuristics (sourcing, corroboration, & contextualization) in order to resolve inconsistencies. The study, which took place at a large, urban, public university over the course of five weeks in two intact sections of a developmental-level academic literacy course taught by one instructor, used a pre-experimental one group pretest-posttest design. Participants (N = 31) were administered the Multiple Text Tasks as a pretest and a posttest in order to measure three dependent variables: 1) the number of inconsistencies identified, 2) the number of evaluative heuristics used in writing, and 3) the number of evaluative heuristics used in reading.

More participants were categorized as High Use in their ability to recognize inconsistencies across multiple texts postintervention. This result was statistically significant. Although participants did increase their use of evaluative heuristics in writing and in reading postintervention, these results did not reach statistical significance. One unique finding was that developmental-level freshmen in this study used the contextualization heuristic at higher rates than in previous studies.

The results suggest that the instructional intervention contributed to an increase in the number of inconsistencies identified. The increase in evaluative heuristic use suggests that the intervention may have contributed to increased use of evaluative heuristics. However, the failure to reach statistical significance suggests that the intervention was not of adequate intensity or duration.

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