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Subject:

Re: Reading persons/NADE presentation/conference: Read Right March 24-26/FW: Struggling Freshmen: Can the Epidemic of Reading Problems be Stopped?

From:

Nic Voge <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 10:01:44 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Hi Norm,
Thanks for your post. I've read a little bit of the research you 
refer to, but not much, and not lately.
I must admit that I am skeptical, though, of the applicability and 
utility of this research for educators, particularly classroom 
teachers. Given that there is still so much to learn  about other 
aspects of reading and literacy and the teaching of them that could 
be of great use to classroom teachers, my position is that a 
brain-based perspective is not of high priority. Not much of the last 
20 years of research on the interactional, social, and cultural 
dimensions of teaching and learning literacy has made it into our 
field of college reading and learning. That research is often more 
accessible, more directly applicable by teachers, and is, in fact, a 
dialogue that practicing teachers can participate in and inform. So, 
not only can we practitioners USE the insights from  this 
research--because we CAN influence the situations students learn to 
read in (but cannot directly manipulate their brain functioning)-- we 
can also influence discussions about research and theory of social 
and cultural aspects of literacy learning by sharing the knowledge 
we've garnered through practice.

I'm also skeptical about the ultimate utility of brain research to 
most of the issues I work with students on. For instance, do we 
really believe that reading critically and reading for comprehension 
are that different at a neural level? Is effectively reading a 
textbook that different in  terms of brain function than reading a 
scholarly article? Is reading a novel for the purposes of literary 
criticism like that expected at my institution that different--in 
terms of brain "circuitry" --than the circuitry involved in reading 
the same novel for the typical high school book report? All of these 
are real issues,  for me representative of the most important issues 
facing my students, that I cannot conceive brain research saying much 
about.
Do we have instruments that would be sensitive enough to discern 
these kinds of differences even if they exist? And, again, what would 
a teacher do with this data? How applicable is information about 
universal brain function to the particular student sitting across 
from you in your office hours?

I realize brain-based approaches to reading is not your specialty, 
but I have some questions that you may be able to address based on 
Charles Perfetti's presentation. With respect to the posting  from 
Read Right via Dan Kern that sparked this discussion in the first 
place, it was stated that, "Annually, the dichotomy results in 
millions of children and teens that struggle with reading, leading 
ultimately to millions of college students who struggle with their 
coursework." Did Charles Perfetti's presentation at NRC give any 
indication that millions of college readers  struggle with their 
coursework because they suffer from some anomalous brain functioning? 
 From what you know, could  such a claim that millions of college 
students suffer from this problem be credible? Clearly, millions of 
students have difficulty with college-level reading, but how do we 
know it's because of some problem with their brains? Do you know if 
Perfetti and the others you mention have ways of distinguishing 
reading problems due to brain function from reading problems due to 
other reasons, e.g. lack of strategies or subject matter knowledge?

Of course, if anyone else on the list can address these issues, I'd 
appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks,
Nic


>For those interested in brain research that seems to be having some
>interesting impact on the overall field of literacy, you might desire to
>look at the work of folks such as Bennett and Sally Shaywitz, Charles
>Perfetti, Kenneth Pugh, among others.  While some of the work has been done
>with problem readers, other work has been done with college freshmen.
>Perfetti did a great presentation at last year's NRC conference on the
>topic. Even those who do not believe that we are in a position to move such
>basic findings to the applied realm would have told you that he presented
>much to think about. He might be a viable keynote for the CRLA conference.
>
>Norman A. Stahl
>Professor and Chair
>Literacy Education
>GA 147
>Northern Illinois University
>DeKalb, IL 60115
>
>Phone: (815) 753-9032
>FAX:   (815) 753-8563
>[log in to unmask]
>
>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
>subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your 
>web browser to
>http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html
>
>To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]


-- 

Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention,  through 
the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in 
the world, with the world, and with each other. --Paolo Freire

Dominic (Nic) J. Voge
Study Strategies Program Coordinator
University of California, Berkeley
Student Learning Center
136 Cesar Chavez Student Center  #4260
Berkeley, CA 94720-4260

(510) 643-9278
[log in to unmask]
http://slc.berkeley.edu

SPRING 2006 OFFICE HOURS:
Appointments:
To Be Announced

Office Hours (drop-in):
Wednesdays 2-3
Thursdays 2-3

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your web browser to
http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html

To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]

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