We should not think that the only option for training in the field of
developmental reading should/must come out of matriculation in a program of
such narrow focus. The vast majority of the individuals who have offered
the most in the way of theory, research, and even best practice across the
past 35 years did not train in programs that target college reading. Some
did--most didn't (or couldn't).

If you are not able to relocate to take on a program of studies specific to
developmental reading, look at the programs that provide generalist
training in reading at the doctoral level within your region (travel
ability). Determine if that program has an individual on board who knows
the field of developmental reading. If the answer is yes, determine the
degree to which you can undertake independent research -- independent
studies with that person as part of your studies. Determine if you would be
allowed to focus major projects in classes and various research
requiremenst on postecondary literacy. Determine if the ed psych program
has faculty members who understand strategic learning with college students
-- can such an individual be on your program or doctoral committee.
Determine if the program might allow you to have an external member from
another school (a person with high expertise---e.g., Caverly with devo rdg
and tech) on the dissertation committee when you reach that level.

Understand that a good doctoral course in the psychology of reading or the
sociology of reading or etc. will naturally cross developmental levels.
Reading the Handbook of Reading Research is a lifespan oriented activity
(not that it takes that long it only seems that way).

You want to have the opportunity to work with individuals from varied
backgrounds (your student colleagues will likely teach you more than your
professors in ever so many ways). Write your papers on postsecondary
reading. Eventually begin to focus papers on the dissertation area.

Individuals with too much breadth will be in trouble. Individuals with too
much depth will be in trouble. There is a happy medium that permits you to
be well-rounded yet an expert in an area.

Go where you will learn to conduct research -- whether basic or applied. A
doctorate is all about research and theory (at all of Bloom's levels).

The bottom line is that individuals never went wrong by selecting a
doctoral program in reading that had a legacy of national class graduates
and a faculty internationally valued for its contributions. The former will
be your family and the latter will be your heroes. Good luck----it's a big
decision. It will change your life!

But, what the heck do I know.....

Norman A. Stahl
Professor and Chair
Literacy Education
GA 147
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

National Reading Conference

Phone: (815) 753-9032
FAX:   (815) 753-8563
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