The dynamic potential of new pedagogies for teaching reading: An international study

Year: 2012

Author: Walsh, Maureen, Simpson, Alyson, Rowsell, Jennifer

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Educational researchers (e.g. Kress, 2003; Bearne et al, ; Rowsell, 2009; Walsh, 2006; Simpson & Walsh, 2012) have established that screen-based reading is a different process from the left-to-right,  linear reading of print-based texts. The increased use of mobile and touch pad devices, particularly iPads, adds a further dynamic to 'reading on screen'. This international collaborative study is i) documenting and analysing the distinctive reading processes which occur when students aged 8-15 use iPads during literacy blocks; and  ii) analysing the pedagogic practices employed by teachers to scaffold student literacy learning with iPads compared with print-based texts.

Case study methodology, recommended for literacy research (Barone, 2004), has been chosen to enable the analysis of complex classroom data over two years in the three different sites. There are weekly observations of: students and teachers while they use digital technologies to complete in-class reading activities; on-going engagement with digital technologies; learner-teacher interactions; and teacher pedagogy. Participants' perspectives are being captured during the reading of multimodal, digital texts. Each team is interpreting teaching methodologies, genres of texts, technologies used, how difficulties in reading development are approached, perceived disconnections between traditional reading strategies, and 'new' literacies tied to digital texts.

This paper presents initial findings from this research for discussion and critique. The presentation will complement findings to be published soon by the Canadian team (Rowsell et al, in press, 2012). Our observations are enabling us to map some students' engagement with the multi-directionality of researching, reading, viewing, recording, designing and producing multimodal texts. At the same time we are observing the importance and nature of the teacher's pedagogy to scaffold the dynamism of student exploration and interaction with iPads. We offer detailed descriptions of reading and literacy with 21st century texts and suggest frameworks for pedagogy.