Knowledge base for teaching, pedagogical content knowledge, teacher effectiveness, teacher characteristics, reading achievement, reading improvement, beginning reading, reading instruction, reading difficulties, grade one


This study was designed with two goals in mind. The first goal was to describe the formal and practical knowledge of intensive reading intervention teachers related to beginning reading instruction with at-risk first graders. A second goal was to understand any potential relationships between intensive reading teachers’ practical knowledge and formal knowledge. These two goals framed the study’s three research questions. To answer these three questions, the study was conducted in two phases. Phase one included 32 participants, all of whom worked in the role of a K-2 intensive reading intervention teacher. Each of these 32 participants completed a background questionnaire and a paper/pencil Teacher Knowledge Assessment (TKA). The TKA measured participants’ formal knowledge of beginning reading concepts. Participants’ scores on the TKA were then rank-ordered from lowest to highest to help guide the selection of phase two participants. Eight teachers in all participated in phase two of the study dedicated to the study of teachers’ practical knowledge of reading. Participants’ practical knowledge of reading was explored through three activities including a semi-structured interview, a concept-mapping activity and a videotaped reading lesson. Data analysis revealed several important findings. Intensive reading intervention teachers in this study’s sample differed in their formal knowledge of reading, measured by the TKA, and in their practical knowledge of reading, explored through interviews, concept-maps and reading lessons. The TKA revealed that study participants’ held more formal knowledge of concepts related to phonology and phonics and less formal knowledge of concepts related to morphology and syllable types. Related to practical knowledge, data analysis revealed that the teachers in this sample differed in their knowledge of beginning reading with subject-matter knowledge iv accounting for most of the differences. These gaps in subject-matter knowledge also impacted this sample of teachers’ use of instructional strategies and purposes of instruction. Data analysis also revealed insight into the relationships between this sample of teachers’ formal and practical reading knowledge. In this sample, intensive reading intervention teachers with more formal knowledge of reading concepts as measured on the TKA demonstrated more evidence of these concepts within their instruction provided to at-risk first grade readers. The participants in this sample who had less formal knowledge of beginning reading as measured by the TKA demonstrated less evidence of these concepts within their instruction provided to at-risk first grade readers. Participants with less formal knowledge did accurately calibrate their knowledge of the concepts tested on the TKA but did not equate the lower scores to their practical knowledge and overall teaching efficacy. The findings from this study added several important contributions to the literature on teacher knowledge and beginning reading instruction. First, the study was unique in its focus on intensive reading intervention teachers, thus contributing new findings related to a specialized group of teachers. Secondly, this study contributed descriptions of teachers’ practical knowledge with regards to beginning reading instruction. These descriptions are relatively absent in the current literature on teacher knowledge. Thirdly, the results from this study supported earlier findings in favor of a specialized body of subject-matter knowledge, especially related to beginning reading skills and concepts. Finally, the results contributed insight into the relationships between teachers’ formal reading knowledge and practical reading knowledge


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Graduation Date





Biraimah, Karen


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program









Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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