Research on Reading Programs

RESEARCH ON READING PROGRAMS: SCIENTIFIC VERSUS "QUALITATIVE" RESEARCH

UNSCIENTIFIC STUDIES:

  • "Whole language" is typically endorsed by faulty research termed "qualitative research" by its proponents 
  • The results are "descriptive" – for example: "teachers use phonics in whole language" is a "research finding" 
  • There is no separation of groups that receive the experimental treatment from "control" groups not receiving treatment that can be used to compare outcomes 
  • There are no definitive conclusions because there is nothing to compare with 
  • There does not appear to be any random assignment of subjects (teachers/ schools/ students/ or programs) in such studies 
  • Recent teacher training programs employ these "results" to document effectiveness of whole language programs and to disparage phonics 
  • School administrators seem unaware of the unscientific nature of the studies 
  • Many reading curricula are chosen by educators using outcomes of this kind of "research" 
  • Current teachers are frequently not trained to teach reading effectively

SCIENTIFIC STUDIES:

  • Typically more balanced view of programs 
  • The studies have long duration and are carefully designed so that only one component of the reading program is changed at a single time 
  • There are always "control" groups that do not receive the expermental treatment for the duration of the study, so that results with and without treatment can be compared 
  • Groups are carefully matched and the subjects of the study (teachers/ schools/ students/ or programs) are randomly assigned 
  • Study outcomes can be replicated if conditions are duplicated.