Teachers' views and knowledge of balanced literacy programs

Janet Ann Ruffin Atwood, Fordham University


This survey research study proposed to explore teachers' views and knowledge of balanced literacy programs. This was a challenging area for investigation considering the shift away from a polarized phonics, skill-based, or whole language method toward a balanced approach to literacy instruction. Furthermore, this study sought to ascertain the theoretical orientation of literacy teachers determining whether the theoretical orientation of teachers matched in regard to their use of balance among lower, middle, and higher level cognitive functioning in curriculum planning utilizing Bloom's Hierarchical Taxonomy to assess essential questions on teachers' curriculum maps. Participation in this study was volitional. Extensive staff development in balanced literacy instruction qualified teachers for participation in the study. In addition, the building level principals corroborated the selection, indicating that the teacher participants were effective literacy teachers of effective balanced literacy instruction. Data collection utilized Interview Questionnaire response data matched with the Guidelines for Adequate Instruction in Literacy Scale (GAILS) in accordance with the National Research Council (1998) 15 theoretical constructs to explore teachers' views and knowledge of balanced literacy. A Literacy Belief Profile modification by Walsh (2001) of the Theoretical Orientation to Reading Profile (TORP; DeFord, 1979) was utilized to determine teachers' theoretical orientation. Curriculum Maps with a focus on teachers' essential questions were utilized to determine whether teacher participants match in their use of balance among lower, middle, and higher level cognitive functioning in curriculum planning. Bloom's Hierarchical Taxonomy was used to level the cognitive function of essential questions. Descriptive and inferential data from the Interview Questionnaire, Literacy Beliefs Profile, and Curriculum Maps indicated that teachers possess deep knowledge and hold strong views and understanding of balanced literacy consistent with research-based best practices (GAILS). Teachers' theoretical orientation reflected a Balanced Literacy Integration in which balance is viewed as a combination of 3 theoretical orientations, whole language, embedded phonics, and direct code (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Finally, teachers' theoretical orientation did not match in regard to balance in curriculum planning. Instructional bi-polarism was indicated between lower and higher level essential questions with a lack of cognitive function in middle level essential questions.

Subject Area

Language arts|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Atwood, Janet Ann Ruffin, "Teachers' views and knowledge of balanced literacy programs" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3056132.