The emergent nature of the role of a reading specialist: A study of the sociopolitical forces that shape the role of a reading specialist

Meredith deHart Haab, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The role of the reading specialist is traditionally defined by lists of task competencies. Task competencies are fixed duties or actions performed by reading specialists, in general. The tasks are decontextualized from school culture so that they become generic and meaningless for reading specialists working within specific schools. Thus, task competency lists define what reading specialists do in general but do not help us understand, from an ecological perspective, the role of the reading specialist within the interacting systems that comprise school culture. ^ This study examines the contextualized role of the reading specialist as it's situated within the study site, a public elementary school. The main research question of this study is: What is the role of the reading specialist at Central Elementary School? This study goes on to connect the role of the reading specialist to political, cultural, and organizational forces inherent in the school culture by asking the following research questions: What factors cause the reading specialist's power to change? What aspects of the culture seem to have the greatest impact on the role of the reading specialist? And, What are the traditions of the school that most affect the role of the reading specialist? At Central, reading specialists' roles seemed to be shaped by the sociopolitical forces of power, tradition, and history unique to the study site. ^ Using a naturalistic, qualitative research design, this case study was highly situational to the study site. Data collection techniques such as journaling, field notes, individual and small group interviews, and written questionnaires allowed for participant researcher inquiry with frequent interpretation checks for trustworthiness. ^ Through inductive analysis, this study shows that the role of the reading specialist is emergent in nature, not static and fixed. It is shaped by sociopolitical forces specific to each school culture. The implications of this study seem to be that rather than being a fixed and static role, the role of the reading specialist is responsive and dynamic. It is intimately connected to and interacts with inherent sociopolitical forces unique to the school culture within which it is situated. ^

Subject Area

Education, Elementary|Education, Reading

Recommended Citation

Meredith deHart Haab, "The emergent nature of the role of a reading specialist: A study of the sociopolitical forces that shape the role of a reading specialist" (January 1, 2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3030094.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3030094

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