Literacy practices of five adults with histories of reading difficulties

Dorothy Marie Cebula, University of Pennsylvania


This study examined report of self-perceptions of reading and writing activities from five adults, ages 22 to 31. All reported histories of school-based reading difficulties. A multi-case study approach included transcribed interviews, a self-recorded log of literacy events, and written responses to an open-ended questionnaire about literacy practices, strategies, and attitudes. Profiles of perceived literacy practices and perceptions of educational experiences emerged. Findings suggested that people in this group have increased their confidence in reading for occupational and social uses; however, most reported persistent difficulties with writing. Speculation on the reasons for the lack of improvement in writing, relative to reading, included little apparent need to write extensively at work, a concern for revealing perceived difficulties to the public, and self-described procrastination. Reading, by contrast, was seen as a means of getting work-related information. Reading also become a rewarding means of entertainment and companionship. Reported reading practices among participants from this group were comparable to those reported in the literature from other groups of adults. The two women in the group reflected on their reading in both work and family domains of their lives, although the three men discussed literacy events mainly within the scope of their employment. Participants expressed interest in possibly furthering their academic careers, although most reported difficulty and frustration with early school experiences. The presence of strong literacy networks was a positive influence on the stimulation of literacy practices among the people interviewed. In spite of histories of reading difficulties, many informants in this study accessed and used resources which helped them fulfill literacy goals in social and occupational situations. ^

Subject Area

Adult education|Special education|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Cebula, Dorothy Marie, "Literacy practices of five adults with histories of reading difficulties" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9308545.