Reading

Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part 3: The Reading Wars Cont.

Note: This is the third part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

In my last two posts, I discussed the classification of Literacy Studies as a horizontal knowledge structure (proposed by Bernstein) and provided evidence of the same with samples from the McKenna et al. and Edelsky discourse during the Reading Wars. I argue that the Reading Wars are a traditional academic feud in a horizontal knowledge structure, and an analysis of the Reading Wars from a Bernsteinian perspective can reveal how and why the feud occurred. In this post, I will analyze Features 2-3 that I outlined in my first post.

In the table in my last post, I provided representative examples from the M-E discourse that illustrate the features of a horizontal knowledge structure. I have numbered each feature for ease of explanation. For the sake of clarity, I refer to McKenna’s first article as “McKenna et al., 1990a” and their rejoinder “McKenna et al., 1990b.” Citations from quotes in the M-E discourse are not linked. They can be found at McKenna et al., 1990a; Edelsky, and McKenna et al, 1990b.

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Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part 2: The Reading Wars

Note: This is the second part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

In my last post, I argued that the Reading Wars illustrate the horizontal knowledge structure of Literacy Studies. In the tradition of Christie & Macken-Horarik (2007), I will now explain the conceptual basis for classifying Literacy Studies as a horizontal knowledge structure by analyzing the McKenna et al. and Edelsky (M-E) discourse.

In the table below, I provide representative examples from the M-E discourse that illustrate the features of a horizontal knowledge structure. I have numbered each feature for ease of explanation later. For the sake of clarity, I refer to McKenna’s first article as “McKenna et al., 1990a” and their rejoinder “McKenna et al., 1990b.” Citations from quotes are not linked. They can be found at McKenna et al., 1990a; Edelsky, and McKenna et al, 1990b.
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Traditional Academic Feuds in Literacy Studies Part I: Knowledge Structures

Note: This is the first part of a multi-part series which (eventually) will become a term paper for a class seminar on literacy.

The Reading Wars of the 1990s were documented by the exchanges between Edelsky and McKenna, Robinson, & Miller in Educational Researcher.  This theoretical conflict between Whole Language and Traditional Literacy represents what I call a “traditional academic feud.” A traditional academic feud is a social phenomenon in an academic field of study where two or more groups theorize about or describe a single phenomenon in categorically different ways. That a traditional academic feud eventually achieved “war” status is a curious phenomenon–but perhaps no more curious than the fact that academic feuds occur in the first place. In this series, I plan to explain 1) why the academic feud of the Reading Wars occurred, 2) why the feud escalated to a war, and 3) why a similar feud developed recently in the reading comprehension field, and  (if I am brave enough) 4) how we might avoid wars and have more productive feuds in Literacy Studies. (more…)

Literacy Education: Mobile Eye-Tracking Software and Reading Rate

Recently a few stories have been discussing the Samsung Galaxy S IV’s eye-tracking function that allows users to scroll through pages using their eyes. There was some concern raised about the privacy implications of this technology if it did, indeed, track eye movement. However, it appears that such concerns are somewhat unwarranted. Mashable reports that the eye-scrolling feature relies more on “facial recognition and tilt” and can pause video when your head turns away. Eye-tracking this is not–or at least, a very primitive form of eye-tracking.

Eye-Tracking and Reading Research

So it’s a false alarm. But the idea of eye-tracking software is not too far-fetched, as it appears Swedish Tobii may be developing other forms of the technology. The issue of eye tracking could have multiple uses, and at some point someone is going to suggest it can cure reading problems. Eye movement studies in reading date at least back to Huey, almost a hundred years, although thankfully we’ve moved on from the “dark ages” form of reading research. Huey tracked eye movement by placing a “cup” made of plaster of Paris on the cornea (numbing the eye with cocaine to alleviate discomfort) and attaching a thin aluminum “pointer” to the cup, which then transferred the movements to paper. Samsung’s limited eye movement technology just takes your picture.
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