Research Spotlight

Leigh Hall examines sixth-grade students’ beliefs about reading

Leigh Hall

Leigh Hall


Leigh Hall, assistant professor of literacy studies, is examining sixth-grade students’ small group discussions about texts and reading instruction in their social studies class. She is considering how students’ beliefs about their abilities as readers influences how they use reading instruction and participate in discussions about texts in school. She also is examining students’ participation based on their reading level─whether they read above, on or below their current grade level.

Hall found that students who saw themselves as high-performing readers, regardless of their actual reading level, had discussions that were markedly different from students who saw themselves as average or low-performing readers. Students who saw themselves as high-performing readers used reading instruction to deepen their knowledge of content and address their specific comprehension problems.

In contrast, students who were identified as average or low-performing readers separated their talk about reading instruction from their talk about the texts and tended to have one or two favorite ways to attempt to solve comprehension problems regardless of their success.

These findings suggest that responding to students based on their reading level may result in failing to see how some students who read below grade level engage with texts and strategies in more sophisticated ways than might be expected. Conversely, students who read on or above grade level may need assistance that may not be recognized because of their status in the class.