Transactional theory model of reading
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Transactional Theory/Model of Reading. EDC565 Group Presentations - Jen Moretti and Tara Walsh. Principles of a Transactional Model of Reading.

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Transactional Theory/Model of Reading

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Transactional theory model of reading

Transactional Theory/Model of Reading

EDC565 Group Presentations -

Jen Moretti and Tara Walsh

Principles of a transactional model of reading

Principles of a Transactional Model of Reading

  • Reading is developing meaning from a combination of a particular reader, at a particular time/context, with a particular text. It is a transaction between the author, reader, and text.

  • Reading is a “choosing activity.” Readers bring feelings, attitudes, expectations, and a purpose to each text, and this leads to meaning, or evocation.

  • Our “stance” toward reading could be efferent (scientific, reading for info) or aesthetic (artistic, feeling). Different texts lend themselves toward one or the other, usually, but reader’s stance determines the experience they will have with that text.

  • Teaching reading requires a teacher to raise questions that grow more complex reading transactions, and construct and facilitate activities in an environment that encourages the reader to make meaning of their own.

Aligning transactional models of reading with historical eras

Aligning Transactional Models of Reading With Historical Eras

  • Sociocultural Learning Era of 1986-1995 and the Engaged Learning Erra of 1996-Present

  • Sociocultural Learning:

    a sociocultural, collaborative experience shaped by aesthetics;

    a shared understanding of many rather than the private knowledge of one (Alexander and Fox)

    Engaged Learning:

    meaning is made of a combination of physical, personal, social, cultural factors chosen at a particular moment;

    cognitive, aesthetic, and sociocultural elements work together to make meaning (Alexander Fox)

Conditions that prompted transactional models of reading

Conditions that prompted Transactional Models of Reading

  • Many students failing to thrive in explicit training programs.

  • Learning was now being acknowledged as individualistic.

  • General skepticism of formal, traditional, scientific knowledge. Suspected as a tool of the government to dominate.

  • More attention to varied methods of instruction

  • Swing toward the natural/sociocultural view.

  • Rosenblatt taught 10 years of courses in literature and composition. She also had a background in anthropology.

  • Influence of Neils Bohr’s (1959) explanation that “the observer is part of the observation”.

Leading researchers of transactional research in reading

Leading Researchers of Transactional Research in Reading

  • Louise Rosenblatt (created theory)

  • Dewey & Bentley (philosophers- “Knowing and the Known” (1949) advanced the thought that learning wasn’t an interaction (2 separate things work together). It was a transaction (2 things become 1 entity).

  • Vygotsky (social and cultural anthropologist-“a word acquires its sense from the context in which it appears”)

  • Bates’ iceberg metaphor: public meaning of a word (dictionaries) just the tip vs. private associations

How does a transactional model inform research in reading

How does a Transactional model inform research in reading?

A.New Areas of Research Focus:

  • Human transaction with speaking, reading writing and the environment

  • Qualitative information and aesthetic aspects of reading, mainly various components of meaning

    Questions for Research:

  • How do humans make meaning? (This will help us understand how we make meaning of transactions with text.)

  • How can we best support the aesthetic and efferent aspects of text transactions equally?


  • Most effective if a researcher plans and works with a classroom teacher in a qualitative study.

  • Also, longitudinal studies and interdisciplinary studies are needed.

  • Instructional Recommendations:

    • Guide efferent and aesthetic aspects of reading equally.

    • Teach reading in terms of individual experiences and social interactions.

  • Visual of transactional theory

    Visual of Transactional Theory


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