Signed Feedback for English Writing Using MyThread.
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Upon admission at Gallaudet University, freshman students are assessed in ASL, Math, reading and writing in order to determine their course placement for these subjects. Some of these students score below what is required in these basic courses so that classes that provide additional support are created to meet their needs. These students typically score between 56 to 70 in DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) and 3 and below in the GWE (GWE). The cut off score is above 70 in DRP and 4 in GWE. Freshman students who do not meet the cut off score are placed GSR102 S-sections. The students in these sections have gaps in their comprehension and critical reading and writing skills so they are given instructional tools and support to develop their skills up to par. How does one effectively approach the reading and writing instruction of these students, who are considered second language learners? One approach is to look at their first language literacy skills and investigate how it can be used to aid in improving their second language literacy skill. This approach is based on Olson’s (1989) theory of the development of literate thought, which deaf linguist and educator, Marlon Kuntze(2004), used to explain why some deaf students are able to successfully develop reading and writing skills in English in spite of impoverished linguistic input in this language. Kuntze proposed that the deaf students development of literate thought in their natural language ASL could support their development of literacy skills in English. Literate thought is developed through a student’s participation in linguistic face-to-face discourse that promotes critical reflection and reasoning. These skills are necessary for literacy development. Promoting critical reflection and reasoning in face-to-face discourse is a form of active learning, one of the benchmarks of effective educational practice identified in the 2011 NSSE Gallaudet Study. Developing literate thought in face-to-face discourse, therefore, has potential to support deaf students development of reading and writing skills.
Issue to be Investigated
Rosalinda M. Ricasa, Ph.D.
GSR102 is one General Requirement Studies (GSR) course that focuses on the critical reading and writing skills students need to succeed in higher education. It is a foundational course that aims to equip students to successfully approach academic reading and writing tasks. In this course, students critically analyze text content and writing style as well as write critically about their readings in class. One of the sections for this course, categorized as S-section, requires additional instructional support for the students. The class has six hours of instruction every week instead of the regular course of four hours. The instructor provides scaffolding for the lessons, often breaking down reading and writing tasks and taking the students step-by-step through the different processes involved in reading and writing. One strategy I tried in the Fall semester that the students found beneficial was to have the students to respond to reading comprehension and discussion questions in ASL. They do this using MyThread. Through their discussions and responses in ASL, I can gauge whether they have understood the assigned reading passages or not. Then I give feedback, clarify their answers, and guide them towards appropriate responses. In this way, I provide opportunity for them to engage in literate discourse. However, I often give the feedback through writing and not through ASL discourse, which should be the case if I would like to promote literate discourse in their natural language. I would like to investigate the impact of this strategy on the development of the students’ reading skills in their second language. Since I will be handling two S-sections of GSR102 in the Spring semester, I can provide written feedback to the students responses in one class and give signed feedback to the students’ responses in the other class. In this way, I can compare the differences in the classes and find out if indeed literate discourse in the students’ natural sign language can promote their critical critical reading skills in their second language.
Course and Context
Assessment of Impact
on Student Learning
At the beginning of the semester, students will be take a reading comprehension test that includes a component where they sign their response to critical reading questions. A checklist will also be developed and used to describe the students literate discourse in ASL. I hope to use these assessment tools to determine the reading skill level of the students at the beginning of the semester. In addition to these assessments, I will collect student profile information that will include the other courses they are taking and the strategies their teachers are using in their classes. This is necessary in order to identify variables that may affect the results of the research. During the semester, I will devise reading activities that will engage students in literate discourse in ASL about the passages they are reading in class as well as give homework assignments that will ask them to respond to discussion questions in MyThread. At the end of the semester, a reading comprehension test similar to the one given at the beginning of class will also be administered to evaluate the difference in the skill level at the beginning and the end of class.
Kuntze, M. (2004). Literacy acquisition and deaf children: A study of interaction between ASL and written English. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Stanford University, California.
Olson, D. (1989). Literate thought. In C. K. Leong and B. Randawa (Eds.), Understanding Literacy and Cognition (pp. 69-98). Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press.