Essays in Education


What are the possibilities when teacher candidates participate in focused instruction in reader response theory and connected opportunities to experience response to literature, then design and implement response experiences with their elementary students? Consideration of this question led to this study that describes teacher candidates’ knowledge about reader response theory and their perceptions of the value and usefulness of reader response theory throughout a semester of focused experiences in university and elementary classrooms. Through qualitative analysis, four distinct, but related themes emerged. These themes describe teacher candidates who: 1) are at differing stages of understanding, 2) find that responding to literature is not “normal” to the elementary students they taught, 3) view reader response experiences as being joyful opportunities for students, and 4) make strong connections between reader response and critical thinking.

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