Culturally responsive instruction refers to the identification of relevant cultural aspects of students’ lives and infusion of these into the curriculum. This instructional approach assumes that a culturally appropriate curriculum can potentially motivate, engage, and lead students to higher rates of achievement.
This quasi-experimental study (N=44) investigated the relationship of culturally responsive instruction and the reading comprehension and attitude of struggling urban adolescent readers. The study incorporated the use of culturally responsive instruction using culturally relevant literature (CRL), the Bluford Series Novels, as authentic texts of instruction. Participants were seventh grade reading students at a Title I middle school in South Florida.
After a baseline period, two different classes were taught for 8 weeks using different methods. One class formed the experimental group (n=22) and the other class formed the comparison group (n=22). The CRI curriculum for the experimental group embraced the socio-cultural perspective through the use of small discussion groups in which students read and constructed meaning with peers through interaction with the Bluford Series Novels; gave written responses to multiple strategies according to SCRAP – Summarize, Connect, Reflect, Ask Questions, Predict; responded to literal and inferential questions, while at the same time validating their responses through evidence from the text. The Read XL (basal reader) curriculum of the comparison group utilized a traditional form of instruction which incorporated the reading of passages followed by responses to comprehension questions, and teacher-led whole group discussion.
The main sources of data were collected from the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests, the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR), and the Rhody Secondary Reading Attitude Assessment. Statistical analyses were performed using Repeated Measures ANOVAs.
Findings from the study revealed that the experimental participants’ reading attitudes and FAIR comprehension scores increased when compared to the comparison group. Overall, the results from the study revealed that culturally responsive instruction can potentially foster reading comprehension and a more positive attitude towards reading. However, a replication of this study in other settings with a larger, more randomized sample size and a greater ethnic variation is needed in order to make full generalizations.