From a sociocultural perspective, individuals learn best from contextualized experiences. In preservice teacher education, contextualized experiences include authentic literacy experiences, which include a real reader and writer and replicate real life communication. To be prepared to teach well, preservice teachers need to gain literacy content knowledge and possess reading maturity.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of authentic literacy experiences as Book Buddies with Hispanic fourth graders on preservice teachers’ literacy content knowledge and reading maturity.
The study was a pretest/posttest design conducted over 12 weeks. Preservice teacher participants, the focus of the study, were elementary education majors taking the third of four required reading courses in non-probabilistic convenience groups, 43 (n = 33 experimental, n = 10 comparison) Elementary Education majors. The Survey of Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Teaching and Technology(SPTKTT), specifically designed for preservice teachers majoring in elementary or early childhood education and the Reading Maturity Survey (RMS) were used in this study. Preservice teachers chose either the experimental or comparison group based on the opportunity to earn extra credit points (experimental = 30 points, comparison = 15). After exchanging introductory letters preservice teachers and Hispanic fourth graders each read four books. After reading each book preservice teachers wrote letters to their student asking higher order thinking questions. Preservice teachers received scanned copies of their student’s unedited letters via email which enabled them to see their student’s authentic answers and writing levels.
A series of analyses of covariance were used to determine whether there were significant differences in the dependent variables between the experimental and comparison groups. This quasi-experimental study tested two hypotheses. Using the appropriate pretest scores as covariates for adjusting the posttest means of the subcategory Literacy Content Knowledge (LCK), of the SPTKTT and the RMS, the mean adjusted posttest scores from the experimental group and comparison group were compared. No significant differences were found on the LCK dependent variable using the .05 level of significance, which may be due to Type II error caused by the small sample size. Significant differences were found on RMS using the .05 level of significance.