Activating the Need to Know in Reading Instruction: One Teacher Educator's Practice

Apr. 15, 2012

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 34, Iss. 2, p. 133-145, 2012.
(Reviewed by the Team Portal)

This study explored how one teacher educator designed and delivered a beginning reading methods course.
The professor taught at a university in the southeastern United States, which was recognized for exemplary reading instruction.
Specifically, the study explored the following questions:
How was the course designed?
How was content delivered?
How did the preservice teachers respond to their preparation?

The participants in the study were the professor, who taught the course, and six preservice teachers.
Data were collected over the span of one semester while the reading methods course was being taught.
The data included the following sources: interviews, course assignments, feedback on assignments, and class deliberations.


The findings revealed that the teacher educator deliberately acted as a catalyst in activating the need to know within each preservice teacher by fostering a personal connection to the course content through careful course design.
For instance, the professor shared many examples of times she experienced a personal need to know in her teaching and explained how these influenced her design and delivery of this reading methods course.
The personal connection to the content advanced their learning experience beyond an intellectual exercise. It promoted higher student engagement.


The author argues that activating the need to know can be a valuable strategy in reading teacher preparation.
It helps engage preservice teachers, particularly those without prior classroom experience.

The findings suggest that activating preservice teachers' need to know often resulted in their deeper engagement with course content.
Activating preservice teachers' need to know may stir their desire to provide what each child needs to move forward in measureable ways.

Therefore, this teacher educator's practice can inform others who seek to establish closer and more productive links between coursework, fieldwork, and prospective teachers' teaching.
Professors in teacher preparation programs have the opportunity to critically assess both the content they teach their preservice teachers and how the content is delivered.

Heightening preservice teachers' awareness through activation of their need to know applies both to content areas and to other facets of teacher training such as classroom management, developing critical thinking skills, and parent communication.

Updated: Sep. 01, 2014