It's Not That They Can't Read; It's That They Can't Read: Can We Create "Citizen Experts" Through Interactive Assessment?

Pearlman, Steven J.
December 2013
Across the Disciplines;2013 Special Issue, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p6
Academic Journal
Examining deficits in the development of adolescent literacy, this article explores conceptions of literacy not as a "simple" exercise that merely requires layperson understandings of words, but rather, as research shows, as a deeper action that requires disciplinary knowledge and standing. Vygotsky's distinction between tool users vs. sign users further explicates why educators should not consider true literacy to be the acquisition of terminology, but rather the internalization of language such that the language actually changes paradigms and shapes thought. As one potentially new way to cultivate literacy in students, this article describes a study of interactive writing assessment. Students who summatively assessed each other's work also reported improvement in their ability to read more deeply, presumably because of their inclusion in a disciplinary activity. Involving students in writing assessment can potentially result in dramatic gains in their reading abilities because doing so invests students in (1) the reading of course texts as resources for their own papers, (2) the reading of other students' papers, (3) the reading of how other students read the course texts, and (4) the discussion of meaning making about all of the above.


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