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Learning from text in an advanced government and politics course

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We report a study of the literacy challenges faced by students and teachers in an advanced, project-based version of the US Government and Politics course. The study occurred in the current era of school reform when students of all abilities, not just well-prepared students, are encouraged to take advanced classes. As a result, classrooms contain individuals with a wide range of reading abilities and domain knowledge. Students in this study, when working with course texts, encountered densely constructed textbooks, challenging specialized vocabulary, and lack of teacher support for learning from text. Generally, they could read but not comprehend. Both teachers and students developed strategies to avoid learning from textbased resources. These strategies hindered students’ ability to learn course content and further disadvantaged students who needed more practice and support in learning from text. We end with two recommendations for supporting all students to effectively learn from civic-related texts.
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Keywords: adolescent literacy; civic education; diverse classrooms; political education; reading comprehension; secondary education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Washington

Publication date: 01 December 2015

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  • Citizenship Teaching and Learning is global in scope, exploring issues of social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. It advances academic and professional understandings within a broad characterisation of education, focussing on a wide range of issues including identity, diversity, equality and social justice within social, moral, political and cultural contexts.
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