This is a study of a classroom community. Using a teacher researcher perspective, this study examined the responses fifth-grade children's responses to literature as they participated in student-directed literature response groups. The main purposes of this study were: to inform practitioners about the role response groups play in meaning-centered learning and empowerment, and to examine and describe the classroom environment that provides the context for the development of this community of learners. The researcher's own fifth-grade classroom of twenty-nine children was used as the research site during the spring semester of the school year. Events were recorded through the teacher's log, audiotaping and videotaping, and photographs. Additional data were gathered through portfolios of student work, student surveys and questionnaires, and individual student response journals. During the course of the study, students read both teacher-selected and student-selected texts, and they participated in both teacher-selected and student-selected literature discussion groups. Results of this study provided the following information regarding the role which literature response groups played in meaning-centered learning and empowerment: (1) These groups provided the structure and opportunity for students to meet with peers to construct meaning from text. (2) Involvement in these groups necessitated an active role in decision making that impacted directly on their experience within the group. (3) Participation in the group seemed to increase students' sense of empowerment. (4) Students appeared to use the discussion group as a forum for meaning construction in preference to the individual journal entries. (5) Students appeared to communicate social issues and concerns through the individual journals. While it is understood that the conclusions of this study are the result of one teacher researcher's experience within her own fifth-grade classroom, it is hoped that others will consider the findings useful as they design and implement programs in their own settings.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 53-08, Section: A, page: 2683. Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 1992.