Harvard Educational Review

Published by Harvard Education Publishing Group

Online ISSN: 1943-5045


Print ISSN: 0017-8055


Figure 1. Frequency of Reading and Writing for Pleasure — Percent of Student Responses (n = 716) 
Table 1 Student Demographics for the Full Sample
Figure 2. Average Responses of Frequency Outside School Reading by Text/Genre (n = 716) 
Table 2 Students' Self-Reported Frequencies of Reading and Writing for Pleasure by Gender, Grade, Race, and Language
Figure 3. Average Self-Reported Frequencies of Writing Outside of School by Text/Genre (n = 716) 
The Complex World of Adolescent Literacy: Myths, Motivations, and Mysteries
  • Article
  • Full-text available

April 2008


497 Reads



Nicole Tysvaer


Karen Morris
In this article, Elizabeth Birr Moje, Melanie Overby, Nicole Tysvaer, and Karen Morris challenge some of the prevailing myths about adolescents and their choices related to reading. The reading practices of youth from one urban community are examined using mixed methods in an effort to define what, how often, and why adolescents choose to read. By focusing on what features of texts youth find motivating, the authors find that reading and writing frequently occur in a range of literacy contexts outside school. However, only reading novels on a regular basis outside of school is shown to have a positive relationship to academic achievement as measured by school grades. This article describes how adolescents read texts that are embedded in social networks, allowing them to build social capital. Conclusions are framed in terms of the mysteries that remain - namely, how to build on what motivates adolescents' literacy practices in order to both promote the building of their social selves and improve their academic outcomes.

The Rediscovery of the Need for a Feminist Medical Education

February 1979


23 Reads

For well over a century, women have sought acceptance in the medical profession. The first breakthrough in this effort, in the late nineteenth century, resulted in a "golden age": women then accounted for up to half of some medical school graduating classes. These early successes were not followed by subsequent gains. The twentieth century became a period of stagnation for women physicians with respect to both their number and their power. Against the background of this earlier history, this article analyzes contemporary efforts to empower women as physicians.

Effect of Early Father Absence on Scholastic Aptitude

April 1964


36 Reads

This article reports the results of an investigation of the effect of father absence on young children in terms of the patterns of math and verbal aptitude scores which these children later attain on college entrance examinations. The author relates the findings to sex-identification theory. (31 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Abused and Neglected Children in America: A Study of Alternative Policies

November 1973


48 Reads

Both the print and electronic media recently have highlighted the problems faced by severely abased and neglected children in America. Many suggestions have been offered for ameliorating the conditions leading to child abuse and neglect,but few hard data exist to tell us which social policies can be most effective in combatting these conditions. In this article, several sources of data are examined to estimate the incidence of abuse, its social and demographic features, and the nature of available child abuse case reports. Three potential social policies are analyzed in detail: national health screening, education in child rearing, and the development of profiles of abusing families with the hope of offering them preventive help. Each analysis has two underlying themes. First, even with incomplete data it is often possible to evaluate the probable effectiveness of a social policy before it is implemented. Second, data initially collected in a non-experimental setting ran still be used to suggest improvements in policy. The author concludes with a series of recommendations urging more systematic and carefully designed investigations of reporting systems and ameliorative efforts. Such investigations are necessary to enable firm inferences about the comparative effectiveness of different programs to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

Academic achievement and the structure of competition

January 1959


485 Reads

The interests and values of approximately 8000 high school boys and girls were measured by a questionnaire. Irrespective of the wide differences in parental background, type of school, and type of community, there was a marked nonchalance and even a negative attitude towards scholastic matters. Possible origins of this situation are considered and a remedy, in terms of a changed reward structure, suggested. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Process and Achievement: A Basic Problem of Education and Developmental Psychology

January 1937


98 Reads

This is a search of supporting evidence for divergent views as to the nature of the development of mental processes, or abilities, in studies of analogous function revealed in the learning of children and in pathological cases. The ability to apprehend or classify objects and to make abstractions demonstrates, to the author's satisfaction, that learning is achieved not as a unitary function but by increasingly complex process-patterns, which are quite different at different levels. Not only achievement, but knowledge of the method or process employed by a child as well, becomes an essential for both genetic psychology and education. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Administrator, advocate, or therapist?

January 1965


7 Reads

It is argued that the current position of the school counselor really contains 3 diverse and contradictory functions. The effects of each role on the counselor, student and school administrator are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

The Leader Behavior and Leadership Ideology of Educational Administrators and Aircraft Commanders

January 1955


48 Reads

"Initiation of Structure" and "Consideration," identified as fundamental dimensions of leader behavior, were studied by means of a specially-devised Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) in 2 groups of educational administrators and aircraft commanders. In both leader behavior and leadership ideology, administrators revealed greater Consideration and less Initiation of Structure than aircraft commanders. Low correlations existed in both samples between real and ideal behavior, but a tendency to a closer relationship was indicated for that dimension of leader behavior which is least supported by the institutional mores. 19 references. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

A New Perspective on the Effects of First-Grade Teachers on Children's Subsequent Adult Status

February 1978


194 Reads

Conducted research in a school in a poor area of a large northeastern American city. In a system of about 80 elementary schools, this one consistently evidenced the lowest group IQ scores. School records and extensive interviews with past pupils over a 25-yr period were used to relate IQ changes, teachers' attitudes, and subsequent adult status. In striking contrast to many recent studies, a dramatic relationship was demonstrated between 1st-grade teachers' attributes and adult status, both in terms of academic self-concept and achievement in school and later life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Microcomputer Use in Schools: Developing a Research Agenda

November 1983


15 Reads

Interviewed in the community, school system, and individual schools and observed classrooms in 3 geographically distinct school districts to develop an agenda for future research on microcomputers (MCs). A large southwestern city introduced MCs through centralized authority and used MCs located in resource rooms for teaching packages and programming and literacy instruction. Students left their classrooms to use MCs an average of 10 min/day/student. A large midwestern city had decentralized introduction of MCs; half of the 80 in the system were owned by schools. MCs were used for programming and drill and for innovative programs proposed by individual teachers using key resources provided by the central administration and a statewide computing organization. A northeastern suburban system, where most authority resided at the grassroots level, was beginning to become concerned about the lack of coherence and policy about MC use. The 6 areas suggested for study, as a result of these observations, are access to MCs, new roles in response to MCs, integration of MCs into elementary classrooms and curricula, quantity and quality of software, preparation of teachers for using MCs, and the effects and outcomes of the instructional use of MCs. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Either We're Too Early and They Can't Learn It or We're Too Late and They Know It Already: The Dilemma of "Applying Piaget"

August 1979


71 Reads

First American reactions to Piaget's work were characterized by an understandable skepticism; it is difficult to accept data that contravene cherished beliefs. This was followed by a desire among both psychologists and educators to accelerate development, even though Piaget cautioned against doing this. Convinced behaviorists remain convinced and the debate continues in Geneva and elsewhere. A review of these developments leads to the conclusion that the dilemma suggested by the title of this article is both false and beside the point. Issues of greater relevance and educational concern are raised by recent Piagetian research in Geneva. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Alternative Conceptualizations of Dyslexia: Evidence in Support of a Verbal-Deficit Hypothesis

August 1977


37 Reads

Examines 4 prevalent explanations for specific reading disability in children: deficiencies in visual processing, deficiencies in intersensory integration, dysfunction in temporal-order perception, and deficiencies in verbal processing. Both direct and inferential evidence suggest that the last is the most convincing; i.e., there is a relationship between reading problems and dysfunction in the semantic, syntactic, or phonological aspects of language. By implication, the linguistic problems of certain poor readers necessitate emphasis upon the internal structure of words. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Amphetamines in the Treatment of Hyperkinetic Children

November 1973


42 Reads

The authors review research on the effects of amphetamines on children, particularly hyperactive children in the classroom. They point out that there is no clear evidence these drugs should be prescribed as often as they are. The "hyperkinetic syndrome" remains vague both in its diagnosis and its etiology, and the mechanism of amphetamine action is unclear. The assumption that amphetamines have a paradoxical,calming effect on hyperactive children, unlike the stimulating effect they exert on adults, may accurately describe the apparent effects of the drugs on attention and other aspects of socially accepted classroom behavior, but it does not justify the interpretation that amphetamine effects are qualitatively different for children than for adults, without the same potential for harm. The authors conclude that the possible adverse effects of these drugs and their unknown long-term risks require that we consider the present policy of amphetamine administration in the schools.

Learning about Psycholinguistic Processes by Analyzing Oral Reading

August 1977


90 Reads

Kenneth and Yetta Goodman argue that reading, like speaking and writing, is an active language process in which readers display their sophistication as functional psycholinguists. The authors note, however, that it is difficult to gain access to and understand these active, underlying processes. To make such processes accessible,the authors advocate the use of oral reading as a data base. The Goodmans maintain that when oral readers depart from the written text—when miscues occur—the underlying processes of reading begin to be revealed. Using examples from children and adults, the authors present a typology of miscues and demonstrate how miscues provide a window on reading and other language processes. Throughout the article the Goodmans note the implications of miscue analysis for research and teaching.

Anxiety and Mathematics: An Update

February 1980


208 Reads

Research has so far failed to reveal any evidence that sex differences in mathematics performance are biologically based. However, expectations of success and patterns of attribution are sex-linked. Prevailing programs for the correction of "math anxiety" need to be evaluated in the light of contemporary theories of learning that attempt to provide clearly articulated behavior change models to the learning of mathematics. Techniques arising out of such perspectives could be effective in reversing female underachievement in mathematics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Success anxiety in women: A constructivist interpretation of its social significance.

February 1980


30 Reads

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, M. Horner employed the TAT to establish the widely and still accepted notion that women fear success or are anxious when they expect it. Close scrutiny of Horner's methodology and interpretation of her data in the light of more recent research lead to an alternative conclusion: It is the climate of competition that arouses the anxiety rather than success itself. Much depends on the definition of "anxiety" employed. Drawing on the constructivist model, it is suggested that women's "success anxiety" is primarily a reflection of the female way of constructing reality. Rather than attempting to eliminate "fear of success" by training women to compete according to the prevailing masculine rules, society's institutions require restructuring to facilitate other routes to success. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

The Scholastic Aptitude Test: A Critical Appraisal

May 1980


111 Reads

Examination of pertinent studies indicates that (1) training for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) can effectively help students raise their scores and (2) the test adds little to the student's high school record in predicting college performance. Although an "aura of secrecy" surrounds the SAT and detailed information about the test is hard to come by, these findings would seem to be contrary to pronouncements by both Educational Testing Service and the College Board. Students who believed that they did not have to prepare for the SAT or who had limited opportunity for preparation may have been needlessly deprived of admission to the college of their choice. Furthermore, if low scores are interpreted as an indication of personal deficiencies, students who accept the validity of the SAT as a measure of aptitude may needlessly suffer loss of self-esteem. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Transference and Appropriation in Popular Education Interventions: A Framework for Analysis

February 1990


11 Reads

Discusses a popular education project in Chile, called the Learning Workshops, which is aimed at using the educational potential of the community to confront the educational failure of children from low-income families. Autonomy has been achieved in some areas after the withdrawal of professionals, and the transference-appropriation process that leads to such autonomy is examined. Some of the strategies and processes that are crucial for achieving appropriation include linking the learning process to daily life, identifying motivation, and using permanent follow-up mechanisms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

A Policy Statement on Assessment Procedures and the Rights of Children

February 1974


6 Reads

Reports on an 8-yr study of school and agency child-classification procedures, based on standardized intelligence tests, in a California city of about 130,000 population. A disproportionately large number of Chicanos and Blacks were labeled as mentally retarded. It is argued that current classification procedures violate a number of key rights of children. Supplementary evaluations are proposed which assess a child's competencies outside of school: Only children scoring in the lowest 3% on standardized IQ tests and adaptive behavior evaluations should be placed in classes for the mentally retarded. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Has Compensatory Education Failed? Has It Been Attempted?

July 1969


10 Reads

Rejecting A. R. Jensen's (See 43:7) contentions with respect to the influences of genetic determinants upon intelligence in Negroes and whites, it is hypothesized instead that, given the necessary relationship between the physical structure of the nervous system and the behavior of the system (as in IQ), it is necessary to provide rich postnatal experience to develop the inherent structures. Analogies from animal research suggest that the physical development of the brain is directly influenced by its information-processing activities and that these activities are especially effective in neonatal organisms. (48 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Back to kindergarten basics

August 1985


9 Reads

Assaults teacher-proof curricula and abstract, formal learning theories in the kindergarten classroom. It is suggested that kindergartners are aware of their own learning needs and will practice activities necessary to satisfy those needs if allowed to do so. A key to developing these individualized curricula is an autonomous teacher with ample time to discover and help with what the children are trying to learn on their own. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Community Representation in Teacher Collective Bargaining: Problems and Prospects

May 1976


7 Reads

In the past decade, the authority of school administrators and school boards has been called into question by members of two emerging groups—teachers' unions and advocates of community control. While both movements have received much attention, the relationship between them has gone largely unrecognized. Charles W. Cheng argues that collective bargaining between unions and school systems is creating an infrastructure of labor-relations experts who are removing decisionmaking power from both school boards and rank-and-file teachers; as enlargement of the scope of bargaining pulls more and more educational-policy decisions into the collective-bargaining arena, parents and communities are pushed further than ever from the educational power structure. Yet ways exist to include parents and communities in educational decision making without sacrificing the gains which teachers' unions have won. Challenging teachers to reexamine the policies their leaders have pursued, the author describes and assesses several strategies for opening up the bargaining process.

Early Childhood Intervention: The Social Science Base of Institutional Racism

April 1970


204 Reads

Examines the assumptions underlying those intervention programs which tacitly label Negro behavior as pathological. It is suggested that the failure to recognize and utilize existing cultural forms obtaining within the lower-class black community in order to teach new skills constitutes a form of institutional racism and dooms programs such as Head Start to inevitable failure. Research on the Negro has been "guided by an ethnocentric liberal ideology which denies cultural differences and thus acts against the best interests of the people it wishes to understand and eventually help." A cultural difference model in which black children are described in sociolinguistic terms as speaking a highly developed but different variety of English from that which epitomizes the mainstream is presented as a viable alternative to existing genetic inferiority and social pathology models which tends to view the black man as a kind of "sick white." (64 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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