Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Stephen B. Graves, Ph.D.


Childhood education, Theoretical viewpoint, Social constructivism, First-grade instruction, Students' perspectives


This investigation examined first-grade teachers' literacy beliefs and practices and its relationship with their students' conceptions about reading and writing. For the first part of the study a sample of 76 first-grade teachers, from two school districts in Puerto Rico, completed the Literacy Orientation Survey (LOS). The combined score of the LOS was calculated and used to categorize teachers according to their literacy beliefs and practices as constructivist, eclectic, or traditional. After matching by years of experience and educational level, a stratified random sample of six teachers, two from each literacy viewpoint (traditional, eclectic, and constructivist), and 48 first-grade students was selected to participate in the second part of the study.

A simple random sample of eight students (four low-achieving readers and four high-achieving readers) was selected from the classrooms of each of the six teachers, who represented the three differing literacy beliefs. Individual interviews were conducted with the students, using Wing's (1989) interview protocol, in order to assess their conceptions of reading and writing. The results of this study regarding the nature of teachers' literacy beliefs indicated that most teachers appear to hold traditional literacy beliefs and practices, whereas a very small number of the participant teachers seem to hold literacy beliefs and practices categorized as constructivist. A statistical significant association was found between teachers' literacy viewpoint and students' conceptions about reading and writing.

First-grade students whose teachers held a constructivist literacy viewpoint seemed to have more holistic conceptions of literacy, whereas students whose teachers held a traditional or an eclectic literacy viewpoint seemed to have more skills or test-based conceptions of reading and writing. Results indicate that first-grade students' ideas regarding the purposes and nature of reading and writing appear to be compatible with their teachers' literacy beliefs and practices. No significant relationship was found between students' conceptions of reading and writing and their reading ability. Implications for literacy teaching, learning, and further research are discussed.