Qualitative vs. ‘Scientific’ in Reading Investigations

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To the Editor:

Education professor Jill Kerper Mora’s letter "On Reading Research" (Sept. 22, 2004) aptly illustrates why the so-called “reading wars” of late must continue. She maintains that “a healthy diet of skepticism is in order” regarding scientific research on reading (as your headline says). But she goes on to suggest that unscientific qualitative studies are necessary to discover the “factors that promote high levels of reading achievement.”

Lacking in Ms. Mora’s remarks is any attention to the fact that findings of qualitative, as opposed to scientific, investigations about what is the most time-effective reading instruction available often are contradictory. Therefore, to be rational, reading teachers must make a forced choice between this conflicting advice.

Nonetheless, Ms. Mora urges reading teachers to join her and “challenge the notion of reading methods based on ‘scientific’ research.” It would be valuable to know, of course, what happens to students in her university courses who are courageous enough to rebuff her summons in this respect. Or are all these future teachers simply indoctrinated into Ms. Mora’s ideology without being allowed to demur?

Patrick Groff
Professor Emeritus of Education
San Diego State University
San Diego, Calif.

Vol. 24, Issue 06, Page 34

Published in Print: October 6, 2004, as Qualitative vs. ‘Scientific’ in Reading Investigations

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