A Culturally Based Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching African American High School Students Skills in Literary Interpretation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigated the implications of signifying, a form of social discourse in the African-American community, as a scaffold for teaching skills in literary interpretation. This investigation is related to the larger question of the efficacy of culturally sensitive instruction. The major premise on which the hypotheses of this study are based is the proposal that African American adolescents who are skilled in signifying use certain strategies to process signifying dialogue. These strategies are comparable to those that expert readers use in order to construct inferences about figurative passages in narrative texts. In order to apply this premise, an instructional unit was designed aimed at helping students bring to a conscious level the strategies it is presumed they use tacitly in social discourse. This approach is offered as a model of cognitive apprenticing based on cultural foundations. Analyses are presented of how the cultural practice links to heuristic strategies that experts use in a specific domain, as well as how instructors modeled, coached, and scaffolded students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-631
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Volume30
StatePublished - 1995

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