Schrijvers, M., Janssen, T., Fialho, O., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2016). The impact of literature education on students' perceptions of self and others: Exploring personal and social learning experiences in relation to teacher approach. Contribution to a special issue on The Role of Writing in Literature Education, edited by Tanja Janssen and Irene Pieper.
L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 16
, p. 1-37. https://doi.org/10.17239/L1ESLL-2016.16.04.01
The Dutch Institute for Curriculum Development argues that literature education is important for broadening students’ personal, social and cultural horizons. Indeed, reading literary fiction may alter readers’ self- and social perceptions, but little is known about whether adolescents gain such personal and social insights reading in the secondary literature classroom, nor about how these perceived learning outcomes are related to their teachers’ approaches to various aspects of literature teaching. Thus, the aims of this study were to examine the impact of literature education on students’ self- and social perceptions and to explore relationships between students’ learning experiences and their teachers’ classroom practices.
Dutch students (N=297, grades 10-12) wrote a learner report about what they learned about themselves and other people through literature education, and completed a measure on familiarity with fiction. Their teachers (N=13) completed the Teachers’ Approaches to Literature Education Questionnaire (TALE-Q), which indicated more analytical-interpretative or personal-experiential approaches to three aspects of teaching. Students of teachers with distinct approaches to these aspects were grouped to compare their learning experiences.
Findings showed that nearly all students (99%) reported to have learned something about themselves and others through literature education, mainly personal characterizations of oneself and others, learning about oneself and others as literary readers, descriptions and evaluations of people’s behaviors, and lessons for life. In addition, teachers’ reports of more classroom interaction and student autonomy were related to students’ more frequent reports of personal and social insights, but this may also partly be explained by students being more familiar with fiction and having a more positive attitude toward literary reading. Implications for personal and social learning in the literature classroom are discussed.