by Jack Cassidy and Douglas J. Loveless
In the October/November 2011 issue of Reading Today
, we shared the results of our annual What’s Hot, What’s Not
survey. The 25 respondents (listed below) determined the eight most critical literacy topics in the current professional environment. IRA Members can login to read more about the hottest topics in the October/November issue of Reading Today
. (If you are not a member yet, join now
! Memberships start at only $29!)
In this article, we will delve into more of the methodology behind the survey.
How Topics Get Added to the List
Literacy seems to incorporate an ever shifting and expanding field. Since 1997 (Cassidy & Wenrich, 1997), Cassidy and others (e.g., Cassidy & Wenrich, 1998; Cassidy, 2002; Cassidy & Cassidy, 2004; Cassidy, Garrett, & Barrera, 2006; Cassidy & Cassidy, 2009; Cassidy, Valadez and Garrett, 2010; Cassidy, Valadez, Garrett, & Barrera, 2010) have portrayed this field by describing the attention of educators focused on various literacy topics. This examination is important and appropriate as the status of literacy education continues to change and many educators shift their focus to different areas within the field of literacy.
Selection of Literacy Topics
The examination of attention given to various literacy topics in 2012 was a three-step process. First, a current list of literacy topics was created with input from the literacy leaders participating in the 2011 survey. These literacy leaders determined the current list of topics by revising the previous year’s list. Thus, the literacy leaders examined the list of literacy topics for 2011 and amended it to reflect literacy education in 2012. They were asked to provide modifications, additions, and deletions to the 2011 list
Second, interviews with the literacy leaders were conducted in person or on the phone. The oral exchange between the interviewer and the respondents helped guarantee directions were understood and provided some qualitative insights into the thinking of those interviewed. The revised list of literacy topics guided the questioning of the 2012 respondents. Interviews began with the researcher reading a standard introductory paragraph explaining the purpose of the study and requesting that participants do not consider their own biases towards particular topics when discussing the amount of attention a topic currently receives.
The first question asked if topics were hot or not. Hot refers only to the amount of attention a particular topic receives, it does not reflect importance. This question was asked to understand the current state of affairs regarding literacy education and the interest garnered by various literacy topics. The second question asked if literacy topics should be hot or not. This question allowed literacy leaders to communicate their perspectives regarding each topic. This entire oral exchange between the interviewer and the respondents helped guarantee directions were understood and provided some qualitative insights into the thinking of those interviewed.
The final step involved analyzing and aggregating the literacy leaders’ responses. A literacy topic’s temperature reflects the consensus of literacy leaders concerning the amount of attention given to a particular topic. A label of extremely hot or extremely cold indicates that all literacy leaders were in agreement. At least 75% of the leaders were in agreement on very hot or very cold topics. More than 50% of the literacy leaders agreed on the amount of attention given to hot and cold topics.
Richard Allington, University of Tennessee
Donna Alvermann, University of Georgia
Diane Barone, University of Nevada
Heather Bell, Rosebank School, New Zealand
Karen Bromley, Binghamton University, SUNY, NY
William G. Brozo, George Mason University, VA
Carrice Cummins, Louisiana Technical University
Douglas Fisher, San Diego State University
Virginia Goatley, International Reading Association, DE
Joyce Hinman, Bismark Schools, ND
James V. Hoffman, University of Texas
Lori Jamison, Toronto, Canada
Barbara Kapinus, National Education Association, Washington, DC
Donald J. Leu, University of Connecticut
Marsha Lewis, Duplin Schools, North Carolina
Barbara A. Marinak, Mount St. Mary’s University, MD
Susan B. Neuman, University of Michigan
P. David Pearson, University of California at Berkley
Timothy Rasinski, Kent State University, Ohio
D. Ray Reutzel, Utah State University
Victoria J. Risko, Peabody College at, Vanderbilt University, TN
Misty Sailors, University of Texas-San Antonio
Timothy Shanahan, University of Illinois, Chicago
Dorothy Strickland, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Linda Young, Hans Herr Elementary School, PA
Some Final Words
The process described above has been followed for most of the years of this study. The “should be hot”/“should not be hot” question was added in 2000 after a reader suggested that question could be as valuable as the “hot”/”not hot” question. Always, all these involved in the study have stressed that the word “hot” is not synonymous with the word “important.” The results of these studies would be very different if respondents had been asked if the topic was “important.”
Cassidy, J. (2002). Literacy 2001: What is and what should be. In W.M. Linek, E.G. Sturtevant, J.R. Dugan, & P.E. Linder (Eds.), Celebrating the voices of literacy: 23rd yearbook of the College Reading Association (pp. 2–6). Readyville, TN: College Reading Association.
Cassidy, J., & Cassidy, D. (2004). Literacy trends and issues today: An on-going study. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 20(1), 11–28. doi:10.1080/10573560490242822
Cassidy, J., & Cassidy, D. (2005). What’s hot, what’s not for 2006. Reading Today, 23(3), 1, 8–9.
Cassidy, J., & Cassidy, D. (2009). What’s hot, what’s not for 2010. Reading Today, 27(3), 1, 8–9.
Cassidy, J., Garrett, S.D., & Barrera, E.S., IV. (2006). What’s hot in adolescent literacy: 1997–2006. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(1), 30–36. doi:10.1598/JAAL.50.1.4
Cassidy, J., & Wenrich, J. (1997). What’s hot and what’s not for 1997: A look at key topics in reading research and practice. Reading Today, 14(4), 34.
Cassidy, J., & Wenrich, J.K. (1998). Literacy research and practice: What’s hot, what’s not, and why. The Reading Teacher, 52(4), 402–406.
Cassidy, J., Valadez, C., & Garrett, S. (2010).A look at the five pillars and the cement that supports them. The Reading Teacher 63. 644-655.
Cassidy, J., Valadez C.M., Garrett, S.D., & Barrera, E.S., IV. (2010). Adolescent and adult literacy: What’s hot, what’s not. The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53(6), 448-456.
Jack Cassidy is a past president of the International Reading Association and an Executive Secretary of the Specialized Literacy Professionals IRA special interest group, firstname.lastname@example.org. Douglas J. Loveless is an assistant professor at James Madison University in Virginia, email@example.com.