Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading
Literacy Research in the Next Millennium: From Paradigms to Pragmatism and Practicality
Deborah R. Dillon
David G. O'Brien
Elizabeth E. Heilman
In this essay we argue that literacy inquiry has often been less effective than it should be. Policy makers and self-proclaimed experts with narrow political agendas easily capture public attention by assaulting our inquiry with arguments grounded in the rhetoric of public accountability, scientific rigor, and the future of our children. While literacy researchers are often ignored or discredited in the broader arena of educational policy and the popular media, we remain internally divided by arguments over paradigms, method, and instructional approaches, and distracted by our desires for academic prestige. Within this embattled context, our best ethical visions and deepest social commitments have been lost. We recommend pragmatism as a restorative tonic for our field. Pragmatism, a practical philosophy and encompassing methodology motivated by the need to solve pressing problems, can deliver us from the mire of paradigm debates and offer a hopeful vision for the next millennium. We offer three dimensions for researchers to use in reexamining with whom they do research and under what circumstances; to reflect on how problems for inquiry are selected; and, to reconsider how research traditions and methodologies are defined and used in the conduct and consumption of research.
[This chapter is reprinted from Reading Research Quarterly, 35(1), 10–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.35.1.2]
Dillon, D.R., O'Brien, D.G., & Heilman, E.E. (2004).
Literacy Research in the Next Millennium: From Paradigms to Pragmatism and Practicality.
In R.B. Ruddell, & N.J. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading (pp. 1530-1556). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.