Figured Worlds Among Teachers Co-Teaching Classes with Respectively Strong and Poor Literacy-Development

Submitted by: Aslaug Fodstad Gourvennec
Abstract: Figured Worlds Among Teachers Co-Teaching Classes with Respectively Strong and Poor Reading Development

Previous research on the effect of increased teacher-student ratio (T-S ratio) on student learning has proven inconclusive (cf. Solheim, Rege & McTigue, 2017). One suggested explanation for small effects has been that teachers do not seem to optimize the opportunities presented by having fewer students (Hattie, 2005). In order to increase knowledge about the complex relation between teaching and students’ learning outcome when T-S ratio is increased, the present paper investigates the co-teaching teachers’ figured worlds (Gee, 2011) concerning the social practice of early literacy instruction. The study is based on interviews with teachers participating in a large randomized controlled trial (RCT): Two Teachers in the class (TT). The RCT investigates the effect of having two teachers (compared to one) in literacy instruction in L1 classrooms, for students’ reading development in 1st and 2nd grade (6–7 years old). The sample includes six co-teaching couples, understood as extreme cases. Three of the couples have taught classes that show strong reading development measured as growth in word level decoding and reading comprehension during 1st and 2nd grade. The three other couples have taught classes with poor reading development. The data consists of twelve in-depth interviews, one with each of the participating teachers, carried out in January-February 2019. Through a discourse analytical approach (Gee, 2011) to the pieces of language that the interviews constitute, I investigate which aspects of the participants, activities, setting(s) and resources the teachers render significant (Gee, 2011) within the social practice of early literacy instruction. The findings from the individual interviews are compared with those from the co-teacher’s interview. Subsequently, characteristics from each of the couples will be compared across the sample. Finally, I discuss possible implications of the findings for the composition of co-teaching couples.

Keywords: teachers’ figured worlds, early literacy instruction, co-teaching, teacher-student ratio


Gee, J. P. (2011). An introduction to discourse analysis: theory and method. London: Routledge.
Solheim, O. J., Rege, M., & McTigue, E. (2017). Study protocol: “Two Teachers”: A randomized controlled trial investigating individual and complementary effects of teacher-student ratio in literacy instruction and professional development for teachers. International Journal of Educational Research, 86, 122–130.
Hattie, J. (2005). The paradox of reducing class size and improving learning outcomes. International Journal of Educational Research 43, 387-425.