Students’ attitude towards poetry, the way(s) in which they read poetry and stages of poetry reading

Submitted by: Hans Das
Abstract: Although most L1-teachers in the Netherlands are convinced of the importance of poetry, little attention is paid to poetry in the literary classroom. A Dutch survey among 225 L1-teachers in secondary education (Vekobo project, s.d.) showed that a large majority are dissatisfied about the curriculum structure and the way they deal with differences between students.
This is hardly surprising, since poetry reading in secondary education still remains an underdeveloped field of research (Dymoke, Lambirth, & Wilson, 2013). In order to enhance poetry teaching, more research is needed into the students’ attitude towards, and the way(s) in which they read poetry.

This study addresses two research questions: what are the characteristics of students’ attitude toward poetry and how do these affect their reading strategies? And second: can we discern levels or stages of poetry reading? And if so: how many, and on the basis of which criteria?
The research connects to two studies which focused on reading prose. Janssen et al (2006) researched different reading activities applied by strong and weak readers of short stories and Witte et al (2012) described developmental levels for reading and understanding novels.

A study into the pedagogical content knowledge (pck) of expert poetry teachers, explored in focus groups, led to a first demarcation of four ability levels for both lower and upper secondary education and to sets of poems that connected to these levels.
In a second study the concepts, preferences and reading processes of students (N=38) were examined by means of interviews and think-aloud sessions. Based on these data, three types of poetry readers were distinguished for both lower and upper secondary students.
On the basis of the research on teachers’ pck and students’ reading practice we developed a survey to be completed by 4400 students from all over the Netherlands. The results (summer 2019) should provide insight into the existence of poetry reader types, as well as (developmental) stages of lyrical abilities – allowing for the design of (a) poetry learning line(s) in secondary education.

Dymoke, S., Lambirth, A., & Wilson, A. (Eds.). (2013). Making poetry matter: International research on poetry pedagogy. London: Bloomsbury.

Janssen, T., Braaksma, M & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2006). Literary reading activities of good and weak students: A think aloud study. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 21(1), 35-52

Vekobo project (s.d.). Legitimacy, status and practical problems of teaching poetry in secondary education in the Netherlands. Groningen: Teacher Education Centre RUG (to be published).

Witte, T., Rijlaarsdam, G., & Schram, D. (2012). An empirically grounded theory of literary development: Teachers' pedagogical content knowledge on literary development in upper secondary education. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 12, 1-30

research area:
poetry in secondary education

key words:
‘poetry education’, ‘literary development’, ‘reader profiles’, ‘focus groups’, ‘interviews and thinking aloud’