Cognitive Activation as an Aspect of Literature Instruction
Keywords:literature instruction, cognitive activation, video observations, teaching quality, lower secondary school
In this study, the concept cognitive activation is used to assess and discuss teaching quality in Swedish and Norwegian lower secondary literature instruction. Drawing on video data from 54 classrooms, it investigates the cognitive activation potential (CAP) of tasks and reading activities. It also investigates how and to what extent teachers, through their instructional support, increase or decrease the CAP of these tasks. The objective CAP of 280 tasks was estimated, ranging from low to high on a four-point scale. As tasks are not always carried out in the way teachers initially intended, the realised CAP of all the tasks was also estimated. In one third of all the sampled tasks, literary texts were read. During more active work with texts, the objective CAP was mostly of a medium-high level. However, students were seldom required to analyse, compare, and interpret literary texts. The realised CAP often remained unchanged by teachers’ instructional support. This suggests that there is room for teachers to improve and increase their interaction with students in ways that may enhance the latter’s literary competence. Implications for students’ learning and development of literary understanding are discussed.
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