Skip to main content
Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Stephanie Kozak, Education

Investigating positive classroom literacy environments: Teacher knowledge, print exposure and planning for instruction

Date & time
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Reading for pleasure, also referred to as print exposure, is beneficial across the lifespan, however the journey from illiterate to literate is not straightforward. Research has shown that young readers benefit from expert instruction, and plentiful practice. Thus, elementary school teachers are tasked with satisfying these requirements. The upper elementary years are an especially interesting area of study because at the same time as students’ abilities increase, intrinsic motivation to read tends to decrease. Teachers are uniquely situated to (a) ensure that children become capable readers and (b) remain interested in reading throughout their childhood and beyond. Therefore, the goal of this dissertation was to establish how to optimally prepare teachers to help children make the transition from pre-reader to life-long reader. Study 1 investigated knowledge and ability to plan for instruction among 100 pre-service teachers before and after participating in a workshop that taught them about print exposure. In this study, two measures were created (definitions and vignettes) to assess pre-service teachers’ knowledge of literacy concepts related to print exposure and classroom practices related to reading. Two further ones were adapted (ART-CYA and an instructional planning task). The workshop was successful at both significantly increasing participants’ knowledge of print exposure, and this increase in knowledge was associated with more time allocated for students to read in the post-test instructional planning. Study 2 extended this work by implementing a similar workshop with in-service teachers. Here, 50 teachers completed the definitions and vignettes tasks, as well as instructional planning before and after participating in an online professional development workshop that taught them about the formal and informal literacy activities that are critical in positive classroom literacy environments. Teachers increased their scores on the definitions task significantly after participating in the workshop, and also designated more time to Activities that Promote Reading at post-test. The goal of this study was to establish the formal and informal components of positive classroom literacy environments The results are discussed within the context of teacher training, both prior to entering the field and continuously throughout the career.

Back to top

© Concordia University