Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Elizabeth Nowicki


This study investigated teachers' uses of research on the identification and instruction of students at risk for reading disabilities (RD). It identified obstacles to teachers' uses of RD research and methods to bridge RD research and teachers' practices. Two theoretical frameworks underpinned the study. The knowledge utilization framework consisted of eight stages of knowledge use (reception, search/find, cognition, reference, effort, adoption, implementation, and impact), and three categories of obstacles to knowledge use (supply, demand, and context). A critical perspective also informed the study's methods, analyses, and implications. A mixed methodology was employed by way of: (a) a pre-pilot study which tested the efficacy of the knowledge utilization framework; (b) a narrative synthesis of RD research; (c) a pilot study of an online questionnaire; (d) an online teacher questionnaire; and (e) focus groups. Ten Ontario elementary school teachers participated in the pre-pilot and pilot studies; 204 elementary school teachers completed the questionnaire and eight teachers took part in focus groups. Results revealed underutilization of RD research across the eight stages of knowledge use. Variables within the three categories of obstacles contributed to the underuse of RD research. Research/researcher and user variables correlated most strongly with research uses; user variables were most predictive. Specialized teachers reported greater research use than intermediate grade teachers. Methods to bridge RD research and practice related to research, researcher, dissemination and context factors. Insights which may lead to improved evidence-based reading instruction for those at risk for RD were achieved. Further study of research use across the curriculum and disciplines is proposed.