Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Instructionally dense literacy practice in the middle grades: A qualitative study

Marissa A Jorgenson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This qualitative, practitioner inquiry examined how a group of novice and experienced middle-grade reading teachers integrated facets of instructional density (Pressley, Wharton-McDonald, & Mistretta-Hampston, 1997) into their practice. Instructional density is a descriptor of effective teaching whereby practitioners layer their instruction in individual lessons with other elements of the curriculum. This occurs in the planning of instruction as well as during dialogic exchanges with students that are the natural outcrop of instruction. The researcher’s role was to conduct a series of observations and post-observation reflections and provide coaching that helped participants generate understanding of instructional density and how it could be enacted. Through detailed vignettes, this study provides insights into (a) how instructional density is realized in the context of classroom teaching, (b) how differences in content knowledge inform the process of using instructional density, and (c) how practitioners negotiate meaning of instructional density through collaboration. The design of the study regarded professional collaboration as fundamental to improving practice. The descriptions herein are useful in considering how teachers learn to use their curriculum in new ways, ones that are more cohesive and efficient, and that acknowledge its interconnectedness.

Subject Area

Language arts|Middle School education

Recommended Citation

Jorgenson, Marissa A, "Instructionally dense literacy practice in the middle grades: A qualitative study" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10143743.