Instructional importance: What teachers value and what students learn

Tamara L. Jetton, Patricia A. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study examined the contextual factors that influence what students deem interesting and important by examining what teachers signal as interesting and important in their classroom discussions and assessments. Participants in this investigation were three high school science teachers and their students. We created portraits of these high school science teachers and their students as a way to describe the instructional value system that seemed to be operating in their classrooms. These value systems were evidenced by teacher interviews, text ratings, text recall performances, classroom discussions, and assessment questions. Results revealed that the valuing system within these three classrooms varied in noticeable ways. Students were differentially successful at ascertaining the instructional value system within their respective classrooms, as indicated by their discussion patterns and test questions. This variation among students seemed partially attributable to their teachers' content and pedagogical knowledge. At several instances when either form of knowledge was limited or not well utilized, the students were more at a loss in deciding what was instructionally important or in applying that understanding. We also found that the teachers' and students' determination of important content did not correspond well with the structurally important elements of the text (i.e., main ideas). Other similarities and differences between the value system of the teachers and their students' questions are discussed, along with implications for research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-308
Number of pages19
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


Dive into the research topics of 'Instructional importance: What teachers value and what students learn'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this