Remembering a Common Legacy

Published Categorized as Memory

It has been extremely difficult for me to match specific works of mine with specific works of David’s (I have attached a few), not because he has had a limited impact on my work but because from his earliest publications and talks his work has had such a deep impact on the field, and therefore on me, that much of it has reshaped how we think about such issues as comprehension, instruction and assessment.

I met David in 1976, at NRC/LRA. I was two years away from completing my doctorate and he had already made his mark. It was the time of the cognitive revolution and constructivism, when cross-disciplinary collaborations opened minds, made the groundbreaking Center for the Study of Reading possible and issues of language and thought the nexus of our concerns.  He welcomed me to his band of young Turks who didn’t always agree, but who pushed each other and the field along. I think of them as my quasi-German-intellectual beer garden (and Merry Pranksters) days. My own early work on prior knowledge and on reading and writing development, connections and differences and also my work on comprehension and testing were very much beneficiaries of David’s work and the open exchange of ideas that LRA carries on today.

By the mid-1988, with the funding of the Center on Literature Teaching & Learning followed by the Center for English Learning & Achievement, my work took a slightly different focus than David’s. But it was no surprise to me that in late 1996–2000 I conducted a multi-year study on students and schools that Beat the Odds at just about the same time as he and Barbara Taylor did – unknown and unplanned. It was no real surprise though, and I think the findings support each other’s.

The essential intellectual concerns and base we shared keep us connected.  I have always considered David a truly close colleague and good friend and thank him for taking me in so long ago.


Close, E.A., Hull, M. & Langer, J.A. (2005). Writing and reading relationships in literacy learning.  In (Indrisano, R. & Paratore, J.R.  Learning to Write/Writing to Learn: Theory and Research in Practice.  Newark, DE: International Reading Association.  176-194.

Langer, J.A. (2001).  Beating the odds: Teaching middle and high school students to read and write well.  American Educational Research Journal.38, 4, 837-880.

Langer, J.A. ( 2000). Excellence in English in Middle and High School: How teachers’ professional lives support student achievement.  American Educational Research Journal . 37, 2, 397-439.

Langer, J.A. & Flihan, S. (2000).  Writing and reading relationships: Constructive tasks.

Langer, J.A. (1987). The Construction of meaning and the assessment of  comprehension: An Analysis of Reader Performance on  Standardized Test Items, in R. Freedle (Ed.) Cognitive and linguistic analyses of standardized test performance, Norwood,  New Jersey: Ablex.

Langer, J.A. (1986). Children Reading and Writing:  Structures and  Strategies.  Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Langer, J.A. (1985). Levels of questioning: An alternative view, Reading Research Quarterly20, 5, 586-602.

Langer, J.A.  (1984). Examining background knowledge and text  comprehension, Reading Research Quarterly, 14, 4, 468_481.

Langer, J.A. (1981).  The effects of available information on responses to school writing tasks. Research in the Teaching of English, 18, 1, 27-44.

Langer, J.A. (1981).  From theory to practice: A pre-reading plan,  Journal of Reading, 25, 2, 152-156.

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