Master of Education Research Theses

Date of Successful Defense


Date Degree Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M.Ed.)




Timothy Heaton, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Thomas Sweigard, Ph.D.


adolescent, boys, literacy, urban, motivation, gender


This mixed-method study identifies influences on the literacy habits of adolescent boys. The study sought to answer the question: what factors influence adolescent boys to pursue or not pursue leisure reading? Leisure reading has been found to have a positive impact on academic success (Hughes-Hassell & Rodge, 2007) and boys tend to lag behind in engaging it (Smith & Wilhelm, 2004). A Likert scale survey was given to 137 students, boys and girls, from an upper-middle class, private Christian school in the Midwest. Questions focused on why students do or do not read and what could encourage them to increase their leisure reading frequency. An open-ended question at the end of the survey provided qualitative data. Informed consent was obtained from all participants and no compensation was given.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted in recent decades on increasing adolescent literacy, specifically for boys, but no definitive cure-alls have been found. Each study seems to result in a different, sometimes conflicting answer depending on its sample and focus.

This study also did not find definitive, easy answers to getting adolescent boys to read for pleasure more often. It confirmed some results in published literature including gender preferences for genres and boys needing a reason to read such as inquiry questions. This study contradicted other established ideas such as boys responding positively to technology as a gateway to increasing reading, needing male role models to encourage them to read, perceiving reading as a feminine activity, or believing they were less competent readers than girls.

However, the literature at large as well as the pertinent results of this study will be useful to local educators working with their unique student populations to increase adolescent male literacy.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Education Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.