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The effect of text-to-self reading strategies on reading comprehension

Dissertation
Author: Cathy Arlene (Legg) Cutright
Abstract:
Middle-school male students currently face a disadvantage in reading comprehension compared to female students. Research suggests the problem is that more male students score below grade level in reading comprehension because they require more cognitive scaffolding. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of text-to-self reading instruction and to compare the comprehension achievement of male and female students in 6th-grade reading and language-arts classes using guided reading of text-to-self instruction and guided reading using novels. The foundation of this study was based on constructivist theories including Dewey's pragmatist philosophy, Piaget's developmental theory, and Vygotsky's theory of zone of proximal development. Research questions focused on differences in reading comprehension scores between male and female students, using guided reading with text-to-self reading connections, and using guided reading using novels. The study involved a quantitative methodology using a pretest-posttest, quasiexperimental design. Two-way factorial analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compute the differences between the means of the experimental and control group students. The 2 independent variables were reading strategies and gender. The dependent variable was the 6th-grade WESTEST reading scores (converted to z-scores), and the covariate was the 5th-grade WESTEST reading scores (also converted to z-scores). Results indicated that 6th-grade male and female students in the text-to-self reading program had higher levels of reading comprehension, however only the females' gains were statistically significant suggesting that the problem of male literacy achievement is multifaceted. This study offers implications for positive social change by offering 1 strategy for parents, teachers, and policymakers to cognitively scaffold student reading comprehension while also offering a step toward better understanding male literacy underachievement.

iii TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES..........................................................................................................v LIST OF FIGURES........................................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY........................................................1 Problem Statement..........................................................................................................4 Nature of the Study................. ........................................................................................6 Research Questions.........................................................................................................7 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................9 Theoretical Framework................................................................................................. 10 Definitions....................................................................................................................12 Assumptions..................................................................................................................14 Limitations....................................................................................................................14 Scope.............................................. ..............................................................................15 Delimitations.................................................................................................................15 Significance of the Study...............................................................................................16 Summary............................................................................................................ ...........18 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW........................................................................21 Introduction...................................................................................................................21 Theoretical Philosophies....................................................................................23 Gender Equity for Adolescent Male Students.....................................................31 Literacy Learning for Adolescent Males....................................................... .................45 Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension...........................................................52 Summary of Brain-Based Learning................................................................................62 Conclusion....................................................................................................................72 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHOD..........................................................................77 Introduction............................................ .......................................................................77 Research Design and Approach.....................................................................................77 Setting and Sample........................................................................................................81 Experimental Group: School X......................................................................................85 Control Group: School Y.............................................. .................................................88 Instrumentation and Materials.......................................................................................88 Reliability.....................................................................................................................90 Validity.........................................................................................................................92 Threats to Internal and External Validity.................. .....................................................93 Role of the Researcher...................................................................................................94 Data Collection and Analysis.........................................................................................94 Participants Rights and Ethical Considerations............................................................100

iv Summary.....................................................................................................................101 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS.............................................................................................103 Introduction.................................................................................................................103 Details of Treatment..................................................................... ...............................103 Assumptions of ANCOVA..............................................................................106 Research Findings.......................................................................................................109 Analysis of Hypothesis for Research Question 1..............................................109 Analysis of Hypothesis for Research Question 2..............................................111 Analysis of Hypothesis for Research Question 3..............................................112 Analysis of Hypothesis for Research Question 4...................................... ........114 Analysis of Hypothesis for Research Question 5..............................................115 Summary of Findings..................................................................................................116 Conclusion..................................................................................................................118 CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS............120 Summary of Findings..................................................................................................120 Question 1............ ...........................................................................................120 Question 2.......................................................................................................121 Question 3.......................................................................................................122 Question 4................................................................................................. ......122 Question 5.......................................................................................................123 Study Placement in the Research.................................................................................124 Implications for Social Change....................................................................................125 Recommendations for Action......................................................................................126 Recommendations for Further Study.............................. .............................................131 Summary.....................................................................................................................133 REFERENCES............................................................................................................136 APPENDIX A: PERMISSION TO USE FIGURE OF BRAIN....................................151 APPENDIX B: REQUEST FOR PERMISSION TO USE DATA................................152 CURRICULUM VITAE.................................................... ..........................................155

v LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Diagram of Pretest–Posttest, Nonequivalent Control Group Design with Two Experimental and Control Groups..........................................................................82 Table 2 Diagram of Performance Level Results for WESTEST in Reading/Language Arts.......................................................................................................................90 Table 3 Number of Participants in the Study Sample by Gender and Program............106 Table 4 Means and Standard Deviations of Fifth Grade Students by Gender...............109 Table 5 Means and Standard Deviations of Fifth Grade Students by Reading Program109 Table 6 Text-to-Self and Control Group Means and Standard Deviations and F test for Sixth-Grade....................................................................................................110 Table 7 Male Students’ Text-to-Self and Control Group Means and Standard Deviations and F Test for the ANCOVA............................................................. .112 Table 8 Female Students’ Text-to-Self and Control Group Means and Standard Deviations and F Test for the ANCOVA..............................................................113 Table 9 Female and Male Students’ Text-to Self Group Means and Standard Deviations and F Test for the ANCOVA..............................................................115 Table 10 Female and Male Students’ Control Group Means and Standard Deviations and F Test for the ANCOVA...............................................................................116 Table 11 Results of Hypotheses..................................................................................118

vi LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. From LETRS module 1: The challenge of learning to read.............................65 Figure 2. Histograms for fifth-grade and sixth-grade students......................................107 Figure 3. Scatter plot using fifth-grade and sixth-grade z-scores..................................108

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY With increasing educational reforms, literacy and reading instruction in the middle grades, 6 through 8, have recently become the focus of educators and researchers. According to Biancarosa and Snow (2006), most research studies have focused on early intervention in kindergarten through fifth grade. Literacy achievement is the most important component for children’s success in school (Salinger, 2003; Slavin, Chamberlain, & Daniels, 2007; Xue & Miesels, 2004). Literacy practices usually consist of five components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension (Tolman, 2005). Researchers have emphasized the importance of learning to read in the elementary grades (Allington, 2002; Hettleman, 2003; Slavin, Karweit, & Wasik, 1993; Tolman; Xue & Miesels). Xue and Miesels stated that children who have difficulty learning to read and who are reading below grade level may need specialized educational intervention with phonics or balanced literacy, a guided reading approach in the early grades that will lead to future school success. The consequences of reading failure in the early grades may be detrimental to achieving success in middle school. Disadvantaged third-grade students in a longitudinal study who were reading below the expected grade level and failed more than one grade were “extremely unlikely to complete high school” (Slavin et al., 1993, p. 11). Salinger (2003) noted that “struggling readers in middle school may need systematic, explicit instruction as much as students in earlier grades, and often, they simply do not receive the instruction they need” (p. 81). Hettleman (2003) cited that “our nation’s failure to diagnose and treat early

2 reading difficulties disproportionately harms poor and minority students” (p. 3). Slavin et. al. (1993) stated that “reform is needed at all levels of education, but no goal of reform is as important as seeing all children start off their careers with success, confidence, and a firm foundation in reading” (p. 11). The number of middle-school students who lack literacy skills is not inconsequential. According to the International Reading Association (2007), “every school day in the United States for the past decade, more than 3,000 students dropped out of high school” (p. 1). Most of these students dropped out due to inadequate literacy skills. They did not have the reading capability to decode their textbooks and they could not comprehend the content (Allington, 1994; Kamil, 2003). More than 6 million U.S. students in grades 6–8 are struggling with reading. Kamil stated that “one in four adolescents cannot read well enough to identify the main idea in a passage or to understand informational text” (p. 1). The International Reading Association reported that high school students require targeted literacy instruction in order to meet the demands of college and the work force. It also reported that reading scores have improved for students in fourth and eighth grades. It further stated that “many student groups made gains in both grades; however, these gains were not always accompanied by significant closing of racial/ethnic and gender gaps” (p. 1). Male students lag significantly behind female students in literacy, generally score lower on tests, and have greater difficulty with reading comprehension than female students (Weaver-Hightower, 2003). Several researchers, Goldberg and Roswell (2002), Gurian and Stevens (2004), and D. Taylor and Lormier (2003), found that male students have scored significantly below female students in reading in grades 4, 8, and 12. King and Gurian (2006) stated that boys are struggling

3 in school, with lower grades, more discipline problems, more learning disabilities, and more difficulties with behavior than girls. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 has exerted an increasing influence on educational practice in schools to meet standards in reading/literacy. Paramount to this legislation is the identification of schools that are “failing to meet achievement goals and to label them as schools in need of improvement. The linchpin of that identification and labeling process is accountability” in testing students (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209). To meet these goals, teachers may need to understand how to teach literacy in middle school in order to close the achievement gap between low- performing students and students reading at or above grade level. High-stakes testing is a result of the NCLB Act. Testing starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. Gender inequity has been documented for some time, and the current culture of high- stakes testing appears to have ignited wider attention and the demand for instructional intervention for male students (Goldberg & Roswell, 2002). According to Katsiyannis, Zhang, Ryan, and Jones (2007) asserted: Under NCLB Act, states are mandated to establish rigorous educational performance standards in reading, mathematics, and eventually science. States must develop or adopt tests to assess student performance and demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward 100% proficiency by 2013–2014. (p. 160) Primont (2006) noted that “the NCLB Act requires that schools make ‘annual yearly progress’ in raising student achievement, or face possible sanctions” (p. 1). The data have shown a gap between male and female students between Grades 3 and 8 (Goldberg & Roswell, 2002). D. Taylor and Lormier (2003) maintained that there is a disparity between male and female students’ achievement scores and advanced-course

4 enrollments. There is an alarming trend of placing male students in special-education classes. According to the State Report Card (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007), 75% of male students in this district scored “proficient” in reading on the WESTEST, the state NCLB Act assessment, during the 2007–2008 school year; 85% of the female students in this district scored “proficient” in reading for the same school year. Problem Statement More male students than female students have lower scores in reading achievement as measured by the WESTEST, conducted in the mid–Atlantic district during the 2007–2008 school year (State Department of Education, 2008d). This study explored the impact of text-to-self reading-connection instruction to measure reading comprehension. This research compared reading comprehension scores between male and female students who used the text-to-self-reading strategies in guided reading and those who did not. The primary goal was to investigate the impact of text-to-self reading strategies on reading comprehension between middle-school male and female students. Text-to-self-reading strategies help students make connections with texts based on their own experiences, thus making connections with their own lives (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000), and make personal connections that aid in the activation of prior knowledge and meaningful frameworks in order to comprehend texts (Levin & Presley, 1981; Ryan & Anstey, 2003; Tovani, 2000). There were two independent variables. The first independent variable was the two different reading strategies, text-to-self reading and reading with novels. The second independent variable was gender. The dependent

5 variable was the WESTEST scores. The fifth-grade WESTEST was a different test. Therefore, both WESTEST scale scores were converted into z-scores. Educators must try to eliminate the achievement gap in literacy between male and female students in middle school. Compared to female students, middle-school male students face a disadvantage in the educational system with reading comprehension (Goldberg & Roswell, 2002). Gurian and Stevens (2004) observed that, since the Department of Education began recording statistics, it has noted that “males lag behind females in most categories” (p. 23). Literacy is often identified as an area of disadvantage for male students (Weaver-Hightower, 2003). According to Slavin, Cheung, Groff, and Lake (2008), “the secondary years provide a last chance for many students to build sufficient reading skills to succeed in their demanding courses” (p. 290). Recent studies have shown that teachers need to alter teaching strategies to better suit males’ learning styles in order to deal with gaps in reading and writing (Goldberg & Roswell; King & Gurian, 2006). Goldberg and Roswell stated that male students have a consistent gap between performance and reading proficiency in the United States. They advised that the gap between male and female students widens from third grade to eighth grade. This study adds to the body of knowledge for educators and instructional leaders who must meet the needs of all students with gender equity, comprehension strategies for male students, and understanding the impact of the differences in the male and female brains in middle-school literacy. Text-to-self reading connection strategies used in this study add to the existing literature that addresses the gap in research in the area of creating meaningful experiences for students, especially in reading comprehension for male and female students.

6 Nature of the Study I conducted a quantitative study to determine if text-to-self reading strategies in guided reading would increase student achievement in male students’ reading comprehension. Wiersma and Jurs (2005) defined an experimental study as “a research situation in which at least one independent variable, called the experimental variable, is deliberately manipulated or varied by the researcher” (p. 99). This study investigated the differences between students who have guided reading with text-to-self reading strategies and guided reading with reading instruction using novels. Participants were measured before and after receiving experimental treatments. According to Wiersma and Jurs, quasiexperimental research involves using “an experimental variable with intact groups, or at least with groups that have not been found through random selection or random assignment; single subjects, not randomly selected, may also be involved” (p. 491). The research design and hypotheses are presented in detail in chapter 3. This research study was conducted in two rural middle schools in a district in the mid-Atlantic region with a population of 302 students in School X and 573 in School Y. I used analysis of covariance to answer the research questions, and the pretest (fifth-grade WESTEST) was used as the covariate. A two-way ANCOVA controlled for scores on the covariate (pretest WESTEST score) and then performed a normal two-way ANOVA to determine if there was a significant main effect for the first independent variable (group), a significant main effect for the second independent variable (gender), or a significant interaction between the two independent variables (Wiersma & Jurs, 2005). A factorial design was used with two independent variables, each with two levels. Wiersma and Jurs cited that the “factorial design provides the economy of a single design rather than

7 separate designs for each of the independent variables, and it allows the researcher to investigate the interaction between the variables” (p. 116). This statistical analysis provided information on interaction effects and differences in the means of the two groups. The state WESTEST was administered at the end of the school year. This study used end-of-year fifth-grade results for 2007-2008, and end-of-year sixth-grade results 2008–2009. Research Questions Question 1. Is there a statistically significant group mean difference in reading- comprehension posttest scores between students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading-connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading (2002) basal series and students who use the guided-reading approach using novels? Null Hypothesis 1. There is no statistically significant group mean difference in reading-comprehension posttest scores between students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading basal series and students who use the guided-reading approach using novels. Question 2. Is there a statistically significant group mean difference in reading- comprehension posttest scores, between male students who participate in the use of text- to-self reading connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading basal series and male students who use the guided approach using novels? Null Hypothesis 2. There is no statistically significant group mean difference in reading-comprehension posttest scores between male students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell

8 Reading basal series and male students who use the guided reading approach using novels. Question 3. Is there a statistically significant group mean difference in reading- comprehension posttest scores between female students who participate in the use of text- to-self reading connection strategies in the guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading basal series and female students who use the guided-reading approach using novels? Null Hypothesis 3. There is no statistically significant group mean difference in reading-comprehension posttest scores between female students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading connection strategies in the guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading (2002) basal series and female students who use the guided- reading approach using novels. Question 4. Is there a statistically significant group mean difference in reading- comprehension posttest scores between male and female students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading (2002) basal series? Null Hypothesis 4. There is no statistically significant group mean difference in reading-comprehension posttest scores between male and female students who participate in the use of text-to-self reading connection strategies in guided reading using the McDougal Littell Reading (2002) basal series. Question 5. Is there a statistically significant group mean difference in reading- comprehension posttest scores between male and female students who use the guided- reading approach using novels?

9 Null Hypothesis 5. There is no statistically significant group mean difference in reading-comprehension posttest scores between male and female students who use the guided-reading approach using novels. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of text-to-self reading instruction and to measure comprehension achievement (scores) of male students in sixth-grade reading and language-arts classes with and without text-to-self reading instruction. According to Harvey and Goudvis (2000), the text-to-self reading instruction helps “good readers make connections between the texts they read and their own lives” (p. 3). When students activate prior knowledge with reading connections and experiences, they are able to mediate meaningful frameworks in order to comprehend texts (Harvey & Goudvis; Levin & Presley, 1981; Ryan & Anstey, 2003; Tovani, 2000). According to Tovani, “understanding how meaning is constructed from print is essential if teachers are to improve the comprehension of their students” (p. 17). This quantitative research study evaluated the effectiveness of text-to-self reading strategies used by middle-school students in an experimental group on their reading comprehension scores. Text-to-self reading connections were taught directly in two classrooms in conjunction with the McDougal Littell Reading (2002) basal series. Their scores were compared to students in a control group who were taught directly in two classrooms using a balanced-literacy approach with guided reading, self-selected reading, and vocabulary development with the reading of novels. The scores of both male and female students were compared for the two groups. Students in both the experimental and

10 the control groups received one 90-minute block of instruction in reading and language arts, as well as one extra 45-minute “flex” class of reinforcement in reading and written language. Choosing the best method of teaching reading improves reading comprehension for adolescent students. Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework for this study was Dewey’s progressive-education theory that reflected his philosophy of pragmatism and experiential learning. This theory holds that children “learn by doing” and by using problem-solving methods (Thanasoulas, 2009). Dewey saw the classroom as a miniature society and learning as integrated into real-life experiences. At the center of the learning process was motivation, as well as a focus on the needs and interests of the child and their natural curiosity (Webb, 2006). Dewey proposed that children be given the opportunity for creative self- expression and that their interests be considered in the learning process (Webb, 2006). This theory applies to the present study showing the improvement of reading comprehension through the use of text-to-self

strategies. Text-to-self reading-connection strategies helped the student connect the text to prior knowledge and experiences in order to make sense of the world (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000; Ryan & Anstey, 2003). As a constructivist, Dewey detested the uniformity of curriculum, the massing of students, and rigid guidelines of education in 1894. His philosophy was to develop the full potential of each student, and he devised a different approach to learning that encouraged learning to be self-motivating and child-centered. According to Rippa (1997), Dewey developed a viable alternative that “gave children the freedom to develop and

11 understand themselves in the context of the world around them; a practical education based on experience, participation and hands-on-exercises” (p. 165). Thus, Dewey focused on making sense of students’ lived experiences. Rippa explained the significance of the lived experiences: No longer would children be forced to memorize information that had no practical meaning to them. Instead, they would be encouraged to investigate, experiment, and discover those things that sparked their interests. They would be given the opportunity to reach their own conclusions when participating in experiments that had a direct correlation to the world around them. (p. 165) The theoretical framework for the present study was also built on Vygotsky’s (1978) constructivist theory. In the sociocultural theory of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), Vygotsky introduced the concept of learning as occurring through social interactions with peers and adults (Hawkins, 2004). Vygotsky defined the ZPD as “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86). Learning is mediated through the “sense we make of the world by using intellectual tools that in turn profoundly influence the kind of sense we make” (Reed & Johnson, 2000, p. 264). This study was also built on the theoretical framework of Piaget (1896–1980). Piaget’s constructivist approach was based upon the concept that children form conceptual categories of developmental stages of human development (Piaget, 1965). Piaget was a Swiss biologist who theorized about developmental thinking (R. Campbell, 2001). Children learn through the schema that describes cognitive development as the gradual acquisition of knowledge through experience (Reed & Johnson, 2000).

12 Thanasoulas (2009) found that “children go through stages in which they accept ideas they later discard as wrong. Understanding, therefore, is built up step by step through active participation and involvement” (p.1). Definitions Adequate yearly progress (AYP). Under NCLB, public schools must meet academic standards in academic achievement and must meet proficiency with AYP in reading and mathematics (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209). Brain-based learning. Learning is based on the structures of the four lobes of the brain: the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes (Jensen, 2000). Comprehension. The ability for students to understand what they have read at “a deep level” (Tolman, 2005, p. 21). Comprehension is the ability to understand written text (Tannenbaum, Torgesen, & Wagner, 2006, p. 381). Constructivist. The active manner in which students construct knowledge through a process of reflection (Kinsella, 2006). The term also refers to “the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves—each learner individually and socially constructs meaning” (Hein, 1991, p. 1). Flex time. An extra 45-minute class is devoted to extra assistance in reading comprehension and written language. Students can also receive assistance in other content area such as mathematics, science, and social studies. Gender equity. Both genders have an equal opportunity (Weaver-Hightower, 2003).

13 Guided reading. Small, flexible group instruction according to instructional level. Guided reading focuses on strategies used before, during, and after reading. Minilessons on explicit decoding and comprehension skills are provided during guided reading. Guided writing. Guided writing includes the use of minilessons with opportunities for flexible grouping (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001, p. 13). Literacy. Being facile in reading and written language (Cunningham & Allington, 2007). Literacy coaching. A form of highly targeted staff development for improving reading skills (International Reading Association, 2007). McDougal Littell Reading. According to McDougal Littell (2002) the reading series consists of the following reciprocal strategies: Questioning, Summarizing, Clarifying, and Predicting. No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The NCLB Act is a federal law with the purpose of improving the performance of elementary and secondary schools by increasing standards of accountability, requiring every state to “test students in grades 3 through 8 annually in reading and mathematics” (Brimley & Garfield, 2008, p. 209). The NCLB Act also requires states to have highly qualified teachers (Brimley & Garfield, p. 209). Reading gap. Describes the difference between the target level of reading proficiency, which should be possible for students to achieve, and the actual level of reading proficiency (McDougal Littell, 2002). Text-to-self reading strategies. Active reading strategies are used to promote critical reading skills. Often the strategy involves previewing texts and making personal

14 connections in order to construct meaning. These strategies focus on the student’s prior knowledge and experiences (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000; Ryan & Anstey, 2003; Tovani, 2000). Zone of proximal development. Vygotsky’s (1978) ZPD is defined as “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, p. 86). Assumptions I assumed that the fifth and sixth grade students in the present study were representative of all students in this district, but were not necessarily representative of students in other districts or states. Another assumption was that students took the WESTEST under normal testing conditions and performed to the best of their abilities. I assumed that teachers with more experience and training in the teaching of reading would observe their students experiencing higher reading comprehension scores. It was assumed that teachers may need coaching in instructional strategies to improve competency in adolescent literacy (Steurtevant & Linek, 2007, p. 240). Limitations Different teaching styles and training may interfere with the validity of reading- achievement scores. The attitudes of teachers and students were limited by motivational factors and may have impacted student achievement in reading/literacy. The research and effectiveness of teaching methods are limited to reflect the opinions and attitudes of the teachers conducting the instruction and their level of teaching expertise. This research

15 was limited by the qualifications of teachers and their level of experience and may be varied from school to school. This research study was limited to ability levels of those students in the study. According to Morrow, Gambrell, and Pressley (2003), researchers must carefully consider “influences such as context, motivation, teaching methods, social interaction, and student interactions” (p. 1). Despite the limitations of this study, the results provide educators, instructional leaders, and policymakers with targeted literacy strategies to ensure that students become proficient readers. The findings of this study are applicable to the population of students in a mid-Atlantic district because the two selected schools were similar in size and demographics. Scope The study analyzed data using a pretest and posttest of the WESTEST. The implications of the findings of this study should promote change in teaching methods for adolescent male students in literacy and brain-based learning, and their impact on middle- school literacy. As a result of this research study, the district staff should be able to develop research-based practices in order to eliminate the reading-achievement gap for adolescent male students in literacy. Delimitations The specific parameters of this research study were limited to four language-arts classes in two middle schools in a mid-Atlantic school district. In School X, there were two heterogeneously grouped language-arts classes (experimental group) using text-to- self reading connections and guided reading, in the McDougal Littell reading basal series. In School Y, there were two heterogeneously grouped language-arts classes with guided

Full document contains 168 pages
Abstract: Middle-school male students currently face a disadvantage in reading comprehension compared to female students. Research suggests the problem is that more male students score below grade level in reading comprehension because they require more cognitive scaffolding. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of text-to-self reading instruction and to compare the comprehension achievement of male and female students in 6th-grade reading and language-arts classes using guided reading of text-to-self instruction and guided reading using novels. The foundation of this study was based on constructivist theories including Dewey's pragmatist philosophy, Piaget's developmental theory, and Vygotsky's theory of zone of proximal development. Research questions focused on differences in reading comprehension scores between male and female students, using guided reading with text-to-self reading connections, and using guided reading using novels. The study involved a quantitative methodology using a pretest-posttest, quasiexperimental design. Two-way factorial analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compute the differences between the means of the experimental and control group students. The 2 independent variables were reading strategies and gender. The dependent variable was the 6th-grade WESTEST reading scores (converted to z-scores), and the covariate was the 5th-grade WESTEST reading scores (also converted to z-scores). Results indicated that 6th-grade male and female students in the text-to-self reading program had higher levels of reading comprehension, however only the females' gains were statistically significant suggesting that the problem of male literacy achievement is multifaceted. This study offers implications for positive social change by offering 1 strategy for parents, teachers, and policymakers to cognitively scaffold student reading comprehension while also offering a step toward better understanding male literacy underachievement.