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The Impact of Peer Discussion Groups on the Recreational Reading of Seventh Grade Students

by Haring, Dana

Abstract (Summary)
Recreational reading is declining. The decline starts early in elementary school and rapidly accelerates during adolescence. Adolescent literacy is impacted on many fronts, including various factors in psychological, emotional, intellectual, academic, and social development. Because social factors and emotional factors are especially relevant in the study of adolescents and their recreational reading, these elements were integrated in this quasi-experimental research.

This study was designed to answer the following research question: if given the choice of what to read and time with peers to discuss their reading, will seventh grade students spend more time reading? The sample of 117 seventh grade students from three schools in Northwest Montana was divided into two groups of 54 and 63 students. Using a two-group, switching replications quasi-experimental design, the study lasted 14 weeks total with a 5 week intervention period for both groups at alternate periods during the study's duration. Students recorded the number of minutes they spent reading each day on weekly log sheets. During the intervention periods, the students had a 30 minute session each week in English class to discuss what they were reading in small group discussions. Unlike traditional literature circles, the discussions were not about one book read by multiple students. However, students did have 25 suggested open-ended discussion prompts to keep their groups focused.

The group (n=49) that experienced the discussion group intervention during weeks 3 through 7 of the study increased its weekly average of minutes spent reading from 101 minutes during week 1, the pretest, to 166 minutes during week 14, the posttest, a 62% increase (t=3.4; p=.0014). The group (n=31) that experienced the discussion group intervention during weeks 8 through 12 increased its weekly average of minutes spent reading from 193 minutes during week 1 to 262 minutes during week 14, a 36% increase (t=1.9; p=.07).

Discussion groups, used in concert with independent choices of reading materials and discussion prompts, led to increased reading time among most seventh grade students in the study. Concluding recommendations included implementing these three elements in English classes to increase and thus improve reading among adolescents.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Carolyn Lott

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:curriculum instruction

ISBN:

Date of Publication:03/29/2007

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