A study of the relation between reading achievement and less-than-proficient urban adolescent readers' world view of reading

Gerardine Cannon, University of Rhode Island


This study examined the relationship between reading achievement and less-than-proficient urban adolescents' sociocultural, personal, and academic views of reading. Supported by the thinking of Lloyd-Smith and Tarr (2000) that “There is a role for educational research to demonstrate…the value of listening to children in…the promotion of school improvement” (p. 70), this study asked 91 young adolescents from an urban working class/poor community to share their thoughts, attitudes and beliefs about the reading process, themselves, and influences on their views of reading and their reading experiences. Thirteen students, including proficient and less-than-proficient readers, were selected to share their views on literacy in a semi-structured interview.

This blended quantitative-qualitative study used a standardized reading comprehension test, a researcher-developed questionnaire and interview protocol to gather data from students. Multiple regression analyses were carried out. The most compelling and illustrative statistic which emerged from these analyses was the squared semi partial correlation (sp2). This index of the relationship between and among variables revealed that for the Below Reading Grade Level sample, the strongest influence on the variance in reading achievement was knowledge of the reading process. Similar results were found when the sample was partitioned into two sub samples: Home language: English and Ethnicity: European American.

For the Highest Achievers sample and for the partitioned sub sets, Language at Home: English and Sex: Males and for the Below Reading Grade Level sub sample Sex:Female, sociocultural influences on students' views of reading and on their experiences with reading were the most important factors in explaining variance in reading achievement accounted for by the linear combination of the three independent variables. Data from student interviews in both high and low reading achievement groups supported these finding. They also provided a window into student thinking about reading.

Findings from this study suggest that there is a need for educators at all levels to listen to what students have to say about their literacy lives at home and at school and to make long-term fundamental commitments to creating and implementing an equitable literacy policy that will result in urban adolescents becoming proficient and critical readers and writers.

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Recommended Citation

Gerardine Cannon, "A study of the relation between reading achievement and less-than-proficient urban adolescent readers' world view of reading" (2002). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3053097.