Boys, masculinity and reading: Exploring differences amongst male readers.

Laura Scholes (2011). Boys, masculinity and reading: Exploring differences amongst male readers. PhD Thesis, School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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s4088866_PhD_fiinalabstract.pdf s4088866_phd_finalabstract.pdf Click to show the corresponding preview/stream application/pdf 24.81KB 5
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Author Laura Scholes
Thesis Title Boys, masculinity and reading: Exploring differences amongst male readers.
School, Centre or Institute School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Robert Gilbert
Professor Peter Freebody
Total pages 236
Total colour pages 5
Total black and white pages 231
Subjects 13 Education
Abstract/Summary The purpose of this study was to explore how students interpreted their experiences reading with the aim of developing an empirically justified account of the apparent systematic underperformance of boys, compared to girls, on national and international reading benchmarks. Exploring the diverse nature of students’ interpretations of their reading experiences, this study moved beyond broad generalizations about boys and girls to consider complexities inherent in notions of masculinity and associated tensions. Specifically, this study examined and further developed understandings about the ways in which notions of masculinity were constructed among different groups of boys in school contexts and the influence of these differences on educational experiences, such as reading. From an understanding of literacy as sociocultural practice, reading was considered a concept defined by social and communication practices students engaged in their everyday lives. Implementing a mixed method approach this study involved a survey and follow up semi-structured interviews. Initially, a paper and pencil survey collected information from 297 students attending year 4 and year 5 in seven primary school contexts. The survey asked boys and girls about their attitudes, beliefs and enjoyment of a range of activities including reading. Additional information was also collected concerning each student’s reading level, reading frequency and the socioeconomic status of the participants’ school community. Analysis of the survey data identified six clusters of students who presented in a similar manner. Thirty-four students from six clusters then took part in follow up semi-structured interviews to substantiate and further develop survey findings. Findings were considered within a broad ecological framework. This conceptual framework provided a lens for developing understandings about the multiplicity and interconnected nature of contextual influences on boys’ experiences as readers. The study found that while more girls than boys indicated high reading achievement, high reading frequency and high levels of reading enjoyment, these differences were not as prominent as expected. For example, while there was a male majority in the lower achieving anti-reading cluster, which portrayed reading as “uncool” and “nerdy” this group made up only thirteen percent of the total male cohort. Significantly, boys were also well represented in the higher achieving, avidly reading groups. There were, however, noteworthy differences in attitudes toward the social aspects of reading, with some boys indicating significantly negative attitudes and some girls reporting considerably higher levels of enjoyment. Findings also indicated that some expressions of masculinity were interpreted as problematic for many boys in personal and potent ways, constraining their social experiences as readers. Furthermore, disadvantage was found to be a significant factor with some but not all students. That is, disadvantage was interpreted as an interactional influence compounding constraining reading experiences for some boys. Findings build upon and extend understandings about the role of masculinity in creating and constraining reading experiences for boys in school spaces. Interpretations indicated inflections in boys’ experiences as readers highlighting diversity and the need to make visible differences amongst boys. It is argued that the systematic underperformance of some boys, compared to some girls, is influenced by particular attitudes and actions that boys internalise through their everyday social interactions and it is these interactions that contribute enabling and constraining influences on reading attitudes, reading frequency and subsequently performance. Furthermore, findings indicated the need to facilitate educational policies and practices that consider broader social processes with recognition for “which boys” and “which girls” are underachieving in reading.
Keyword literacy
social practice
ecological frame
Additional Notes 144 150 154 159 162

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Created: Wed, 24 Aug 2011, 11:40:18 EST by Ms Laura Scholes on behalf of Library - Information Access Service