Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Reading Education


Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Education


College of Education


Valarie Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Marjorie Madden, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Susan Browne, Ph.D.


reading engagement, sixth grade, middle school, reading instruction


Individualized reading instruction; Culturally relevant pedagogy


Language and Literacy Education


The purpose of this study was to investigate what happens to reading engagement and student confidence when targeted instruction and culturally responsive teaching is used in a middle school literacy classroom. Individual instruction in the areas of reading comprehension and fluency, as well as book clubs and literature circles, were used over a three-month period in an effort to motivate striving and reluctant readers and build confidence in their reading skills. Eleven sixth grade students participated in the study, and both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. Data was collected using a teacher's research journal, audio recordings, surveys, interviews, and student work samples. Patterns of reading volume, stamina, and student responses to targeted instruction were analyzed using triangulation methods and coding in order to determine common themes. Based on the findings of the study, students tended to be more motivated to read texts that included topics in which they had prior knowledge or otherwise interested them. Reading engagement also tended to increase surrounding social interactions with peers about shared texts. Increased reading engagement, as well as evident progress with fluency and reading comprehension skills, tended to cause student confidence in reading to increase as well. This study was conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, further research is needed during a more "typical" school year.