Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Wassell, Beth A.


Composition (Language arts); Literature--Study and teaching


Elementary Education and Teaching


This action research project looked at the effects on twenty-one fourth grade students' levels of comprehension, engagement, and writing when literature circles were implemented while reading the novel Jacob's Rescue, by Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin. The participants, twelve female and nine male, live in a lower-middle class suburban community. While reading this novel about a Jewish boy growing up during the Holocaust, students performed literature circles in combination with a balanced literacy program.

The effects on students were examined through student work samples, including role sheets, comprehension questions, subject integration and writer's workshop worksheets, self-evaluations and observational notes taken during instruction. The data was analyzed using codes that examined the degree of difficulty a student had completing the task, the effort he/she showed, and the level of accuracy he/she demonstrated, and then counting the occurrences of each code.

My findings support the research on literature circles, that implementation does positively impact the level of student comprehension. I did determine that the most difficult to determine effect was student engagement, so I would not consider my results conclusive. In the area of least research, as it relates to literature circles, I found that the students' writing had the most significant and apparent positive growth.