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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the reading non-engagement of two grade six students during sustained silent reading Bryan, Gregory


The purpose of this study was to investigate notions of engagement and non-engagement within sustained silent reading (SSR) in a grade six classroom in a metropolitan city in one of Canada’s western provinces. The study explored what two students, identified by their teacher as non-engaged during SSR, had to say about SSR and reading. The study also identified factors that appeared to influence the children’s SSR non-engagement. The students were observed during SSR over seven-and-a-half weeks. Each child participated in seven semi-structured interviews with the researcher, for a total of two hours of semi-structured interviews each. Other data collection methods were employed. Amongst other things, the students were observed in other classroom contexts. The students also completed an attitude survey. The things the students said were categorised. Despite 17 categories, the top 3 categories accounted for almost half of all the things the students said. Almost one-fifth (18.01%) of ideas were social remarks. The next highest ranks were remarks classified as discussion of text content (16.33%) and strategy use (12.4%). These figures and other data suggested that, although the students often were non-engaged during SSR, they were engaged readers in some settings, at some times. Although much of the research literature describes readers as engaged or not, this study demonstrated that such a view may be too simplistic. Based upon a variety of data sources, 11 factors were identified that appeared to have contributed to the students’ non-engagement. These factors included the expectation of silence, as well as problematic perceptions of the purpose of SSR. Low motivation, limited perceptions of the usefulness of reading, and negative attitudes all seemed to contribute to the students’ non-engagement. Other contributing factors appeared related to the classroom structure; for instance, the classroom library housed only limited attractive text options. There was also a limited sense of a classroom literacy community. In light of these findings, the author suggests the need to reconsider the one-size-fits-all model of SSR. Suggestions are provided for ways that teachers might restructure classroom reading in order to increase the likelihood of student engagement.

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