A Descriptive Study Of The Individual And Group Responses Of Three Tenth-Grade Readers To Two Short Stories And Two Textbook Selections (Critical Reading)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Margaret J. Early


Literacy, Reading instruction

Subject Categories

Reading and Language


If teachers are to help students become truly literate readers, they must lead their students beyond literal comprehension to critical and flexible response to both literature and exposition, two types of text which students encounter in and out of the classroom. To achieve this, they need an understanding of how students do read and respond to these two types of text. This descriptive study compares three adolescents' responses--articulated thoughts and feelings evoked by a text during and following reading--to two short stories and two textbook selections. These readers' expectations and group discussion responses are also examined.

Three 10th-grade girls were interviewed to learn about their reading experiences and expectations. They responded to open-ended questions individually during and following their reading and also in group discussions. All response sessions were tape recorded and transcribed. Categories for describing responses, expectations, and group interaction were then identified or selected based on analysis of the transcriptions. All data were coded into the categories and examined by categories for similarities, differences, and patterns. Descriptions of each of the three participants' ongoing, post-reading, group, and post-discussion responses are presented, as are descriptions of text specific and general expectations.

The findings of the study grow out of these descriptions. Among the findings for the three readers are the following: (1) each girl had a preferred way of responding which was similar for both the short stories and the textbook selections, (2) both types of text were evaluated on the basis of expectations for reading and knowledge and beliefs about text content, (3) all participants were able to benefit from group discussions, although to different degrees, and (4) all three girls demonstrated meta-response, awareness and monitoring of their responses, and were sensitive to the response patterns of the other group members. Overall, the findings support a theory of response which accounts for reader, text, and reading situation, and which also includes critical responses during aesthetic and efferent reading. Questions for future research were identified on the basis of the findings.


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