An Analysis of the Reading Choices of Adolescents from Low-Income, Culturally Diverse, Urban Schools Using the SEM-R Framework

Date of Completion

January 2012


Education, Language and Literature|Education, Educational Psychology




This descriptive study examined the self-selected reading choices of 378 ethnically diverse adolescents attending low-income, urban middle schools to examine whether gender and achievement group differences existed in certain text features of their book choices. Using qualitative content analysis and quantitative analysis procedures, this study revealed several gender and achievement group differences were found. Students in this group selected realistic fiction books most frequently, followed by fantasy and nonfiction. Students also frequently selected books that belonged to a series. Chi-square tests for independence indicated a statistically significant relationship between gender and the genre of book selections as well as a significant association between student gender and the gender of the main character in books selected. A series of independent samples t tests were used to examine gender differences in the mean percentages of 12 text features, demonstrating statistically significant differences between girls and boys in five text features: Biography & Historical Fiction, Romance, Sports, Graphic Novel & Comic, and Poetry. A series of one-way between-groups analysis of variance were also conducted to explore the impact of achievement group on the mean percentage of book selections with these 12 features and Chi-square tests for independence were conducted to examine differences in genre selections. Statistically significant differences between achievement groups were found and a general decrease was noted in the percentage of realistic fiction selected as achievement increased. The results also showed Advanced Readers selected fewer books that belonged to a series and fewer graphic novels or comics than students from lower achieving groups. Student achievement and the text complexity of student' book selections were measured quantitatively and differences in these scores were analyzed to determine appropriate match between student and text. Struggling Readers read books that were significantly above their preassessed Lexile Reader Level, but students in all other achievement groups read books that were significantly below their preassessed levels. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed in the context of prior research and the current political climate of Common Core Reading Standards. ^