Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Nathaniel Bryan


The purpose of this study was to determine whether teacher-selected informational texts or student-selected informational texts best contribute to literacy achievement and engagement for middle-level males and to examine middle-level males’ perception of the relationship between masculine performance and literacy practice. For the purposes of this study, literacy achievement was measured using pre-test/post-test comparison on an assessment which measured participants’ ability to determine the central idea of an informational text while engagement and the relationship between masculine expression and literacy achievement were analyzed using observational field notes and semi-structured focus group interviews. Over a nine-week period during the first nine-week academic quarter, students participated in reading workshops during which one group was allowed to choose their own informational texts for literacy practice while the other engaged in literacy practice using texts the teacher-researcher chose.

Data were collected from a pre-test and a post-test, observational field notes, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group. Using what the teacher-researcher proposes as a conceptual framework—a ‘pedagogy of hybrid masculinities’—which rejects categories of masculine expression, the results of the present study revealed no significance between teacher-selected or student-selected texts. Data collected from focus group interviews revealed boys’ layered and often-contradictory masculine performances that were at play in their literacy practice. In other words, throughout their literacy practice, boys negotiated the ways through which they performed their masculinity, directly contributing to the ways that they engaged with texts and interacted with others. The boys revealed the need for pedagogy which provides an individualized perception of success, the capacity for fluid masculine performances, and the visibility of counter-hegemonic practices. Study results guided the development of an action plan to communicate results with stakeholders, to provide professional development for teachers seeking to improve the literacy performance of middle-level males, and to conduct future research.