Meagan Wagner

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries


To become better readers, students must read more and more, increasing the volume, complexity, and variety of books chosen. While independent reading is the best avenue by which to do this, many teachers still struggle to devote their limited instructional time to independent reading. Specifically addressing the context of my school, there was a clear distinction in gender and reading: boys were falling behind, less engaged, less motivated to read than girls. This research aimed to address the gender gap in reading by making independent reading a priority in the classroom. As a case study, five male eighth graders were studied with a focus on reading achievement, engagement, and motivation. Findings suggest prioritizing independent reading is beneficial for struggling readers: the individualized mini-lessons, read alouds, surveys, conferences, and student work all showed growth for the boys in reading achievement, engagement, and motivation.