Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Benerd School of Education

First Advisor

Rachel Hallquist

Second Advisor

Rachelle Kisst Hackett

First Committee Member

Suzanne Arnold


A literacy gap is a difference between a person’s ability to read for understanding and meaning-making and their anticipated ability to read for their grade level. A larger proportion of males are at least one or more years below grade level in reading ability compared to their female peers. This reading difference is called the gender literacy gap. Students over one year below grade level are at an increased risk of dropping out of high school and face the possibility of diminished lifetime earnings. Gender, low levels of motivation, low socio-economic status, low engagement, and school perceptions of literacy are risk factors present in the literature. Middle school male students did not recognize how they used literacy outside the classroom as they interacted with literacy differently outside and inside the classroom. Out of the classroom, male middle school students used digital platforms such as Google, YouTube, and WhatsApp to learn about topics of authentic or personal interest. Physical media, such as textbooks, were referenced inside the classroom to complete teacher-assigned tasks. Data showed a significant preference for peer support outside and inside the classroom. However, inside the classroom, when the textbooks proved unsatisfactory, the students reached out to the teacher for assistance. This misalignment between how students learn produces adverse outcomes for male middle school students.





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