Literacy experiences of male students in an alternative high school: a phenomenological perspective


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case-study design was to explore the literacy experiences and perceptions of male students attending an alternative high school. A phenomenological approach was used to capture the essence of their literacy experiences. Ten male seniors in high school were each selected on the basis of purposeful sampling in which the student participants met specific criteria and were recommended for this study by their English teacher. Data sources included three in-depth interviews with each participant, as well as interviews with their Senior English teacher. Student records were also obtained from the school office, including the students’ transcripts and attendance information to triangulate the data; member checks and peer review were employed to verify the results. A thematic analysis resulted in the identification of the four core themes: a) preference for variety, interest, and balanced rigor resulting in a disconnect between in-school and out-of-school literacy experiences, b) the importance of family and social relationships, c) a sense of competency, and d) recommendation for an environment that provides choice with a relevant purpose, independence, and personalized instructional support. The data analysis in this study revealed a mismatch between students’ in-school and out-of- school literacy experiences. Several implications were discussed, including the need for a school wide focus on literacy tied in to on-going quality professional development.
College of Education and Human Development