Access to this thesis is limited to Boise State University students and employees or persons using Boise State University facilities.

Off-campus Boise State University users: To download Boise State University access-only theses/dissertations, please select the "Off-Campus Download" button and enter your Boise State username and password when prompted.

Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Sherry Dismuke, Ed.D.

Major Advisor

Jennifer L. Snow, Ph.D.


Roger Stewart, Ph.D.


Keith W. Thiede, Ph.D.


As students move from elementary to middle school, their reading motivation declines (Denaeghel et al., 2016). As students transition into adulthood, increased literacy proficiency manifests itself in enhanced social participation, and employment earnings (OECD, 2000a; OECD, 2000b). The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine whether giving students choice in what they read would increase their reading motivation, ability, and time spent reading. Data was collected from sixth grade students in a large northwestern middle school and included pre- and post-tests, surveys, and student interviews. Students were from four intact middle school classes taught by the researcher. The study took place over a six-week period from November through January. A mixed methods parallel convergent design was used to explore the following questions: (1) How does giving students choice in the books they read influence the amount they read? (2) How does giving students choice in the books they read influence their reading motivation? (3) How does giving students choice of what they read impact their achievement as defined by the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test? (4) What do the integrated quantitative and qualitative findings reveal about reading motivation?

Quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed separately, then consolidated and integrated. The quantitative data included pre- and post-test scores from the Gates MacGinitie Reading Test (GMRT), words read per minute, minutes read at home per week and some responses from the surveys. This data was analyzed using repeated measures ANOVAs and Chi squares. The qualitative data was gathered from the open-ended survey questions and semi-structured interviews with thirty-one students, held at the conclusion of the study. Qualitative data was analyzed using a priori codes, then recoded as new codes emerged from the data. The integration of all data indicated that motivation is more than the time students spend reading. There is an energy and excitement students feel when they are allowed to choose what they read, which is not necessarily present when their reading is assigned. Another major finding of this study was that the group who was provided the structured choice, choosing between three books, increased motivation beyond both the free choice and no choice groups. Findings from this study suggest at least two further studies. First, researchers should attempt to determine the optimal number of books students can choose from. Second, research should be conducted on the amount of in-class reading engagement. The implication for literacy teachers is a paradigm shift from a one-size fits all novel study to offering students choices in what they read, thus improving middle school students’ dwindling attitude about reading as they progress through the grades.