This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Academic Reading Attitudes and Performance as a Function of Gender




Cook, Robert

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Childhood reading levels are important predictors of later childhood academic success. A child’s reading ability and reading attitude is a strong indicator of future academic success and lifelong reading (Kush & Watkins, 1996; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). There is a strong correlation between a child’s reading attitude and their actual reading ability (Cunningham, 2008). Closing the gaps in reading between certain demographics has been a key focus for educational leaders, both locally and nationally for years. In this study, the reading gap focus is between genders. Females have consistently outperformed males in reading from before kindergarten (McClelland, Morrison, & Holmes, 2000) until graduation. Female children have higher reading levels and far greater learning style scores than boys when they enter schools (McClelland, Morrison, & Holmes, 2000). Males fall further behind their female schoolmates as each year progresses. A study by Madhabi Chatterji (2006) at Columbia University found that males were behind females when they entered kindergarten by -0.168 Standard Deviation (SD) units. At the end of first grade, the gap had grown to -0.313 SD units. These numbers were determined after controlling for poverty and ethnicity (Chatterji, 2006). Educational leaders need to foster a climate of reading acceptance at school. Some ways to accomplish this is to provide a learning environment filled with reading role models. Posters depicting popular students, parents, community members reading books should be placed in schools. Communications with the student body should contain references to reading. Schools iii should include opportunities for students to participate in clubs or activities that provide a positive reading climate. Schools should maintain large quantities of reading materials that include all student reading levels and interests. Teachers should be given professional development and instructed on how to provide interesting and relevant reading opportunities for their students. Texts that were traditionally explored in English classes could be reevaluated for relevance and interest. This should be done on both the local and the State levels. Parents need to be educated on the benefits of reading as well. Parents are able to educate their children about reading well before they enter school, whether it be from modeling or reading aloud to their children. Parents need to understand the importance of reading in all academic areas. Schools should attempt to build more community conscience about reading. Schools should also take the opportunity to educate the community on the benefits of reading. These reading initiatives can be obtained with school outreach. School libraries can open doors to parents who need reading or technology resources but cannot afford them. School leaders can coordinate opportunities for community leaders and school personnel to appear in low socioeconomic areas to promote reading.