Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Mallette, Marla

Second Advisor

Smith, Lynn


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF CHRISTINE E. WIGGS, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in EDUCATION, presented on October 19, 2012, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: UNDERSTANDING READING THROUGH THE EYES OF THIRD-GRADE STRUGGLING READERS MAJOR PROFESSORS: Dr. Marla H. Mallette / Dr. Lynn C. Smith Within the vast research base on struggling readers, very few studies address the nature of struggling readers from their own perspectives; that is, how struggling readers experience reading instruction. The purpose of this qualitative case study research was to gain a deeper understanding of how three third-grade struggling readers viewed themselves as readers and how they experienced reading instruction in their classroom setting. In turn, this study captured their realities of being a struggling reader from their own perspectives. Data sources included measures of reading affect (i.e., attitude, motivation, and self-perception), interviews, classroom observations, work samples, records, and drawings. Data for each of the three cases were first analyzed separately using Boeije's (2010) Spiral of Analysis model, and then through a cross case analysis. In looking across the three cases, the unique and complex perceptions of each student were situated in three broad similarities: (a) their perceptions of reading centered on the idea that reading is about hard words, (b) their perceptions of themselves as struggling readers revealed their internal struggles, and (c) their sensitivity to the social in their perceptions of others' perceptions of them. The findings capture the important and often missing voice of the students, a major stakeholder in their own education, which leads to educational implications for reading instruction.




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