The purpose of my study is to develop a list of criteria for secondary English teachers to consult when choosing texts for their students. Teachers wanting to engage their students with texts think about issues such as their instructional practices, the classroom environment they create, and the texts they choose for their students. Typically, however, secondary English teachers have limited options from which to choose to use as whole-class texts. As they examine the departmental closet of books, how do they know which texts are most likely to engage their students? One possibility is to choose a text that is most likely to be of interest to the majority of their students. To that end, my research study explores the following questions: A. What features of young adult narrative fiction texts make them interesting to their intended audience? 1. What literary features do texts enjoyed by young adult readers have in common? 2. How might traditional literary analysis and analysis using socio-cognitive descriptions of interesting texts work together to create a more robust model of interesting texts? The two theoretical perspectives that ground my work are socio-cognitive theory and transactional theory. Socio-cognitive theory is a learning theory that explains people's otivation for behavior, and transactional theory is a literary theory that explains the nature of literature and the encounter between reader and text. Using textual analysis, including qualitative content analysis and literary analysis, this study examines texts from the International Reading Association's Young Adults' Choices Reading List to identify and define textual features that build secondary engagement with texts by appealing to their situational interest. Findings support previous research that shows adolescents prefer novels with round, dynamic protagonists; progressive action; chronological narrative order; a serious tone; and a theme focused on identity. In addition, all eight novels include themes focused on relationships -- with family members, friends, and/or romantic partners. Combining literary analysis with qualitative content analysis using socio-cognitive descriptions of interesting texts (vividness, coherence, and life themes) adds to previous research on interesting texts. Not only are the themes of young adult novels important to the readers, but also the novels must be vivid and coherent. Vividness is an important textual feature of interesting texts further explained by style. Likewise, coherence is an important criteria of interesting texts, particularly for plot, character, and style.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015 . Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisors: Lee Galda, David O'Brien. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 276 pages.
Textual Features of Narrative Fiction That Lead to Situational Interest.
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