Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Field Experience

Superseded Degree Name

Master Of Arts In Urban Bilingual Education

Colleges & School

College Of Education And Leadership

First Advisor

Andrew Patterson

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Reading comprehension; Academic achievement; Self-esteem; Self-perception


This study explores how the implementation of a Literature Circles program for literacy instruction impacts English reading comprehension and student attitudes towards reading among a group of upper elementary, Latino English Language Learners (ELLs). Previous research has shown that ELLs tend to have lower self-esteem related to their academic and behavioral competencies in school, and that Latino students can experience a correlation between academic performance and self-perceptions of "belonging" in school (Leclair, Doll, Osborn, & Johnson, 2009; Morrison, Cosden, O'Farrell, & Campos, 2003). This unique set of social and emotional concerns can be addressed effectively in the literacy classroom via instructional methods that move away from traditional "Initiate, Response, Feedback" teacher-student discourse patterns (Mehan, 1979) and instead utilize more open-ended activities and instructional conversations that encourage critical thinking (Luk, 2004; Doherty & Hilberg, 2007). In light of existing research, an action research protocol was designed involving the use of a Literature Circles program in a classroom setting--specifically, a leveled English reading group for ELL students in 3rd through 5th grade. Students were divided into groups of two to four students based on their expressed preference for one of five different novels. They spent four weeks reading these novels while engaging in independent, written critical thinking activities and structured discussions with their book groups, while periodically participating in small-group, teacher-led strategy lessons. At the beginning and end of the study, their reading comprehension was assessed using the Qualitative Reading Inventory, 5th Edition (QRI-5; Leslie & Caldwell, 2011), while their attitudes toward reading were assessed using a survey designed by the researcher. Results from these indicators at the beginning and end of the intervention were compared in order to assess student growth. The researcher also analyzed the independent written activities students did in their book groups, using a number of quantitative indicators to trace any changes in language production over time. The findings of the study did not conclusively show that Literature Circles exerted a systematic, positive impact upon reading comprehension and student attitudes among the sample population. It is likely, however, that the effectiveness of the intervention was impeded by methodological shortcomings and missed opportunities to incorporate specific research tested principles of best practice for ELL literacy instruction, pointing toward the need for future research into this subject.


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