Date of Award

6-18-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Anne D. Creany, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Valeri R. Helterbran, Ed.D

Third Advisor

Mary R. Jalongo, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore practicing middle school teachers’ perspectives on their decision to incorporate controversial young adult literature into their classrooms. The teachers described how their decision affected the curriculum and how the integration of this literature into the curriculum changed or influenced the culture of their middle school classroom. Even if some teachers consider controversial young adult novels as assets to their curriculum that would engage their students, they opt for safer titles in order to avoid confrontations with parents, administrators, or school board members. The in-service teachers selected for this study were middle school teachers of language arts; they participated in focus groups interviews of four teachers each and five individual in-depth, semi-structured interviews. As opposed to an explanation of middle school teachers’ views, the goal of this study is to explore and describe the teachers’ perspectives on controversial young adult literature and its effect on a middle school classroom culture. The participants’ responses were audio-taped and transcribed. Participants’ comments were analyzed in order to find common themes and ideas that related to the teachers’ perceptions concerning classroom culture and controversial young adult literature. Data were analyzed with the theories of critical literacy as a backdrop. The findings were validated by the themes that emerged across the data in comparison to the information presented in the literature. Each case study was organized around the key questions posed by the study. Results from the study indicated that the participants’ classroom cultures were positively affected by controversial young adult literature. Furthermore, through the themes found in this literature, students have been inspired to strategize ways to problem solve, deal with conflict, and overcome struggles. In addition, participants reported that students experienced deeper thinking, moral sensitivity, social awareness, and tolerance. Although this study presented interesting insights, the researcher suggests that a larger sample of teachers from a variety of middle schools be studied to test whether the conclusions drawn from this study remain stable. Most importantly, participants described the positive effects of implementing controversial young adult literature with passion, vigor, and enthusiasm.

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