School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Verlyn Evans


Free Voluntary Reading, Literacy, Middle School Reading, Silent Reading, Sustained Silent Reading, Teaching Reading


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology


Due to increased demand for reading achievement nationwide, middle school English/Language Arts (ELA) teachers need instructional practices to promote literacy. Student reading practice (SRP) is supported by research as such an instructional reading practice. The purpose of this holistic multiple case study was to explain how and why middle school ELA teachers choose to use SRP to promote students’ literacy at four middle schools in Virginia in light of heightened demands for reading achievement. The theories framing this study were socio-cultural learning theory (Vygotsky, 1978) and choice theory (Glasser, 1998). The design was a qualitative, holistic multiple case study of six middle school ELA teachers’ choice to use student reading practice to promote student literacy. ELA teacher participants taught one of the middle school grades, six through eight, and the student participants were associated and grouped with their ELA teacher. Data collection comprised of teacher interviews, classroom observations, and student focus groups. Data were analyzed through direct interpretation of individual cases embedded within each data type and then across cases using Stake’s (2006) multiple case study analysis methods in order to develop naturalistic generalizations about the phenomenon. Credibility was created via triangulation of data collection, expert review of data analysis, member checks, and an audit trail. The research concluded that middle school ELA teachers choose to use SRP to promote literacy because it promotes the enjoyment of reading and helps students prioritize it. SRP should be implemented in a manner that encourages lifelong reading, and the philosophies associated with socio-cultural learning theory (Vygotsky, 1978) and choice theory (Glasser, 1998) have a significant impact on teachers’ use of SRP.