School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


James Swezey


Reading, Readers, Lived-experience of Readers, Self-concept of Reading, Hermeneutic Phenomenology


Education | English Language and Literature


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and better understand the lived experiences of what it means to be a reader as a high school student. The literature revealed a plethora of studies and articles on various aspects of reading and many pieces from teachers, researchers, and academics’ perspectives, but there are virtually no studies that have explored what being a reader means from the high school reader’s perspective; no studies that have explored the lived experiences of what being a reader means to high school students. The central question guiding this study asked, “What is the lived experience of a self-identified reader?” I discussed and explored the lived experiences with 11 high school juniors and seniors in three high schools in a small city in the northeastern United States. The theory that guided this study was Vygotsky’s social constructivism theory; this theory is predicated on the belief that development and learning are socially situated. The three main elements of this theory, social interaction, the more knowledgeable other, and the zone of proximal development, all are related to students’ learning to read and developing as readers and are therefore related to the study’s focus. This study collected data in four ways: personal interviews, text and email messages, protocol writing, and reader-inspired photographs, pictures, and images. Data were analyzed using lean coding, thematic analysis, and phenomenological reflection.