Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor


Second Advisor



Adolescence is a critical time period when it comes to fostering lifelong interest and practices in reading, yet a decreasing number of middle school students are performing at Proficient and Advanced levels in reading. The purpose of this study was to examine whether providing middle school students with an increased level of choice in their reading material during independent, in-class reading resulted in a change in their reading attitudes and perceptions, and consequently, their reading achievement scores. Using a mixed methods action research design, I provided sixth-grade students with free-choice independent reading in class. I used a pretest–posttest format with the IXL English Language Arts Diagnostic to assess reading achievement and collected data from surveys, focus group discussions, and individual interviews to determine how free-choice, in-class independent reading influenced students’ perceptions of reading. I also used the survey, focus group, and interview data to investigate how those perceptions consequently affected students’ reading achievement. My findings provide additional evidence to support the need for a change in the way in which reading is taught in middle school. With the increasing concern among educators about adolescent reading achievement and the pressure put on educators to increase test scores, this study illustrates to researchers and educators alike that improving adolescent students’ reading achievement may be accomplished through engaging students in free-choice, independent reading rather than the one-size-fits-all, traditional curriculum.