Exploring what motivates adolescent males to compose in digital formats

Michelle Caruso Walker, Fordham University


Statistical data from the last 15 years of literacy research tells the story of adolescent boys struggling to achieve compared to their female counterparts. This achievement gap between the genders can have serious implications for the future lives of these male students. Although there is a documented lack of engagement in the classroom setting, it is apparent that adolescent males will engage in literacy activities when they are motivated. This independent engagement is observable in the composition practices of adolescent males in digital forums. Through this qualitative study, I explored the personal experiences and motivating factors that engage adolescent males to compose in digital formats. I used one-on-one interviews with sample profiles modeled after the work of Smith and Wilhelm, to garner the reflections of the participants on their digital composition practices. During the interview analysis, it became clear that the participants valued useful, autonomous writing tasks that allowed for social interaction in a variety of writing formats. These factors are present throughout the participants’ interview responses and analysis. Digital forums and interest-led communities accessible online give adolescent males a sense of competence, freedom and valuable feedback on their writing that they reported rarely finding in the classroom setting. These findings can impact the future performance of boys in their literacy pursuits, classroom practice, the use of digital formats in the teaching of literacy and the existing perception of male under achievement in composition.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Walker, Michelle Caruso, "Exploring what motivates adolescent males to compose in digital formats" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10264045.