Out-of-school literacy activities of affluent early adolescents: Selective competencies and hidden needs

Amy Hester, Fordham University


Few studies have documented the literacy activities in an after-school setting of affluent early adolescents assigned to remedial reading. This may be because these students are not considered to be at risk of academic failure. The out-of-school literacy activities of 3 sixth-grade students were examined in this qualitative research. Multiple data sources included observations, interviews, detailed field notes, audio and video tapes, and literacy samples. They were analyzed using grounded theory methods for coding data as well as a priori coding. From the data analysis 4 hypotheses were generated: (a) in addition to staying connected to their peers, participants were using social networking to support their academic work; (b) the participants demonstrated more skills and competencies in their out-of-school literacy practices than standardized tests measure; (c) the participants engaged in personally relevant literacy activities outside of school in which they have a high level of self-efficacy; and (d) participants were creating as well as seeking distractions at different times during the study. The participants each presented a unique literacy profile. John demonstrated an ability to locate different forms of media and combining them (Video and Music). However, his visually sophisticated presentations camouflaged his lack of understanding. He has a high level of self-efficacy as a video game player but those skills are not valued in the school setting. John needs support to further develop his skills and competencies particularly for academic contexts. Sally demonstrated a thorough understanding of concepts. She utilized different sources of information for her project. She persevered when encountering difficulties in school related tasks. The study revealed a discrepancy between her test scores and her skills and competencies. Amanda demonstrated an ability to create multimedia presentations. She has a negative perception of herself as a learner. However, she appears to have a high level of self-efficacy related to technology and computers. She is aware of her challenges and seeks assistance. An awareness of the participants' unique literacy profiles outside of school will work towards expanding our understanding them as learners.

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

Hester, Amy, "Out-of-school literacy activities of affluent early adolescents: Selective competencies and hidden needs" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3517896.