Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, PhD; Jerome Ammer, PhD; Cheryl L. Mason, PhD


adolescents, digital literacy intervention, ebooks, iPad readers, middle schools, motivation, print format, qualitative, reading comprehension, sixth grade students, southern California, technology


Technologies continue to transform the many ways that we read, write, and communicate, redefining what it means to be literate in the 21st century. For example, the explosive growth in tablet computers over the last few years has seemingly everyone embracing the new digital literacies without any real knowledge of the skills, strategies, and dispositions required to comprehend digital text. Given the newness of this technology, it's hardly surprising that little empirical research has been conducted to examine the extent to which e-books can actually improve comprehension as well as the motivation to read among students. To help solve this problem, a randomized control trial was conducted in a Southern California middle school with four 6th grade classrooms––two that received a digital literacy intervention and two that did not. The 6-week intervention consisted of independent reading of an age-appropriate e-book along with instruction on how to use the technologies associated with the digital text; the non-intervention group read the same text in standard print format. All students participated in pre- and posttests that used the Qualitative Reading Inventory to measure comprehension proficiency and the Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile to measure the motivation to read. When analysis of variance techniques were used to compare the groups, results revealed that students that received the digital intervention improved significantly more (p < .00 I) in both comprehension and motivation than those that read the printed text. In addition, regression analysis revealed that neither race, gender, standardized state test scores, nor changes in motivation were significant predictors of the change in reading comprehension; instead the only significant predictor was whether or not the student received the digital intervention. Taken together, the findings from this small sample study suggest that motivation and comprehension proficiency improved after students read an e-book on a tablet. Of course, these findings need to be replicated in larger samples, but if they are then schools clearly need to rethink resource all location decisions in an effort to promote and integrate e-books into their curriculum, which may include either leasing tablets, using bookless libraries, or all owing students to bring their own devices to class.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access