Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Theodore W. Hipple

Committee Members

Colleen P. Gilrane, John Ray, Lisa Scherff


The purpose of this study was to discover as much as possible about high school English teacher’s knowledge, attitude, and use of young adult literature in the classroom. It examined the young adult literature books that teachers use in the classroom. It also looked at teachers’ opinions about using young adult literature in the classroom. Finally, it examined whether or not teachers belonged to certain professional affiliations.

A mail survey approach was used to data collection. The sample for this study consisted of high school English teachers from 12 different schools. Of the 138 teachers who were contacted, 94 returned questionnaires. One teacher, however, noted that she no longer taught English, but drama instead. Excluding that questionnaire, 93 responses were received, netting a response rate of 67%. The survey instrument was five pages long and included nine open-ended questions concerning the general use of young adult literature in the classroom.

This study revealed that the majority, 73%, showed that they did not use young adult literature for one reason or another, but did have specific knowledge of young adult literature. Even though some did not indicate this through the survey table, there were able to list any additional books on their own, without any prompting

I also found that the young adult novels that teachers do not use in the classroom are considered the “classics” of young adult literature. These are the novels that were marketed towards young adults and have stood the test of time. These are the popular novels used in the classroom today.

Although these older novels are the ones that are being taught in the classrooms, respondents did indicate that they have read more contemporary work. Newer novels include Wolff’s Make Lemonade, published in 1994, Out of the Dust by Hesse, 1997, and Holes by Sachar, published in 1998. Even more current is Anderson’s Speak, which was published in 1999.

The study revealed that there is not much consistency in how departments promote the use of young adult literature. Some respondents felt like their department did promote the use of it while others felt it did not. Some respondents in the same school had conflicting ideas about this. Many said the department promoted the use of young adult literature through the use of required summer reading. Others said that young adult literature was used in their lower level classes.

Reasons for not using young adult literature also varied widely. Most who did not use it in the classroom felt that they did not have enough time to complete their curriculum, while others felt tat it was just not challenging enough. Some respondents admitted that they had not read much young adult literature and did not feel qualified to make any statements about it, much less use it in their classrooms.

The study revealed that most of the respondents did not belong to professional affiliations that promote the use of young adult literature. Out of the 93 responses, 38 belonged to National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) while only one belonged to the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN.

In addition to listing other book taught in the classroom, some respondents included Romeo and Juliet, Frankenstein, Animal Farm, 194, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, Of Mica and Men, Old Man and the Sea, and Lord of the Flies.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."