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ERIC Number: EJ782192
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Mar
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-1081-3004
"I Just like Being Good at It": The Importance of Competence in the Literate Lives of Young Men
Smith, Michael; Wilhelm, Jeffrey D.
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, v47 n6 p454-461 Mar 2004
This study explores the importance of competence in boys' literate lives. Participants were 49 middle and high school boys from very different backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, and levels of academic achievement. They came from an elite, private all boys' school; a large suburban high school; a large urban school; and a small rural school. The schools were located in three states along the eastern seaboard of the United States. This study draws on three kinds of interview data collected: an interview on the boys' favorite activities; an interview on their responses to short profiles emphasizing different ways of embracing or rejecting various kinds of literacy; and an interview every four to six weeks about literacy logs in which the boys recorded all of the reading, writing, listening, and viewing they did in and out of school over a three-month period. In general, the participants embraced activities in which they were competent or through which they felt they could demonstrate improvement toward competence. They rejected activities in which they believed they would be or appear to be incompetent. The data not only establish the importance of competence, but also indicates that the activities favored by the boys tended to be ones in which they could receive clear and immediate feedback on their competence. Recognizing the critical importance of competence in the literate lives of the participants challenges the authors as teachers and teacher educators. Their data have caused them to consider their instruction in a new way.
International Reading Association. 800 Barksdale Road, P.O. Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139. Tel: 800-336-7323; Fax: 302-731-1057; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A