Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Terri A. Fredrick


This thesis explores methods for engaging high school boys in the writing classroom. Chapter one describes the differing beliefs scholars have about boys' educational situation, specifically in English language arts. Several researchers and scholars describe boys' situation as dire because boys have failed to improve as girls have over the last sixty years. These researchers cite various reasons for boys' academic stagnation, such as learning styles, hormones, brain structure and development, the feminization of the classroom, motivation, engagement, and teaching styles. These factors may contribute to the gender gap in writing. Other scholars deny the urgency of boys' lack of improvement in writing altogether, arguing that girls have always outperformed boys academically and that girls have only reached academic parity with boys. Ultimately, one significant difference between boys and girls remains: boys dislike writing more than girls do. The conclusion of chapter one outlines research-supported methods teachers can employ to engage boys in writing to improve their enjoyment. Chapter two describes a small-scale study in two sophomore English classes in a small, Midwestern high school. One of the classes acts as a constant, and the other class receives six different interventions aimed at improving male students' enjoyment of writing in the classroom. Chapter three discusses the study findings. Male and female students in this school felt similarly about school, writing, and themselves. In general, the students expressed a negative opinion of their class and of writing. While the interventions did not appear to affect the male students' enjoyment of writing, two unexpected findings emerged from the research: although male and female students expressed similar opinions about their teacher and their class, the male students acted out in class because of their frustrations and confusion, while the female students seemed to put their work ahead of their opinions; also, the interventions seemed to improve the students' perceptions of their teacher, which emerged as the single most important factors in these students' enjoyment of writing. The conclusion to chapter three discusses these two findings at length. Chapter four assesses the effectiveness of the study and then discusses strategies teachers can use to foster positive relationships with their students.