Understanding high school freshman students’ attitudes towards reading : a case study of an oilfield high school in West Texas.


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In a West Texas oilfield school district of 33,000 students, many freshmen high school students continue to fail their English standardized test, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness English I End of Course exam (STAAR EOC), at astounding rates. One cause of this unfortunate trend is that students choose not to bolster their reading skills through the act of practice. Students’ failure to read is problematic in many ways. It inhibits students’ achievement on standardized tests, reduces the chance of students developing a voice and personal advocacy skills (Bussert-Webb & Zhang, 2016), and makes it difficult for students to meet the demands of the 21st-century workplace and society (Pacific Policy Research Center, 2010). Each problem raises concerns for the future of the oilfield students, of the school district, and of the community of West Texas. Students’ attitudes towards reading may be related to their reading skills (Morgan & Fuchs, 2007), impacting their self-esteem, academic development, and values (Kaniuka, 2010). To address these concerns, teachers must understand students’ attitudes toward reading and be responsive to them. This responsiveness means that teachers should consider students’ attitudes as they plan to engage their students meaningfully in the practice of reading (Afflerbach & Cho, 2011). This study investigates the effects of oilfield culture on education, specifically on students’ attitudes toward reading. This study reveals a correlation between oilfield culture and students’ attitudes towards reading through in-depth semi-structured interviews, participant-created journals, and open-ended questionnaires with four freshmen students. This study is significant because there is little research exploring the effect of oilfield culture on education. Culture is one of the defining factors in students’ identity (Gee, 2015) and informs their self-concept as a reader (McKool, 2007). Therefore, it is crucial to determine if students in oilfield communities exhibit different attitudes toward reading than students from other, similar areas of the state. With the determination of a difference, the state, the community, the school district, and the teachers will be empowered to address the specific cultural issues these students face and restructure their efforts to provide the students with the educational opportunities they deserve.



Reading. Attitude theory. Oilfield. New literacy studies. Reading attitude theory.