Date of Award

Spring 3-28-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education - English (Ed.D)



First Advisor

Dr. Mei-Lin Chang

Second Advisor

Dr. Nita Paris

Third Advisor

Dr. Megan Adams


The purpose of this study was to measure students’ experiences of engagement as conceptualized by flow during a critical literacy unit in a 6th grade English Language Arts class. A total of 61 respondents replied to an 18-item survey consisting of 14-Likert scaled items, one identifier, two open-ended questions, and one multiple-choice question three times a day for five days. In addition, respondents completed a 7-item survey consisting of one identifier, three demographic questions, and three Likert-scaled items. All respondents were sixth grade students at a middle school just outside of a large city in the Southeastern United States. Items on the survey were adapted from the Sloan Study of Youth and Social Development (2009) to measure students’ experience of flow conditions, students’ experience of the internal dimensions of flow, and students’ emotions in the moment. A two-tailed paired samples t test revealed that students experienced higher levels of flow in the critical literacy unit than in general Language Arts. Using Pearson’s correlation, positive correlations were found between the conditions of flow (success, importance, skill, autonomy, and focus) and the flow experience. In additions, a negative correlation was found between the challenge skill balance of a task and the flow experience. Results indicate that students’ experience of flow in the critical literacy unit was significantly increased from the baseline data. In addition, the easier the students found the assigned task, the higher students’ flow experiences were. Several significant correlations were found among the conditions of flow: importance and skill, and success and skill. A multiple linear regression was modeled to predict flow based on Skill, Challenge, Success, Autonomy, Importance, and Focus. Success and importance were significant predictors of flow while other conditions were not significant. In order to measure how students’ engagement levels change over a period of class, a repeated measures ANOVA was conducted on the flow variables from each survey. No significant difference was found for students’ flow experiences throughout the week. To measure students’ changes in flow over a class period, a repeated measures ANOVA was conducted for each day using the three composite variables measuring flow. A significant difference was found only for Day 1 of the survey. Finally, in order to measure how students’ engagement levels differed based on the type of task, composite variables of flow were created for tasks based on whether students were consuming text, creating text, or reflecting on their experience. Again, no significant difference was found. The present findings suggest that students experience flow during critical literacy practices in a sixth grade classroom due to flow conditions being met. Further research is needed to determine what qualities of critical literacy practices or the classroom environment create these conditions in students. In addition, future research is needed to identify how specific students engage in critical literacy.

KEY WORDS: Critical Literacy, Student Engagement, Flow