Bryna Wiens


Spring 2020



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Bill Lindquist

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Laura Duke

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Misty Caston


The purpose of this study was to gather information about the characteristics of literacy centers associated with high student engagement in my kindergarten classroom, exploring the guiding research question: what characteristics of literacy centers correlate with engaged, self-directed learning? The majority of the current research about literacy centers points to why independent literacy work is necessary, yet potentially problematic as students tend to be less engaged when working independently versus when under direct instruction with the teacher. Limited research has been conducted to examine the characteristics of centers that are associated with more engaging independent literacy work for kindergarteners, which was the focus of this study. The research was conducted as action research in the author’s own kindergarten classroom with fifteen participant students. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection were used. The quantitative data, in the form of percent of student time actively engaged at each center, numerically coded student-self-reported engagement questionnaires, and numerically coded rubrics of student work samples, showed which literacy centers were associated with the highest student engagement. The qualitative data, in the form of student group discussion and observations along with analysis of common characteristics among the high engagement centers, worked together with the quantitative data to provide insight into the characteristics correlated with higher student engagement. The results of this study demonstrated that the characteristics of production, social interaction, creativity, choice, salient value for growth and thoughtful use of technology were correlated with higher student engagement. Engagement for a diverse group of students, preferences and skills requires that a variety of center characteristics be included in the center design with proper balance for the kindergarten classroom. The author offers many implications for modifications to center design and implementation based on the findings of this study.


student engagement, literacy centers, kindergarten








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