Middle School Students’ Reading Responses

A Linguistic Perspective


  • Zhihui Fang University of Florida
  • Richard E. Ferdig Kent State University
  • Zhijun Wang Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
  • Brian K. Trutschel Orange County (Florida) Public School




language arts pedagogy, written response, functional linguistics


Reading response holds a prominent place in the English language arts curriculum. Despite its importance, few studies have explored students’ performance on the task from a linguistic perspective. This article examines a random sample of reading responses generated by students enrolled in a middle school online language arts course using a genre-specific tool that addresses content, logic, stance, and engagement. Results from the linguistic analysis show that the adolescents’ responses typically focused on personal feelings, story retelling, and character analysis, with little evidence of thematic interpretation. This finding is discussed in light of the current literature on response writing and language arts pedagogy.

Author Biographies

Zhihui Fang, University of Florida

Zhihui Fang is Professor and Head of Language Arts, Reading, and Children's Literature (LARC) Program in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida.

Richard E. Ferdig, Kent State University

Richard E. Ferdig (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is the Summit Professor of Learning Technologies and Professor of Instructional Technology at Kent State University working within the Research Center for Educational Technology and also the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences. He has served as researcher and instructor at Michigan State University, the University of Florida, the Wyzsza Szkola Pedagogiczna (Krakow, Poland), and the Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (Italy). His research interests include online education, educational games and simulations, the role of faith in technology, and what he labels a deeper psychology of technology.

Zhijun Wang, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Zhijun Wang (Ph.D., Fudan University) is Professor and Vice Dean of School of Foreign Languages at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Florida in 2009. His research interests include applied linguistics and academic writing.

Brian K. Trutschel, Orange County (Florida) Public School

Brian K. Trutschel (Ed.S., University of Florida) is currently a Literacy Coach for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida. He specializes in assessment and intensive (remedial) literacy instruction.


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How to Cite

Fang, Z., Ferdig, R. E., Wang, Z., & Trutschel, B. K. (2014). Middle School Students’ Reading Responses: A Linguistic Perspective. Writing & Pedagogy, 6(3), 531-553. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.v6i3.531



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