The Effect of Young Adult Literature on Adolescents' Acceptance of Relational Aggression

Ilisa Joy Lieberman-Leibovich, Florida International University


Though bullying in various manifestations has been studied at length, there remains a gap in the literature regarding deterring relational aggression through the use of literature in the classroom. The present explanatory sequential mixed methods study (n = 141) sought to measure the effect of a literature-based instructional unit on adolescents’ acceptance of relational aggression, a type of covert bullying that leverages friendships to hurt others psychologically and emotionally. Quantitative data were collected to further develop the quantitative results. The novel utilized for the literary unit of instruction with treatment groups was The Misfits, by James Howe (2011). Participants in the study were middle grades, 6th and 8th grade, English language arts students attending a charter school in a major metropolitan school district. Eight classes participated in the study and were assigned conditions of treatment (n = 4) or control (n = 4). All participants were pre-tested and post-tested using the Diverse Adolescent Relational Aggression Scale (Horton, 2010). The qualitative data includes responses from 8 of the participants’ interviews and the researchers’ journal discussions. Discussions were within the framework of literature and literacy instruction. ANCOVA results showed that treatment was effective in reducing acceptance of relationally aggressive behaviors (p < .01). Treatment participants with a HIGH pre and posttest (n = 4) and LOW posttest scoring participants whose scores decreased by one standard deviation (n = 4) of acceptance of relational aggression as demonstrated by the Diverse Adolescent Relational Aggression Scale were selected for interviews. The interviews revealed that for a literature-based unit of instruction to be effective, the novel needs to be meaningful and relevant to the participants.

Subject Area

Curriculum development|Middle School education

Recommended Citation

Lieberman-Leibovich, Ilisa Joy, "The Effect of Young Adult Literature on Adolescents' Acceptance of Relational Aggression" (2019). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI28151173.