Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Linda Spears-Bunton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Victor Malo-Juvera

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Bruce Harvey

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Sarah Mathews

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Dr. Maria Lovett

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


bullying, relational aggression, social aggression, literature, novels, reader-response

Date of Defense



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.



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