Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ann Trousdale


This study investigated discourse according to gender-related patterns of eight sixth-grade students (four boys and four girls) as they discussed four realistic fiction short stories in peer-led discussion groups that alternated between same-sex and mixed-sex group compositions. Descriptive data were analyzed according to the constant comparative method of analysis. Quantitative analysis was used to determine discourse patterns in terms of frequency. Data were analyzed to answer the following questions: (1) Will the discourse patterns vary when the students discuss their responses in same-sex groups and mixed-sex groups? If so, in what ways will they vary? (2) Will gender differences be apparent in the oral discussions? If so, what are the gender differences? (3) What texts or text elements will be woven into the students' oral discussions? Will the texts woven into the students' oral discussions reveal gender related patterns? The results indicated differences for all three questions. In same-sex groups, the boys tended to use a personal frame of reference, to compare themselves to the action in the story with statements, and to include more off-focus comments, as well as motions or sounds; the girls tended to use a text-driven frame of reference, compare themselves to the action in the story with questions, and to include few off-focus comments, motions, or sounds. The mixed-sex groups were more like the girls' same-sex discussions. The girls were not silenced in the mixed-sex groups. Other differences included an emphasis on physical action for the boys and an emphasis on relationships and emotions for the girls. There was a difference in the types of linking to other texts with the girls tending to make connections to elements of the short stories in the study, while the boys tended to refer to extra-textual sources. All of the students interpreted the story based on the intertext of their lives. These findings suggest that gender differences do influence and can enhance mixed-sex literature discussion groups.