Motivation for Religious Literacy Practices of Religious Youth : Examining the Practices of Latter‐day Saint and Methodist Youth in One Community
Ann Arbor, MI
University of Michigan
Literacy and motivation for literacy are important areas in educational research and practice, but there currently exists a gap in the literature of both areas with regard to religious youth. The importance of attending to this gap may be illustrated by the consistently large proportion of religious youth in the United States whose religious literate practices are powerful forces in their lives. Drawing on constructs from the fields of literacy, motivation for reading, and psychology of religion I developed a framework for exploring Methodist and Latter‐day Saint (Mormon) youths’ literate practices and what drives them. Using qualitative research and data analysis techniques, I observed the 16 youth in this study in various religious contexts for a year. I also conducted three semi‐structured interviews and collected artifacts for analysis.
This dissertation explores similarities and differences between the two groups of youth with regard to their literacy practices and their motivations for literacy. The participants from both congregations learned to value religious literate practices through similar, but distinct patterns of religious literacy instruction. Through this instruction Methodist youth learned to value interpreting scripture through discussions. Latter‐day Saint youth learned to value knowing what scripture said by reading, recalling, and memorizing passages. The youth were motivated for literacy when their religious environments were safe, connected, and educative, and cohered with their social and cultural values and practices. Motivation for literacy was also influenced by texts. Youth were motivated to engage with religious texts because the texts provided xiii them with strength, comfort, knowledge about living their lives, and connection with God.