Gender differences in adolescents’ out-of-school literacy practices: A multifaceted approach

Computers & Education | Full-text | Asli Ünlüsoy, Mariëtte de Haan, Paul Leseman, Claudia van Kruistum

The present study examined the out-of-school literacy activities of 70 students in 7th grade of prevocational training schools in the Netherlands. Guttmann’s Facet Theory was applied to study literacy as a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. With the increasing influence of digital technologies, the facet design approach was found especially suited to track the many changes occurring in presentation modalities, functions, and productive versus consumptive uses of literacy. The study shows that the facet approach was useful in pinpointing how these shifts in literacy engagement turn out differently for boys and girls. Based on self-reports via an Internet questionnaire, the study shows that girls outscored boys in every aspect of literacy, including computer and Internet based literacy practices. However, while among girls a more balanced profile was found regarding the engagement in traditional and new literacy practices, the boys reported a high preference for the new digital media. Moreover, we found that girls, compared to boys, used new literacy activities more often for educational purposes. The findings suggest that, given this more balanced profile, girls, compared to boys, are less at risk of losing touch with traditional print-based educational literacy in school.