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SparkNotes Use and Attitudes Among High School English Language Arts Students: A Retrospective Exploratory Mixed-Method Study


SparkNotes Use and Attitudes Among High School English Language Arts Students: A Retrospective Exploratory Mixed-Method Study

Dunbar, Amanda Light (2021) SparkNotes Use and Attitudes Among High School English Language Arts Students: A Retrospective Exploratory Mixed-Method Study. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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This mixed-method study explored recollections of SparkNotes use among high school students in terms of the rate of use, the reasons for use, and the characteristics of users. The study also explored feelings and attitudes about SparkNotes use, particularly whether or not it is considered a form of cheating. An electronic survey collected quantitative and qualitative data from 209 anonymous participants with high school graduation dates between 2000 and 2020, most of whom described themselves as good readers who enjoyed reading. Sixty-nine percent reported that they had used SparkNotes for support with English homework, and this proportion did not vary significantly across geographic, vocational, or reading behavior-based cohorts, although there was a slight positive association between SparkNotes use and graduation year. Participants mainly reported using SparkNotes when they needed help understanding a text (68%) or remembering details of what they had read (66%), or when they had not entirely read the text (57%). Forty percent of participants said that using SparkNotes is not cheating, and 38% said it depends. When prompted for elaboration, participants offered qualitative comments suggesting intellectual engagement, plagiarism, and not reading as main factors in determining the legitimacy of a student’s SparkNotes use. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of New Literacy Studies. Overall, results of the study indicate that SparkNotes is widely used as both a supplement to and a partial replacement for reading primary texts in high school English class, and that whether or not this is considered cheating depends largely on individual conceptions and values around reading.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Dunbar, Amanda Light
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Child Studies
Date:August 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Chang-Kredl, Sandra
Keywords:SparkNotes, Literary Study Guides, Literacy, Adolescent Literacy, Reading, Reading Motivation, Cheating, Plagiarism, Ideal Reader, English Language Arts
ID Code:988683
Deposited By: Amanda Light Dunbar
Deposited On:29 Nov 2021 16:41
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 16:41


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