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Tackling the drop-off: Understanding the teenage reading experience

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, March 16, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The leisure reading habits of teenagers have changed considerably over the last decade, and a teenage drop-off in reading for pleasure has been documented. Such findings have led to an increase in research focused on understanding teenagers’ reading activities, however, reading activities are usually measured simply by time spent engaging with different text types (e.g., books, social networking sites, magazines); a more nuanced understanding of teenagers’ experiences with these different text types is needed. Different texts offer teenagers different cognitive, social and emotional reading experiences, yet we do not understand teenagers’ perspectives of these experiences. Working with the Scottish Book Trust, a Teenage Advisory Panel (n = 8) will be convened and led by the PhD student to inform and support the research throughout. A mixed methods research study will involve interviewing 45 teenagers (aged 13-16) about their cognitive, social and emotional experiences with different texts. This will help us to gain a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the ways in which different text types offer and foster different reading experiences. Thematic analysis of the interviews will lead to the development of a new theoretical framework; this will inform the design of a questionnaire, administered to a representative sample of ~600 students (aged 13-16), to statistically examine developmental differences in teenagers’ cognitive, social and emotional experiences and the relationship between their reading experiences and their reading habits, attitudes and skills. The project aims to study the widely cited steady decline in teenage reading engagement but from a novel approach – examining developmental differences in teenagers’ reading experiences. Working closely with the Scottish Book Trust throughout, the research will inform their programmes and resources to support teenage reading and tackle the drop-off.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

• Achieve (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Undergraduate Honours degree in psychology or relevant social science discipline.
• Experience of, or interest in, research or work in school settings.
• Quantitative OR qualitative design, data collection and analysis skills.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills.
• Enthusiasm and a conscientious approach to work.
• Be able to organize own work and meet deadlines.
• Be able to work within a team and show an interest in working across academic and non-academic settings.

• Achieve (or expect to achieve) a Masters degree in psychology, education, or relevant social science discipline.
• Experience of research/work with children or teenagers
• Quantitative AND qualitative design, data collection and analysis skills.
• Confident user of NVivo, SPSS and/or R.
• Experience of presenting information in different formats and styles to reach different audiences.
• An interest in the work of Scottish Book Trust and a passion to promote its charitable aims.

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2020. It includes
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other Information:
As part of this PhD project you will be supported to work across academic (University) and non-academic (Scottish Book Trust) settings. Furthermore, you will be supported by PhD supervisors at the University of Edinburgh and University of Dundee who are working across disciplinary boundaries (Psychology and Education). You will spend the majority of your time at the University of Edinburgh but will work closely with the Scottish Book Trust (also based in Edinburgh) throughout.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 30th March 2020. Interviews will take place on Monday 20th April.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within University of Edinburgh. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Related Subjects

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