Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The apprentice-teaching project: Agency among school-identified "struggling" readers in a cross-age reading intervention
by Mullin, Margaret Boling, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 393; 3669386
Abstract (Summary)

In this qualitative study, I sought to open a space where previously marginalized fifth and sixth graders - those identified for remedial reading classes - could become agents of their own reading. Rather than using mandated or scripted reading programs, I co-created an apprentice program with my intermediate students by which they became teachers of reading to first graders. My teacher-researcher stance allowed me to explore agentic acts among the students involved and identify classroom conditions which supported school-productive literacy.

The Apprentice-Teaching Project drew on sociocultural perspectives of literacy, apprenticeship theory, and a view of agency which connects students' agentic actions with the various identities they enacted. Data, including field notes, audio and video recordings, and student work, were analyzed using a combination of thematic and narrative methods.

In their roles as apprentice-teachers, participants learned new Discourses and remade their identities from school-identified "struggling" readers to Readers and Teachers, thereby joining the "literacy club." In general they exerted school-productive agency when confronted with difficult reading tasks, rather than remaining marginalized from school literacy communities.

I argue that students marginalized by the teaching practices fostered by recent educational policy initiatives are best served by knowledgeable, professional teachers who are free to create responsive curricula in light of needs observed among students. I further argue that the educational community needs to examine the ways we have approached the teaching of metacognitive reading strategies. The apprentice-teachers did not take up these strategies as tools to deepen their understanding; instead, they perceived the strategies as "tasks" to be done after reading. Furthermore, to foster engaged reading, this study demonstrated the efficacy of a curriculum that provides students with voice and choice in selecting texts and socially-interactive environments in which to construct meanings around those texts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lewison, Mitzi
Commitee: Engebretson, Kathryn, Leland, Christine, Nyikos, Martha
School: Indiana University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Elementary education, Literacy, Reading instruction, Curriculum development
Keywords: Agency, At-risk youth, Cross-age tutoring, Reading, Teacher-research
Publication Number: 3669386
ISBN: 978-1-321-44853-5
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