Power is an unavoidable issue when discussing relationships between teachers and their students because teachers have both the sanctioned authority over students in school, as well as having the natural authority conveyed by being an adult. How can writing with students improve teacher-student relationships and soften the power differential? This dissertation explored the language of real and perceived power by analyzing the written conversations between a teacher (myself) and five of my sixth-grade students in dialogue journals. Although previous research indicates that writing in dialogue journals increases student empowerment, no research has focused on how these opportunities to shift power differentials might impact student learning and the teacher-student relationships. Drawing on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of language and learning and Rosenblatt’s transactional theory of reading and writing, this study examined language within the journals that indicated student empowerment, student disempowerment, and teacher-student relationship-building. Using a directed qualitative critical content analysis, five dialogue journals were analyzed to identify text that showed reinforcement of conventional language, reversal of conventional language, or the language of role equality. Findings suggest that when authentic relationships are built, and traditional roles are suspended, students are empowered in various ways, and language of equality can be attained. This research is important to the field of literacy studies because writing with students in dialogue journals is a classroom practice that can empower students and improve relationships between teachers and students. There is a mutual advantage in students and teachers developing an authentic, positive, growth-oriented working relationship. Keywords: dialogue journals, student empowerment, teacher-student relationships, conventional language, equality, written conversation, communication partners
|Advisor:||Henry, Jeanne M.|
|Commitee:||Catalano, Amy, Flurkey, Alan, Fusco, Esther, McGinnis, Theresa|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Language arts, Middle School education, Pedagogy|
|Keywords:||Communication partners, Dialogue journals, Equality, Student empowerment, Teacher-student relationships, Written conversation|
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