Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Beginning Secondary Teachers Understand and Enact Academic Literacies in Their Classrooms: A Qualitative Multi-Case Study
by Hawley, Cassandra Helen, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2010, 231; 3444027
Abstract (Summary)

Significant numbers of secondary school students are failing to acquire advanced literacies that will enable them to move on to higher levels of education, to be successful in the workforce, and to participate in a democracy. This qualitative multi-case study was designed to explore new teachers’ understandings and enactments with academic literacies in their classrooms. It was the researcher’s assumption that, despite more recent focus on academic literacies in teacher education, beginning teachers may have limited understandings, abilities and opportunities to promote academic literacy and contextualize it to their subject matter content.

The purposefully selected sample of two new teachers in English and social science was chosen from two different geographic and demographic school settings. The primary qualitative method of data collection used was in-depth phenomenological interviews, using triangulation methods of classroom observation and document analysis. The data were coded and organized in alignment with the research questions. The study does not analyze any quantitative measures of academic literacy but instead focuses on socio-cultural contexts in which academic literacies flourish through richly descriptive case studies. Analysis and interpretation of the findings were aligned to categories established by the study’s socio-cultural theoretical and conceptual framework: (a) how the participant-teachers had personally constructed their own academic literacies, (b) how their personal perceptions impacted their understandings of students' needs for developing academic literacies, (c) what supports and barriers influenced enactments of academic literacies in their teaching practice.

This study revealed that personal experiences through interactions with others in a wide variety of contexts exert a strong influence on achieving academic literacy. Because of the socio-cultural nature of acquiring academic literacies, new teachers bring to it personal biases based on their experiences. Local, state and national literacy policies often constrain new teachers’ attempts to provide interactive contexts within which students can develop academic literacies that will increase their access to content knowledge.

Recommendations are offered for policy makers, school administrators, teacher mentors, new teachers, and future research. Recognizing that policies are implemented locally and school environments may vary dramatically in structures and demographics, the recommendations should be considered in the specific contexts of students’ diverse educational needs rather than generalized for all schools. However, as the two research participants were chosen to match the profile of the average teacher, the findings may seem similar to other new teachers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Faltis, Christian J.
Commitee: Abedi, Jamal, Thaiss, Christopher
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Language arts, Teacher education
Keywords: Academic English, Academic language, Academic literacy, Beginning teachers, Teacher education
Publication Number: 3444027
ISBN: 9781124508764
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