Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Amy Seely Flint, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laura May, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Zoss, Ph.D.

Abstract

This multiple case study explores the ways in which Latina/a immigrant children make sense of immigration by reading critical multicultural texts and blogging. As U.S. immigration policy shifts have created more punitive policies for immigrant adults, these changes place both documented and undocumented children in difficult situations. With many children born in the U.S. as citizens, these families are identified as "mixed-status" families because of the rights and privileges that immigrant children and parents are afforded or denied (Capps & Fortuny, 2006). What appears to be missing from the research around immigration status and children of immigrants is how literacy, in particular digital literacy or blogging can play a role in the understanding of immigration. Studies have illustrated that critical literacy discussions often help facilitate Latina/a immigrant youth's understandings of the multiple communities and larger social spaces and their identities. Moreover, blogging also gives students an opportunity to express themselves in a way which will make them feel comfortable, which is not always possible in a classroom setting (Bloch, 2011, p. 159). The questions guiding this study are: How does reading critical multicultural texts around immigration issues and discussions in computer-mediated discourse communities help children make meaning of a larger social issue like immigration? and (2) How do children use computer mediated discussions to deepen their understandings of literature?

Three lines of inquiry guided the research: social constructivist learning theories (Gee, 2004; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978), critical literacy theory (Lewison, Flint, & Van Sluys, 2002: Luke, 2012; Luke & Freebody, 2012), and transactional theory (Rosenblatt, 1978, 2005; Smagorinsky, 2001). Participants in the study were third grade Latina/a students. Data sources included students' blog posts, audio recordings of classroom discussions, student writing samples, field notes, and interviews. Constant comparative approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1965) was used to analyze the data. Findings demonstrate that discussions and blogging afforded students a space to deconstruct the complexities surrounding immigration and immigration policies. Students' gained a greater sense of agency when disrupting the status quo and taking action on such issues. The broader implications from this study highlight the need to use varied modalities and formats when working with culturally diverse students and critical multicultural texts.

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