Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Peggy Albers

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Flint

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura May

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Mona Matthews


The day-to-day use of language and social actions in the classroom represents different modes of communication and are used as tools to negotiate the academic demands of the curriculum (Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Vygotsky, 1986). Teachers and students rely on verbal and nonverbal modes of communication to navigate teaching and learning in the classroom (Johnston, 2004; Lose, 2008; Mercer, 2008). Thus, a range of communicative interactions were examined through the lens of sociocultural theory within a worldview of constructivism as teachers and children engaged in learning. The purpose of this study was to identify the modes through which teachers and students communicated and interacted to co-construct meaning, and the extent to which these modes were read, interpreted, and understood by each other in a Reading Recovery writing lesson. The following questions guided the research:

  • What modes do teachers and students use to communicate in the writing portion of Reading Recovery lessons?
  • To what extent do teachers and students read, interpret, and understand each other’s modal interactions in the writing portion of Reading Recovery lessons?
  • What modal adjustments do teachers make to scaffold and adapt instruction for student learning?

This qualitative multi-case study design (Yin, 2014) investigated different modes of communication used with Reading Recovery teachers and their respective students in a one-on-one instructional setting focused on writing. Data collection included field notes, audio/video recordings, student work samples, and the researcher’s journal. Data was analyzed using multimodal interaction analysis (Norris, 2004) along with Navarro (2008) who also studies body language. The study found literacy learning involves a complex set of communicative practices and Reading Recovery teachers and students used a range of modes to communicate and respond to each other in the writing portion of the lesson. These modal responses foster or inhibit the co-construction of meaning in teaching and learning. This study adds to the literature that considers interactional and social dimensions of learning for students who struggle with some aspect of literacy learning thus preventing literacy failure and referral to special education.


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