Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Peggy Albers

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Ariail

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Seely Flint

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito


Located in social semiotics (Hodge & Kress, 1988), theories of identity (Goffman, 1959; Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998), and third space (Gutierrez, Baquedano, & Turner, 1997; Rowe & Leander, 2005), this dissertation presents the findings from a year long, field-based qualitative study with a high school class of nine Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS) students and their teacher. The study used an arts-infused multimodal curriculum exploring Spanish language texts and cultures from around the world. The following questions guided this study: (a) What factors were considered as the teacher and the researcher co-planned this arts-infused multimodal curriculum, and how did the consideration of those factors shape the curriculum?, (b) How did students enrolled in this SNS class negotiate meaning and identity as they worked within this class?, and (c) What discourses around students’ meaning making practices and identities emerged within their visual texts over time and across texts?

Data sources included interviews, observations, student-generated visual texts, photographs from class sessions, student journals, and audio and videotapes of portions of class discussions and activities. Visual texts were coded for elements of visual design and apparent discourses with which the text-maker identifies (Albers, 2007b; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). Five themes emerged from the data: 1) The teacher participant and researcher co-created the curriculum using critical-care pedagogy; 2) Actual participation in and creation of visual and multimodal texts shaped the classroom community; (3) Negotiation and meaning making occurred through the flexible use of sign systems; 4) Participants worked through understandings of self; and 5) Personally relevant discourses emerged within individual and group texts. The study suggested that heritage language courses like this one can teach more than language. Such courses deserve attention as havens where students’ complex meaning making of themselves, their worlds, and their places in them are freely explored.


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