Investigating an Online Study Group as a Path to Critical Digital Writing for Four Middle Grades English Teachers: A Qualitative Study Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Caprino, Kathryn
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • Although current rhetoric around education emphasizes the importance of technology in the classroom and technologies have altered the ways in which we write, the English classroom looks much like it did a hundred years ago. Furthermore, English teachers are not prepared to understand the ways in which digital writing can be a space for critical literacy. Building on the literature of teachers as writers, technological pedagogical content knowledge, digital writing, new literacies, and critical literacy, this dissertation study contributes to the research gaps around inservice English teachers as digital writers and the connections between digital writing and critical literacy. This collective case study examines the digital writing practices of four inservice middle grades English teachers, their writing pedagogies, and the moves they made toward critical literacy as a result of an online study group designed to help participants consider how digital writing can be a space for critical literacy. Findings revealed teacher-participants, who were all active digital writers, wrote in myriad personal and professional genres but wrote with rather conventional stances. Though technological barriers and teacher-centered pedagogies characterized these teachers’ classrooms, they began to express understandings of the affordances of digital writing and new literacies practices. Furthermore, teachers’ beliefs and understandings about digital writing and new literacies were reflected in their writing pedagogy. My study revealed that acquiring critical literacy is a developmental process and can be developed as a result of engaging in an online study group dedicated to helping teachers understand the connections between digital writing and critical literacy. Findings revealed teachers tended to focus on a single element of critical literacy in their final digital text composition projects, reflected on their practice in regard to critical literacy, and noted several challenges to enacting critical literacy in the middle grades English classroom. In order to help preservice and inservice English teachers engage in digital writing with a critical stance and have their students do the same, I provide a model for English educators and suggest teacher educators encourage English teachers to reflect on what counts as ‘real’ writing, reflect on writing assignments, analyze new literacies practices within digital writing spaces, and engage in digital writing with a critical stance.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Danielewicz, Jane
  • Justice, Julie
  • Bolick, Cheryl
  • Glazier, Jocelyn
  • McDiarmid, Bill
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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