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Producing literacy practices that count for subject English

Nicolson-Setz, Helen Ann (2007) Producing literacy practices that count for subject English. Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This thesis presents a study of the production of literacy practices in Year 10 English lessons in a culturally diverse secondary school in a low socio-economic area. The study explored the everyday interactional work of the teacher and students in accomplishing the literacy knowledge and practices that count for subject English. This study provides knowledge about the learning opportunities and literacy knowledge made available through the interactional work in English lessons. An understanding of the dynamics of the interactional work and what that produces opens up teaching practice to change and potentially to improve student learning outcomes.

This study drew on audio-recorded data of classroom interactions between the teacher and students in four mainstream Year 10 English lessons with a culturally diverse class in a disadvantaged school, and three audio-recorded interviews with the teacher. This study employed two perspectives: ethnomethodological resources and Bernsteinian theory. The analyses of the interactional work using both perspectives showed how students might be positioned to access the literacy learning on offer. In addition, using both perspectives provided a way to associate the literacy knowledge and practices produced at the classroom level to the knowledge that counted for subject English.

The analyses of the lesson data revealed the institutional and moral work necessary for the assembly of knowledge about literacy practices and for constructing student-teacher relations and identities. Documenting the ongoing interactional work of teacher and students showed what was accomplished through the talk-in-interaction and how the literacy knowledge and practices were constructed and constituted. The detailed descriptions of the ongoing interactional work showed how the literacy knowledge was modified appropriate for student learning needs, advantageously positioning the students for potential acquisition.

The study produced three major findings. First, the literacy practices and knowledge produced in the classroom lessons were derived from the social and functional view of language and text in the English syllabus in use at that time. Students were not given the opportunity to use their learning beyond what was required for the forthcoming assessment task. The focus seemed to be on access to school literacies, providing students with opportunities to learn the literacy practices necessary for assessment or future schooling. Second, the teacher’s version of literacy knowledge was dominant. The teacher’s monologues and elaborations produced the literacy knowledge and practices that counted and the teacher monitored what counted as relevant knowledge and resources for the lessons. The teacher determined which texts were critiqued, thus taking a critical perspective could be seen as a topic rather than an everyday practice. Third, the teacher’s pedagogical competence was displayed through her knowledge about English, her responsibility and her inclusive teaching practice. The teacher’s interactional work encouraged positive student-teacher relations. The teacher spoke about students positively and constructed them as capable. Rather than marking student ethnic or cultural background, the teacher responded to students’ learning needs in an ongoing way, making the learning explicit and providing access to school literacies.

This study’s significance lies in its detailed descriptions of teacher and student work in lessons and what that work produced. It documented which resources were considered relevant to produce literacy knowledge. Further, this study showed how two theoretical approaches can be used to provide richer descriptions of the teacher and student work, and literacy knowledge and practices that counted in English lessons and for subject English.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16370
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Singh, Parlo, Danby, Susan, & Morgan, Wendy
Keywords: literacy practices, cultural diversity, English education, literacy policy, genre pedagogy, critical literacy, talk-in-interaction, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, membership categorisation analysis, Bernsteinian theory, pedagogic discourse, vertical discourse
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Helen Ann Nicolson-Setz
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 14:02
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:46

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