Defining Literacy: How Basic Writers Define and are Defined by Literacy

Defining Literacy: How Basic Writers Define and are Defined by Literacy

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Responding to the call for more student present research in Basic Writing scholarship, this study examines the ways in which 33 Basic Writing students at a large intermountain western state college define literacy and how those definitions, in turn, define them. Grounded in methodological commitments to educational linguistic anthropology, critical feminist research, and teacher-researcher research, this study uses Critical Discourse Analysis and interactional narrative analysis techniques to examine a variety of student texts, including multiple drafts of students' personal literacy narratives, reflective journal entries, educational history questionnaires, autobiographical sketches, and interviews. Findings of the study suggest that students' definitions of literacy are overwhelmingly consistent with the qautonomous modelq of literacy and that this reliance both constrains and makes possible particular subject positions in relation to literacy. The data also show that students' recollections of teachers' oral and written assessments of their literacy---particularly negative assessments, if not disrupted---contribute to a qthickeningq of deficit literacy and educational subjectivities in ways that have dramatic and potentially life-altering consequences. The findings of the study suggest that providing opportunities (through certain assignments and interviewing techniques) for students to disrupt some of this qthickeningq process by not only representing but enacting alternate positions may allow them to challenge deficit-ridden descriptions of their own literacies. By involving students at the level of co-researchers, this study makes valuable contributions to Basic Writing and socioliteracy scholarship and holds important implications for how scholars theorize and research literacy and how educators teach and assess literacy.At the end of the course, in her final in-class essay, Joni expressed a similar idea: I think doing this paper was a good idea ... Rosea#39;s narrative and by the assignment itself, but through the experience of aquot;reassemblingaquot; her past literacy events, anbsp;...

Title:Defining Literacy: How Basic Writers Define and are Defined by Literacy
Author: Deborah Kathleen Marrott
Publisher:ProQuest - 2008

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