Theses Doctoral

A Netnography of Posts on Literacy Assessment in a Publishing Company’s Social Media Group for Teachers: The Plurality of Potential in Neoliberal Times

Jenkins, Joshua David

This research study was a netnographic exploration of teachers’ attitudes and perspectives regarding running records, a ubiquitous literacy assessment in many elementary classrooms. As education reform centers testing and excessive forms of accountability, the running record, designed as a qualitative teaching tool, has instead entered the ranks as a standardized assessment tool, leading to a narrow view of literacy and reductive discourses of reading and readers. Pre-packaged materials saturate the curriculum, and professional learning within schools is centered around training for materials rather than teacher learning. As such, teachers use social media communities to pursue their own learning needs and to collaborate and connect with other teachers.

By exploring one such social media group on Facebook, this study employed a discourse theory and queer theory lens to investigate the ways in which teachers take up discussions of running records and how those discussions circulated dominate discourses of schooling, situated within the broader context of neoliberal education politics. The social media group was observed May to December 2022, and I observed 240 posts in the group pertaining to running records. Data analysis included both topic analysis and discourse analysis. Teachers discussed a wide range of topics regarding running records within the group. Queries about how to administer running records were most frequent, which highlighted the de-professionalization of teachers and the framing of teachers as followers of manuals. Questions about customer service for curricular products were also among the most frequent, which highlighted the role capitalism plays as a force in neoliberal education policy and its influence on standardization. Throughout teachers’ posts and the ensuing comments on posts, a discourse analysis of many posts revealed the stealthy ways in which dominant discourses of education circulate in common language throughout the group.

This study adds to the still nascent body of research on teacher learning on social media as well as the body of research on teacher education and the field of literacy. Teacher educators, facilitators of professional development, and school and district leaders should be mindful and planful for the reality that many teachers will look for community and “professional learning” on social media. Additionally, they should leverage these opportunities while simultaneously designing learning experiences for teachers that build capacity in teachers rather than assuming teachers lack knowledge and “need training.” Education researchers and state and district leaders should continue to mine social media to further examine teachers and their perspectives on literacy education as it offers windows into the issues teachers are facing and may offer guidance on how to support teachers and their students.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Siegel, Marjorie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2022