Theses Doctoral

Competing Stories of School and Community "Improvement”: Youth of Color's critical literacies and storytelling practices in a high school writing class

DeLuca, Kelly M.

This practitioner research study uses qualitative data collection and analysis methods to explore student engagement with critical and multimodal literacy curriculum in the context of a writing course focused on storytelling. This research addresses the issue of deficit framing in schools serving Youths of Color and the negative characterizations that lead to assumptions about their learning capability based upon their racialized identity. As a result of these deficit discourses, Youths of Color are often positioned as at risk by educators, an assumption which often results in schools that lack intellectually robust and culturally relevant learning opportunities.

In an effort to surface and disrupt deficit discourses, I looked to literacy theories such as critical, multimodal, and community literacies, which seek to expand the literacies valued in schools serving youth of color. To frame my inquiry, I asked:
(1) What are students’ perspectives and inquiries regarding race, class, gender, and other social framings, and how do these change over time? and (2) How does this research inform my growing understanding of what it means to teach well? Over the course of one school year, I engaged with a group of 10 students in a school labeled as “in need of improvement” in a critically focused, multimodal storytelling curriculum designed to allow student interest and engagement with social issues as a guide for planning learning experiences.

By collecting and analyzing student artifacts, discussion transcripts, interview data, and correspondence surrounding critical incidents over the course of the school year, I found that students used storytelling practices to critique social issues in both the surrounding city and the school community, displaying a plethora of Community Cultural Wealth which disrupts assumptions about Youths of Color. Despite this evidence of student Cultural Wealth, I found that the school culture was not a Culturally Sustaining atmosphere due to the over-reliance on compliance to district reform plans strictly aligned to discourses of standardization and accountability. These findings bridge the theory practice gap to help inform administrators, educators, and researchers alike by displaying the extensive daily effects societal education discourses have on students’ day-to-day educational experiences.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 19, 2019