Date on Senior Honors Thesis

5-2017

Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.A.

Department

English

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

critical literacy pedagogy; grammar instruction; high-stakes testing

Abstract

As the United States of America becomes increasingly diverse, there is a need for teachers to embrace multiculturalism within the classroom. Shifting away from the traditional “banking model” of teaching, educational researchers call for a more critical approach—one in which teachers and students challenge dominant beliefs and practices of education. Foregrounded in those aims of cultural competence and critical consciousness, “critical literacy pedagogy” addresses the politicization of literacy education and employs conscious curriculum and teaching strategies to empower marginalized voices. Although a number of case studies on critical literacy pedagogy show considerable promise in disrupting dominant discourse and developing cultural understanding, there has been little research on how high-stakes testing affects the teacher’s practice of critical literacy. This qualitative case study explored how a teacher implemented critical literacy pedagogy in an 11th grade English Language Arts classroom. Findings revealed that the teacher was restricted in consistently teaching from a critical literacy perspective as the pressures of high-stakes testing required more emphasis on grammar instruction. This study not only illustrates critical literacy as multifaceted, presenting several strategies for English teachers to exercise the pedagogy, but also points to the challenges in negotiating high-stakes testing and the representations of social power through language and literature.

Lay Summary

As the United States of America becomes increasingly diverse, there is a need for teachers to embrace multiculturalism within the classroom. Shifting away from the traditional “banking model” of teaching, educational researchers call for a more critical approach—one in which teachers and students challenge dominant beliefs and practices of education. Foregrounded in those aims of cultural competence and critical consciousness, “critical literacy pedagogy” addresses the politicization of literacy education and employs conscious curriculum and teaching strategies to empower marginalized voices. Although a number of case studies on critical literacy pedagogy show considerable promise in disrupting dominant discourse and developing cultural understanding, there has been little research on how high-stakes, standardized testing affects the teacher’s practice of critical literacy. This qualitative case study explored how a teacher implemented critical literacy pedagogy in an 11th grade English Language Arts classroom and the pressures of high-stakes testing in practice.