Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Elementary, Middle & Secondary Teacher Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Flint, Amy Seely

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Chisholm, James

Committee Member

Chisholm, James

Committee Member

Whitmore, Kathryn F.

Committee Member

Olinger, Andrea

Author's Keywords

voice; children's literature; higher education; identity; disruptions; meaning making


Voice is a concept that is both highly sought after and elusive in education. While schools aim to foster students’ voices, many academic structures inadvertently conceal their voices and in turn their identities. Definitions of voice have been assumed, vague, or looked at as a writing trait, with little consideration of voices’ dynamic and mediated structures. Drawing on scholarship grounded in sociocultural theories and dialogism (e.g., Bakhtin, 1986; Engeström; 1987, Leont’ev, 1981; Rosenblatt, 1978; Vygotsky, 1978), I contribute a new, tangible definition of voice, in which voice is a dynamic happening, continually negotiated and constructed. This dissertation explores students’ voices, advancing theoretical and empirical approaches to studying voice. Specifically, this study examines how undergraduates manifest their voices and how their voices shift in a children’s literature course. Through qualitative analyses of students’ academic writing, discussions, and reflections I illuminate various resources and structures students employed when manifesting their voice. I describe how students’ voice shifts due to disruptions—events that create instability to students’ predominant way of thinking in a given context. Additionally, I illustrate factors that both conceal and contribute to students’ voices in academic settings, such as students’ racial and gendered identities, group dynamics, and students’ desire to be seen as knowledgeable. This dissertation argues for classrooms to engage students in routine dialogic interaction to expand students’ voices, and to consider the implications students’ racial and gendered identities have on the production of their voices.