Date of Award

Summer 2008

Access Restriction

Campus Access only dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education

Department

Education

School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Marta Baltadano, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ignacio Higareda, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Edmundo F. Litton, Ed.D.

Abstract

This action research study explored if changes in the reading curriculum, specifically implementation of critical literacy approaches that acknowledge bicultural students, increase student learning as perceived by teachers and students in a Catholic elementary school, where students have been chronically performing at the lowest level in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. By using critical pedagogy (Darder, 1991; Freire, 1970; Giroux, 1983; Macedo, 1994; McLaren, 1988) as a theoretical framework, this action research project investigated the effective elements of critical literacy (Cadiero-Kaplan, 2004; Shor & Pari, 1999) that promote academic learning for Latino middle school students in a low-income Catholic elementary school.

This study explored the approaches and perceptions of novel studies, as a form of literacy, to increase student learning in reading at a low-income, urban, Catholic elementary school. Classroom observations, teacher interviews, teacher lesson plans, student work, student focus groups, and a teacher focus group validated the findings that critical literacy approaches positively impacted student learning in reading.

Changes in the school and reading curriculum, specifically the implementation of literacy approaches that acknowledge bicultural students, increased learning for Latino middle school students as perceived by teachers and students in this low-income, urban Catholic elementary school. Teachers implemented effective elements of critical literacy, including direct vocabulary and grammar instruction, analysis of literary tools, incorporation of Spanish, varying forms of assessment, and inclusion of student voice, through the use of novel studies. The school and classroom environments further promoted academic learning for Latino middle school students with high expectations, strict humor, and predictability where teachers, who viewed their students with promising futures, taught as a form of service. Although the school and teachers incorporated literacy practices, teachers fell short of practicing critical literacy because they failed to examine the underlying social ramifications of hegemonic forces.

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