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Exploring teachers' knowledge and practice of multiliteracies pedagogy: A narrative inquiry

Multiliteracies encapsulates literacy that is understood as deictic and plural. Furthermore, advances in digital technologies and digital spaces are encouraging the emergence of new literacy practices and new texts. This phenomenon presents teachers with the need to develop a repertoire of literacy pedagogical approaches that meets these demands. Against this background, this doctoral study sought to gain insights into the understanding, experiences and practices of teachers in their literacy teaching and learning. Underpinned by the theoretical frameworks of multiliteracies pedagogy and personal practical knowledge, this thesis provides an exploration of five teachers’ knowledge and conceptions of multiliteracies, and how they enact multiliteracies pedagogy in Aotearoa New Zealand intermediate classrooms. The participants varied in their backgrounds and years of teaching – ranging from three to ten years. By engaging a narrative inquiry methodology, qualitative data were collected over a period of six months, using narrative semi-structured interviews, whole-day classroom observations, post-observation conversations, and perusal of teaching artefacts. Participants shared their personal teaching philosophies, past and present literacy learning and teaching experiences, and their literacy teaching practices. Within this, they narrated the mentoring support and professional development they received within their schools, student cultural, linguistic and learning diversity, and the integration of digital technologies. Engaging with narrative inquiry has allowed for in-depth insights into teachers’ lived experiences and uncovered the nuances of their literacy knowledge and teaching practices. Based on data analysis which involved a co-construction of the teachers’ narratives and my researcher interpretation, it can be concluded that teachers understand and practise multiliteracies pedagogy instinctively. This includes having an understanding of the broad nature of literacy and texts, and their efforts in attending to student diversity and literacy learning needs. Findings also reveal that the teachers’ literacy teaching practices are guided by the components of their personal practical knowledge such as knowledge of curriculum and students, and through the use of digital technologies. The results suggest favourable opportunities for an explicit practice of multiliteracies pedagogy that will accommodate the growing range of literacy, literacy practices, and new texts. On this basis, recommendations for teachers’ professional development providers, teacher education designers, and researchers are suggested. Primarily, this study recommends adopting a constructivist approach to support teachers toward a purposeful and conscious teaching of synaesthesia or the manipulation of modes, and the semiotic functions of texts. Additionally, future research may consider: i) engaging longitudinal narrative research to examine teachers’ understanding of students’ understanding of literacy and out-of-school literacy practices; and ii) examine ways to support teachers’ use of digital technologies in a way that encourage explicit multiliteracies teaching and learning. Attending to these aspects may help complement present literacy teaching and learning and prepare students for the multiliterate demands of personal lives, workplaces and societies.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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