Dr. Katherine Frankel and Dr. Susan Fields Publish Articles on Identity and Positioning in Adolescent Literacy Teaching and Learning

Wheelock College of Education & Human Development faculty member Dr. Katherine K. Frankel, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, and Wheelock alumna Dr. Susan S. Fields, Visiting Assistant Professor of Reading and Literacy Education at Texas A&M University, recently published two articles on the topics of adolescent literacy, identity, and positioning.

One of the articles, “Disrupting Storylines: A Case Study of One Adolescent’s Identity, Agency, and Positioning During Literacy Tutoring,” was published online in Literacy Research and Instruction in April 2019 (DOI: 10.1080/19388071.2019.1588437).

Article abstract: Despite evidence that youths’ literacy practices and identities are important contributors to literacy learning, studies of secondary literacy instruction often focus on understanding classroom storylines from the perspectives of teachers and schools. The purpose of this case study was to examine how one youth, Leo, shaped the storyline of his one-on-one literacy tutorials by attending to his deviations from his tutor’s storyline. Framed by theories of identity, agency, and positioning, findings indicate that deviations were acts of agency that manifested as collaborative authoring or improvisation and provided insights about Leo as a reader, writer, and person. Findings highlight the situated and collaborative nature of meaning-making and the importance of theoretically grounded literacy instruction that attends to how students negotiate their positions in relation to teachers’ storylines.

Click here to access a limited supply of full-text copies of this article!

The second article, co-authored with two other colleagues, is “Positioning Adolescents in Literacy Teaching and Learning.” This article was published in Journal of Literacy Research in December 2018 (Volume 50, Issue 4, pp. 446-477; DOI: 10.1177/1086296X18802441).

Article abstract: Secondary literacy instruction often happens to adolescents rather than with them. To disrupt this trend, we collaborated with 12th-grade “literacy mentors” to reimagine literacy teaching and learning with 10th-grade mentees in a public high school classroom. We used positioning theory as an analytic tool to (a) understand how mentors positioned themselves and how we positioned them and (b) examine the literacy practices that enabled and constrained the mentor position. We found that our positioning of mentors as collaborators was taken up in different and sometimes unexpected ways as a result of the multiple positions available to them and institutional-level factors that shaped what literacy practices were and were not negotiable. We argue that future collaborations with youth must account for the rights and duties of all members of a classroom community, including how those rights and duties intersect, merge, or come into conflict within and across practices.

Grace Hagerty