Student Associations


Student Associations

Faculty and students are active in local, national, and international professional organizations. Involvement includes the presentation of scholarship, membership on committees and editorial advisory boards, journal editorships, and service as program chairs and officers. Some of the organizations in which we are typically active include:

International Literacy Association
National Council of Teachers of English
American Educational Research Association
Modern Language Association
Iowa Reading Association
Holmes Scholars
Conference on College Composition and Communication
Watson Conference
Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum (UPenn)


Following are some of the graduate courses made available to LLC students in recent semesters:

Doctoral Level Courses

08N:355 The Ethnographic Essay

What do New Yorker profiles, folklore accounts, NPR broadcasts, and anthropological articles have in common?  This course explores the features of ethnographic essays by reading, researching, and writing them.  The ethnographic essay is cultural critique; the result of a relationship between what goes on in a culture and how it appears on paper.  And, of course, that relationship depends on the lenses and tools of the writer. We will engage in, as John Van Maanen writes, "the peculiar practice of representing the social reality of others through the analysis of one's own experience in the world of these others."

Specifically, you will experience brief ethnographic fieldwork: collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data—and engage in writing exercises designed to enhance the fieldwork process. You’ll develop a working sense of the form(s) of the ethnographic essay (distinguished from other essay forms: reminiscence, oral history, character sketch, travelogue, etc, by virtue of its cultural focus). You will read and hear others’ “readings” of recent published and unpublished experiments with such form--in journals, books, audio, and video.

As you develop a critical vocabulary to describe the features of ethnographic text--and your role as a researcher/writer—you will create a research portfolio. Most important, you’ll write your own ethnographic essay, as well as document your processes as you write--with a commentary, acknowledgments, and an annotated reference section.

EDTL:7070 Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Literacy Research

This course is a workshop in qualitative research methods, providing ongoing support throughout the process of designing a qualitative research proposal in preparation for dissertation research. Course readings explore a variety of methodological topics and issues, including traditional and more contemporary qualitative data collection and analysis. This course helps satisfy the College of Education qualitative research methodology requirement.

EDTL:7071 Critical Discourse Analysis

This course focuses on critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a method of data analysis in educational research and literacy studies. Broadly speaking, discourse analysts are interested in how discourse is used to structure social processes and institutions. The course begins with a general introduction to a variety of approaches to discourse analysis in order to provide students with a sense of the interdisciplinary nature of the field and its relationship to critical discourse analysis. CDA examines how social and power relations, identities, and knowledge are constructed through written, visual, and spoken texts in social settings such as schools, families, and communities. Course texts include both theoretical and methodological texts as well as examples of empirical studies that use CDA. The course provides a good deal of practice in CDA methods and addresses the usefulness and limitations of CDA in relation to more ethnographic approaches to educational research.

EDTL:7072 Advanced Methods of Literacy Research: Qualitative Data Analysis and Reporting

This course is an extension of the Introduction to Qualitative Methods of Literacy Research course (or other introduction to qualitative methods courses).  During the course, students will move toward decisions about methodology in their dissertations and be able to explain procedures as appropriate for a typical chapter three.  Students will also work toward a well-crafted description of a data analysis plan,  become able to converse knowledgeably about qualitative literacy research, including terminology, traditions, and scholars known for various approaches for analysis, increase in ability to critique research from an analysis and reporting point of view, as appropriate for the review of literature in a dissertation.

EDTL:7073 Ethnographic Methods, Theories, and Texts

"Ethnography" is not just a research method; it is its own written genre. It is both a post-modern critique and a paradigm for seeing how particular cultures construct their knowledge. This course/seminar offers both a practical and theoretical background for conducting ethnographic field studies in literacy, schooling, or language. We draw methods, methodologies, and perspectives from anthropology, sociology, folklore, literary criticism, feminist theory, composition theory, and fiction writing. We read ethnographies and view ethnographic films from education, folklore, sociology, anthropology and popular culture. We discuss the roles and responsibilities of writer, reader, and viewer, and informant. We use the ethnographer's tools and methods, and then experiment with the writer's techniques for rendering ethnographic text. Ethnographers cannot emerge in one semester, but we can try the methods, consider the theories, and read the texts. Readings draw from many fields including literature, composition theory, anthropology, sociology, education, psychology, and the fine arts. Students design or continue a research project, conduct fieldwork, keep a research portfolio, and write a book review.

EDTL:7380 Practicum in College Teaching

This practicum allows students to observe and assist a faculty member in the teaching of an undergraduate elementary or secondary teacher education course.

EDTL:7015 Ph.D. Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Culture
Topic: Research About Individuals Who Struggle with Literacy

This course focuses on research and theory related to people who struggle with reading, writing and other literacy tasks. We will take a broad approach, considering emergent to adult learners in and outside of formal education, with attention to the various factors that may contribute to designation as a “struggling reader” or “struggling literacy learner”—terms that we also will consider critically--and the consequences of this designation. These factors include but aren’t limited to reading performance on high stakes achievement measures; aptitude/achievement discrepancy; second language status; socioeconomic status; race; culture; individuals’ reading engagement, self concept, and sense of the value of literacy in their lives and futures; and a variety of factors related to the nature of instruction. Additional topics will include the consequences of this designation, policy considerations, and current ideas about effective practices. My intention is that we will consider various viewpoints critically and professionally with respect for the background knowledge and experience that all members bring to the seminar. We also will pay attention to the methods of research and argument-building and the nature of scholarly writing about this topic. After a  brief historical overview of thinking about the meanings of “literacy” and  “literacy competence,” we will learn about seminar members’ particular experiences with and interests in students to whom literacy does not come easily in and out of school settings so that these experiences and interests also can determine the nature of some course reading and projects.

EDTL:7015 Ph.D. Seminar in Language Literacy and Culture.
Topic: Representation and Identity in Literacy Studies

At the center of discussions of literacy and education as socio-cultural or discursive practices and products are questions of identity and representation. In this seminar participants will study the historical and theoretical developments that brought conceptions of identity and representation to the fore. Beginning with colonialism and Marxism, we will trace arguments in identity and representation to current theorists working from post-colonial, critical pedagogy, psychoanalytic, feminist and queer post-structural, and critical race positions to identify some of the differences in the ways these theories are applied in education today.

EDTL:7015 Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Culture
Topic: Foucault and Education

The purposes of this course are twofold: to read and discuss in depth the work of Michel Foucault (in English translation) and to then consider how Foucault's ideas may inform and be informed by theories and practices in education. We will pay particular attention to Foucault's notions of power and knowledge in relation to the field of education, schools, classroom life, and literacy issues. Given the tremendous impact of Foucault's work in multiple disciplines throughout the academe, I am working from the hypothesis that teaching ourselves to read Foucault can facilitate broader reading in a variety of disciplines, provide us with a language and knowledge base that allows for discussions with colleagues from other disciplines, and offer tremendous potential to influence our own readings and research within literacy and education.

EDTL:7015 Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Culture
Topic: Literacy Research: Theories for Adolescent and Adults

As literacy teachers and individuals interested in literacy, often our focus is taken up by the ways young children/youth become able and sophisticated literacy learners.  It is only on rare occasions that we stop to consider who our students will be as young and older adults using literacy to enhance their lives.  When we read aloud to second graders how often, if ever, do we pause to wonder how such literacy experiences are likely to transcend the years of their learning lives and influence the adult readers, writers, and language learners they become.

In this class, we will examine how adolescents and adults use literacy in their daily lives, in their families and in their communities.  We will examine multiple literacy contexts and the ways in which literacy serves adolescents and adults.  We will also examine issues of critical literacy in the work place, in the community and in the home.  We will learn more of adolescents and adults for whom literacy does not play a fundamental and sustaining role in their lives.  We’ll examine literacy both as a right and a responsibility.  We’ll examine culture, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and language as influences in the lives of adolescent and adult learners.  In a reflexive move back to our beginnings as learners, we’ll examine how literacy in families and across generations is constituted by adult learners.

EDTL:7015 Theoretical Perspectives on Literacy Research

This course focuses on theoretical perspectives that have informed socio-cultural research on literacy from the 1960s to present. The course begins with an overview of foundational debates in literacy studies that have social and political consequences. From there, the focus turns to the following theoretical frameworks: (1) Vygotskian and Neo-Vygotskian theory and cultural-historic activity theory; (2) Functional systemic linguistics and genre theory; (3) Dialogic theory; (4) New Literacy Studies and situativity; and (5) New media and multiliteracies. Course readings will include empirical studies informed by these theoretical perspectives. Like other fields, literacy studies is characterized by a continually emerging knowledge base informed by related and evolving theoretical frameworks. This course aims to help students understand the context within which each theoretical framework has developed, how each is situated within the field, and where the frameworks intersect and diverge.

Other Available Graduate Courses

EDTL:3393 Teaching Literature to Adolescents

In this course, we will be immersing ourselves in a range of literary texts at the same time that we are thinking through the multiple ways in which those texts and teachers and students interact with one another. Our goals will be to become familiar with ourselves as readers of literature, with the conventions that shape the ways literature is read and taught in school, and with the wide variety of literature intended for the young adult reader.

EDTL:4394 Methods High School Reading:

Reading, Writing, Thinking, and Response introduces students to current theories and asks you to enact them. We will practice the theories we read, and reconstruct them as we examine our practices. As teachers of reading in schools, it is crucial to think about ourselves as readers first, then about our students and their texts. In this course, we explore the idea that reading and writing are inextricably connected, that the word "text" has meaning that goes far beyond a commercially printed page. We consider the development of these ideas in light of the more traditional methods with which reading has been taught in schools. Schools not only teach and assess reading, but they also construct socio-political values about literacy. We will consider, problematize, and reconsider issues of race, class, gender, "ability," and "intelligence" in this course by investigating questions about the literary canon, conducting case studies of standardized reading tests, and "reading" alternative "languages." We will continually redefine what we mean by "literacy" and "text."

EDTL:6104 Children's Literature II
Reading Race and Gender in Children's and Young Adult Literature

This course focuses on race and gender as they are constructed through the dynamic interaction of readers, texts, and contexts. The texts used to examine this interaction are children's and young adult fiction. Readings and discussions focus on the following questions: (a) What positions and world views do readers take up in response to children's/YA fiction? (b) How does children's/YA fiction position readers according to naturalized versions of gender and race? (c) What are the qualities of texts that interrogate and revise these versions of gender and race? (d) How are textual meanings shaped by a reader's gender and race? (e) How do specific contexts-local and institutional-shape readers' interpretations of texts? (f) How might young readers learn to experience texts in multiple ways? These questions emerge from several assumptions: that reading and writing children's fiction are cultural practices with socializing and, at times, transformative functions; and that fictions are critical in shaping the life-narratives of groups and individuals.

EDTL:6164 Early literacy development and instruction

This course involves graduate students in the study of key issues of early literacy development, instruction, and authentic assessment, including the process through which children invent written language systems and concepts within social and cultural conventions. Through course readings and assignments, students become familiar with central concepts and significant theorists and researchers in the field. Students are expected to develop personal directions of inquiry for their professional growth and to be reflective about their development. Literacy development is regarded as a whole, including reading and writing, talking and listening.

EDTL:6167 Inquiry-Based Curriculum Development in Early Childhood and Elementary Classrooms

The focus for this graduate level course is curriculum development for children in early childhood and elementary classrooms. Students will develop a sound foundation of current theories and philosophies about curriculum that is based in children's interests and expands their knowledge through developmentally and culturally appropriate practices. The majority of the semester, students experience authentic learning in a student-selected topic; later they develop thematic, integrated curriculum for children around similar content. The course involves avid reading, discussion, and implementation of theory at a practical classroom level. The approach emphasizes the integrated, holistic and purposeful nature of learning. Multiculturalism and bilingualism are issues central to all course discussions.

EDTL:7008 Seminar: Research and Current Issues
Topic: Assessing reading and writing development

How can teachers construct literacy assessment programs that are theoretically consistent with holistic instruction and yet manageable? What assessment strategies enable a valid, strength-oriented view of students' reading and writing development and of the classroom literacy culture? How do these strategies mesh against district and national requirements? How can literacy assessment lead teachers to professional development and social action? In this course students work toward experiencing answers to these general questions and posing additional questions that are most relevant to local settings. The course combines theoretical reading with highly practical weekly assignments called assessment links so that a broad understanding of current assessment issues in literacy education is achieved while meeting pragmatic and realistic classroom objectives.

EDTL:7008 Seminar: Research and Current Issues.
Topic: Media Education and Popular Culture

This course is grounded in the premise that school definitions of literacy can usefully be expanded to consider the immense influence and importance of popular culture and the media in the lives of children and young adults. We will look beyond a view of children and adults as simply passive consumers of media to consider the possibilities that arise from understanding humans as being actively involved in constructing the meanings of their interactions with the media, whether they are viewing media texts or are themselves producing media texts. In this course, we will explore current issues in cultural studies and theory and practice of media education through readings, discussions, and hands-on activities. In addition to weekly readings, reflections and discussion, all students will be involved in learning the basics of digital film production and editing.

EDTL:6315/ ENGL:6315 M.A. Seminar in English Education

This discussion-centered course explores competing conceptions of literacy, and considers how the current school-reform climate often seems at odds with perspectives from our field. Students complete course projects centered on a topic or issue of particular interest. The course is open to Ph.D., MA and MAT students, and emphasizes school-based literacy learning for adolescents and adults.