“Don’t Step on Each Other’s Words”: Aboriginal Children in Legitimate Peripheral Participation With Multiliteracies

  • Author / Creator
    Brice, Melanie Allison
  • This study is an examination of the multiple literacy practices of four Aboriginal children in a Western Canadian prairie urban classroom. It is framed using sociocultural theory that posits that the literacy learning of children occurs in a social environment through a co-constructed, culturally relevant landscape. The purpose of this study was to explore how First Nations and Métis children whose teachers had identified them as successful readers, used multiliteracies to support their reading in an elementary language arts classroom. This research drew on the work of sociocultural learning theorists Lave and Wenger (1991) and their concepts of community of practice and legitimated peripheral participation, and Moll et al.’s (1992) concept of funds of knowledge. Statistics show an increasing literacy gap between Aboriginal students and other Canadian students, and there is an abundance of research on school failure and deficit language and literacy learning. However, Aboriginal children come to school with a great deal of knowledge and experience with different literacies, technology, and use language in ways that help them to successfully navigate school literacy. Therefore, the following research questions guided an exploration of the ways that the focal children used language, the knowledge and experiences that they brought with them into the classroom, and how they participated in literacy practices: (a) How did the funds of knowledge that the participants brought into the classroom support their literacy practices in the English language arts (ELA) classroom? (b) How the Aboriginal children’s oral language support their reading? and (c) How did the Aboriginal children in a classroom community participate as legitimate peripheral participants in reading while integrating multiliteracies? The researcher investigated these questions by using interpretive case study methodology and collecting data by observing and interviewing the participants and collecting student- and teacher-created artifacts. This research adds to the field of literacy learning and teaching because it demonstrates the importance of multiliteracies as a means of including diverse voices, texts, and cultures in school literacy. The use of multiliteracies creates a bridge between home and school literacy by giving minority children who might not have access to privileged forms of literacy a means of acquiring school literacy. Multiliteracies bring Aboriginal perspectives into literacy learning and validate the knowledge and experiences that Aboriginal children and youth bring to school. This research also addressed the application of Rosenblatt’s (1978/1994) reader response theory to all texts, including digital. The implications for teacher practice are the need for educators to move away from deficit theories of learning and stop viewing the literacies that Aboriginal children bring to school as problematic. Instead, educators need to provide spaces for Aboriginal children to talk about their lived experiences and acknowledge their knowledge as valid and valuable so that they can flourish.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.