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How Sponsors Influence Students' Writing Practices in an Eighth Grade English Language Arts Classroom

Loretto, Adam (2015) How Sponsors Influence Students' Writing Practices in an Eighth Grade English Language Arts Classroom. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Writing instruction in schools is taking on increasingly narrow focuses, which reflects reliance on high-stakes standardized tests and standards movements that privilege some forms of writing over others. Researchers in writing have called for studies that connect macro forces influencing the educational environment to the instruction occurring at the classroom level. This study does so by exploring how a teacher sponsors multiple writing literacies across time and how and why students take up those writing practices for their intended uses and in ways that serve their own purposes. I examine the writing instruction of one skilled English Language Arts teacher through the lens of Deborah Brandt’s theory of sponsors of literacy (1998; 2009) and through sociocultural theories of writing (Prior, 2004, 2006; Englert, Mariage, & Dunsmore, 2006) and identity (Davies & Harré, 1999; Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). Data drew from a) five months of observations in the classroom across multiple units of instruction marked by multiple writing practices; b) interviews with the teacher before and after the observation period; and c) interviews with five focal students at the end of the observation period. Findings suggest that the teacher’s instruction reflected a variety of sponsors across multiple writing practices. The teacher’s instruction highlighted the skills, values, and purposes associated with sponsored writing practices. Students appropriated some writing practices more than others, and some more faithfully to the intentions of sponsors than others. Students imagined a range of possible uses for the writing practices in which they were sponsored, reflective of their individual literate identities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Loretto, Adamajl67@pitt.eduAJL67
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Committee MemberForman, Elliceellice@pitt.eduELLICE
Committee MemberPabon, Amberapabon@pitt.eduAPABON
Committee MemberKiesling, Scott F.Kiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Date: 22 May 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 April 2015
Approval Date: 22 May 2015
Submission Date: 12 April 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 198
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: writing instruction, sponsorship, literate identities, middle-level instruction
Date Deposited: 22 May 2015 14:26
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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