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Middle School Students' Use of Cognitive and Sociocultural Resources During an Examination of a Contested Topic in a Digital Space

Han, Hyeju (2021) Middle School Students' Use of Cognitive and Sociocultural Resources During an Examination of a Contested Topic in a Digital Space. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation research is a small-scale qualitative study that focuses on middle school students’ use of cognitive and sociocultural resources while they investigate a contested topic in a digital space. This study is informed by multiple theories and studies of reading and literacy from both cognitive and sociocultural perspectives. To closely examine students’ digital literacy practices, I brought qualitative approaches to student-generated verbal protocols to identify and interpret readers’ cognitive, affective and emotional processes, responses and thoughts. I selected a public charter middle school in an urban setting as a research site and recruited eight eighth-grade students, all of whom were Black girls. The participating students engaged in two online digital literacy tasks (pre-selected source reading and online reading inquiry) and one writing task (writing social media posts). The tasks centered on a current social issue that is of particular local importance: gentrification. The findings of this study revealed that the students activated a variety of resources during critical digital literacy tasks, coordinated those resources in three dimensions of literacy practice in a digital space (cognitive–constructivist, sociocultural–critical, and multimodal–digital), and acted as text critics and activists through the interplay of various resources. In particular, even those students who might be considered effortful readers took critical stances when they wrote a social media post. These results provide further evidence for the move away from decontextualized literacy instruction and assessment and toward approaches that would honor and build upon the many sociocultural resources that young people bring to literacy classrooms, including their knowledge of social media and virtual modes of communication.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Han, Hyejuhyh5@pitt.eduhyh5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRainey,
Committee MemberCho,
Committee MemberKucan,
Committee MemberGodley,
Committee MemberPrice-Dennis,
Date: 31 August 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 June 2021
Approval Date: 31 August 2021
Submission Date: 26 July 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 245
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: adolescent literacy, critical digital literacy, resource-based approaches
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2021 17:38
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 17:38


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