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Functions of Religious Literacy in Literary Discussions of National Board-Certified English Teachers

Olshefski, Christopher Alan (2022) Functions of Religious Literacy in Literary Discussions of National Board-Certified English Teachers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The overarching goal of this study was to understand how high school teachers and students respond to religious topics in English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms. Most ELA researchers believe literary discussions are important for both ELA learning as well as the establishment of democratic pluralistic principles. Scholars have also recently called for the examination of religion alongside other social categories in ELA instruction. Backed by theories and research from religious literacy scholarship, critical literacy, and literary literacy in ELA, this study examined literary discussion transcripts and teacher analyses of discussions from 101 National Board certification portfolios to examine what and how religions were represented across high school ELA classrooms. It also examined the different pedagogical functions that religion played in these teachers’ literary discussions. Quantitative analysis of the data indicated that talk about religion was recurrent but not always substantial. Religion was often discussed in general and Christian-centric ways. Qualitative analyses indicated that religious literacy functioned in literary discussions in four ways: 1) comprehending or appreciating cultural contexts; 2) examining texts through religious lenses; 3) drawing on personal religious experiences to connect to a text; and 4) examining religion in the world based on themes from a text. Implications of the study provide recommendations for teaching about religion in ELA contexts that can simultaneously support religious, literary, and critical literacies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Olshefski, Christopher Alancao48@pitt.educao480000-0002-2034-6098
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.edu0000-0002-0700-4587
Committee MemberJuzwik, Marymmjuzwik@msu.edu0000-0002-1327-0021
Committee MemberSkerrett, Allisonaskerrett@utexas.edu0000-0001-8130-2016
Committee MemberDavila,
Committee MemberRainey,
Date: 10 January 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 November 2021
Approval Date: 10 January 2022
Submission Date: 2 December 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 159
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: religious literacy, critical literacy, literary literacy, English Language Arts, literary discussions
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 18:17
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 18:17


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