Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

James King, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jenifer J. Schneider, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Yendol-Hoppey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Emanuel Donchin, Ph.D.


dyslexia, gifted, literacy, marginalized learners, multimodal, pre-service teachers


This dissertation is a compilation of research and theoretical papers based on the affordances of multimodal literacies for marginalized learners and for pre-service teachers’ developing conceptualizations of literacy. Through a transdisciplinary lens, the author considers complex issues presented in traditional, print-based learning environments that potentially marginalize learners in their developing abilities to become successful participants in the multiple literacies in the real world.

Three studies focus on pre-service teachers and their developing understanding of effective literacy-related classroom practices. Chapter Three explores potential affordances of a multimodal learning environment for pre-service teachers with self-identified reading difficulties. The phenomenological study highlights differing needs of pre-service teachers with reading difficulties as they navigate the meaning-making process within a literacy methods course. Further, it provides tangible examples of the interplay between neurocognitive mechanisms and the social and cultural factors students face as they work within a variety of modal platforms. Through a qualitative case study, Chapters Eight and Nine explore the ways multimodal learning experiences within a literacy methods course influenced pre-service teachers’ literacy identities and how their developing identities translated into classroom pedagogical decisions. Chapter Nine proposes a framework for understanding pre-service teachers’ developing literacy identities.

Chapters Five and Six explore the needs of learners marginalized in traditional, print- based classrooms through a critical and theoretical lens. Chapter Five explores the authentic literacy practices of the author’s son, who is identified as a talented learner, yet unmotivated in the traditional classroom setting. She argues traditional conceptualizations of literacy as reliant on print forms of text are outdated and unresponsive to the dynamic changes of the 21st century. Further, the author argues the lack of responsiveness to dynamic and multimodal characteristics of the globalized world contribute to the perceived lack of motivation talented boys demonstrate in school-based literacy spaces. Chapter Six provides a review the literature on the “functional circuitry of the reading brain” (Schlaggar & McCandliss, 2007), and it reviews neuroscientific studies of individuals with developmental dyslexia (Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003), which provide evidence for amodal sluggish attentional shifting (SAS) as a causal factor for amodal temporal processing deficits.

The author provides autoethnographic vignettes between research and theoretical papers, serving as insight into the author’s journey in her own literacy identity development. While chapters following each vignette utilize a variety of qualitative methodologies and review empirical research, the author’s goal is to take the reader on a journey as she weaves together her work as a literacy researcher and educator. Ultimately, the author’s intention is to evoke both emotion and greater understanding about what it means to be literate in our dynamic society.