UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Affordances and recontextualizations : a multiple-case study of young children's engagement in information literacy practices in school and out-of-school contexts McTavish, Marianne Emily


Students’ future worlds will require the use of conventional print literacies and new multiliteracies in order to access and construct information that requires print, electronic and face-to face interactions within private and public economic sectors, and within local and global corporate worlds (Luke, 1998). Research has called for a new understanding of literacy and literacy teaching and learning to account for the context of our culturally and linguistically diverse and increasingly globalized societies, and to account for the burgeoning variety of text forms associated with information and multimedia technologies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003a). Drawing on a sociocultural theory of literacy learning situated in particular contexts, this qualitative multiple-case study examines the school and out-of-school contexts of four second-grade children. It focuses on the ways in which these contexts afforded and constrained opportunities for the children to engage in, appropriate, and recontextualize information literacy (IL) practices. Findings show that despite similar constraining factors in both contexts (i.e., press of time, perceived needs, access to informational texts, and disruptions and interruptions), the out-of-school contexts offered the children greater and more diverse opportunities for engagement than did the school context. Further, findings show that the children’s school IL practices crossed to out-of-school contexts where the children embedded and changed them in flexible, playful, and contemporary ways that enhanced their IL development. Although the children tried to transfer the practices and genres back in the classroom, these attempts were largely ignored unless they fit with the practices upheld by the school. The study offers new knowledge of how school literacy may impact some children’s out-of-school literacies. It provides implications for teachers, parents and curriculum writers in conceiving IL as social practice and in recognizing the role of out-of-school contexts as spaces to construct meaning. It also suggests that attempts to bring the literacy practices from children’s out-of-school lives to the school context for purposes of literacy instruction may be misguided; rather, it may be more realistic to concentrate efforts on supporting those out-of-school contexts that enable children to recontextualize school practices for a wider and more global use.

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