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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bridging the gap between traditional and new literacies for students with learning disabilities Arndt, Kendra G.


Using a qualitative case study design this thesis looks at literacy and the visual-verbal relationship. I describe the ways in which a child in grade three, formally diagnosed through standardized testing as having a writing learning disability, engages in new literacy practices in his home context. Data were collected via field notes, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and digital photographs of artifacts. The theoretical frameworks that influenced this study were Vygotsky's social constructionist theory, the theory of new literacies, Gunther Kress’s theory of multimodality, and the New London Group's multiliteracies pedagogy. The artifacts I documented and collected were analyzed using multimodality analysis, as I adapted from Gillian Rose's visual methodology approach. The focus is on the role of image and the ways the participant incorporated drawings and computer-generated visuals into his texts. The role of technology in his meaning-making and how it affects his identity construction and sense of agency is particularly noted and discussed. The overall aim is to inform current pedagogical practices and address a gap in the literature by focusing on a child who has a learning disability, yet who is superior in intelligence and gifted in other cognitive abilities, and to explore whether it is possible to bridge the gap between new literacy practices and traditional, school print-based ones. The findings reinforce current research on the importance of acknowledging and bringing into the classroom children's competencies with digital literacies from their out-of-school literacy practices. They also support the need to reassess current methods of teaching writing and to investigate the non-linear qualities in children's multimodal text-making. A final intent of this study is that it will raise awareness of addressing the needs of students who are marginalized in the classroom and how a multimodal and multiliteracies approach may support not only cultural diversity, but also learner diversity.

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