Secondary English teachers' perspectives on the incorporation of new literacies in their pedagogy

Elizabeth Lewis, Syracuse University

Abstract

This collective case study examines how four secondary English teachers in the English department at one suburban high school in the northeast United States perceive and address new literacies in their pedagogy. The rationale for the study was based on the lack of research considering secondary English teachers' perspectives on the incorporation of new literacies in their pedagogy.

The secondary English teachers who participated in this study were part of a larger pool of sixteen individuals who participated in a previous pilot study at the same site. These four teachers each represented a single quadrant of a two-by-two matrix, modeled after one used by Hinchman and Lalik (2002), juxtaposing two characteristics: level of tech-savviness and level of comfort addressing new literacies in pedagogy .

The theoretical framework for this study included sociocultural theories of literacy (cf., Gee, 2001, 2008; New London Group, 1996) and theories related to new literacies (cf., Lankshear & Knobel, 2003, 2007; Leu et al., 2004), focusing on multimodality and multiliteracies. Multiple definitions of new literacies are explored and include literacy practices related to (1) new technologies, and (2) making meaning from texts other than print-based texts. Data were collected over a five month period and included field notes of in-school classroom observations and informal discussions with participants; formal one-on-one interviews; email correspondence; and reflective journal responses.

Data were analyzed through grounded theory and collective case study methods. Several themes emerged from data analysis and include: (1) the presence and use of information communication technologies (ICTs) in participants' personal lives seemed to influence if and how they considered addressing new literacies in their pedagogy; (2) the environments of home, work, and the larger community of which the school district is a part appeared to influence participants' decisions to address new literacies in their pedagogy; and (3) though participants seemed to define the term new literacies differently over the course of the study, and sometimes differently from each other, they acknowledged the presence of new literacies and new technologies in their students' lives and reported feeling a responsibility to address both in their pedagogy to varying degrees. Implications for practice and future research based on these findings are discussed.