Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Kelly Chandler-Olcott


critical inquiry, critical literacy, inquiry learning, narrative inquiry, practitioner inquiry, teacher research

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This dissertation presents findings from 10 months of practitioner inquiry (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993, 2009) using qualitative data collection and analysis. Informed by communities of practice theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and critical literacy theory (Luke, 2000; Janks, 2010; Comber, 2016), the study asked the following research questions: 1) What characterizes a classroom learning community designed to support adolescents' experiences with inquiry learning? 2) In what ways do adolescents practice critical literacies when engaged with inquiry learning? and, 3) What roles do teachers navigate when working with adolescents developing critical literacies through inquiry learning? The study took place in an elective course co-designed by an English teacher and a librarian to support 12th grade students in developing their research skills. Data sources included semi-structured interviews, weekly memos, teaching artifacts and student work samples, emails, text messages, photos, and videos. Analysis and writing were informed by narrative inquiry (Schaafsma & Vinz, 2011). Findings demonstrated that students experienced various levels of confluence in developing their inquiry literacies and critical literacies when engaged in work designed to address both skill sets. Findings suggest implications for members of school communities working to develop opportunities in the curriculum for inquiry learning and critical literacy, for teacher researchers designing future practitioner inquiry research projects, and for teacher educators working with pre-service English teachers.


Open Access