Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Mallette, Marla

Abstract

Despite varying perceptions and indicators of risk, some children and adolescents labeled at risk are successful in academic endeavors and in life and could be characterized as resilient (Barone, 1999, 2004; Benard, 2004; Waxman, Padron, & Gray, 2004; Wolin & Wolin, 1993). Using a multiple case study design, the purpose of this study was to explore literacy habits and everyday experiences of three African American, female adolescents, who were labeled at risk, yet displayed resilience. Data were collected throughout their senior year of high school, both inside and outside of school, and included observations, interviews, and document analysis. Data collection and analysis were grounded in a social theoretical framework, comprising theories of adolescent literacy, resilience, and identity. Analysis of the individual cases contextualized their unique experiences providing an in-depth understanding of the ways in which the participants enacted their resilient identities. Further, this analysis revealed the complex nature of literacy in their lives and their tremendous literacy growth. The cross case analysis examined overarching themes found across the three participants, which provided a more holistic lens for understanding resilience and literacy by juxtaposing their resilient characteristics and literacy practices with their lived experiences. The findings are discussed, and implications for educators and researchers are provided in an effort to better understand and serve students with at-risk labels.

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