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Language, Literacy, and Culture Specialization

Who are we?

Faculty and students in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program focus on understanding how humans use language and literacy to understand and change their world. We are interested in the ways that children, adolescents, and adults learn literacy practices including reading, writing, speaking, and using images. We are also interested in how people use different forms of literacy to learn disciplinary knowledge in schools and to accomplish their out-of-school goals.

Our faculty believes culture is at the heart of school learning. We are committed to understanding the ways that culture shapes and is shaped by literacy practices in preK-12 classrooms and in students' home communities. With this research base, we are working with teachers to create culturally-responsive instructional environments that support literacy learning for all students. Our faculty and students conduct research in local and international settings and study literacy in classrooms, homes, community organizations, and online environments.

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What educational problems do we study?

  • Oral Language Learning and Use: How do children and adults use English and other languages to learn and interact with others in classrooms?
  • Early Literacy Learning: How do young children learn to read and write?
  • Learning through literacy: How do students use literacy to learn disciplinary knowledge in schools? How do students use literacy to learn in out-of-school contexts?
  • Connections between Language, Literacy, and Culture: How are language literacy practices shaped by culture?
  • Literacy and New Technologies: How are new technologies influencing literacy use and learning? How can new technologies be used by educators to support student and teacher learning?
  • Literacy Teaching: What are culturally responsive ways of teaching English and second language literacy in preK-12 schools?
  • Literacy Teachers: What do teachers understand and believe about literacy learning and teaching? What are effective practices for literacy teacher education?
  • Word learning, academic language, oral language, & literacy: What is the relationship between word learning, oral language, and literacy? How does this fit within current policy initiatives such as the Common Core? How does this relate to digital tools such as ebooks and apps? How do children and adolescents learn words? Do they learn them through play? Since academic language is dense with content-specific terms that are constructed from multiple units of meaning, such as activation, magnetism, equation, analytical, and thermosphere, how do children figure out the meanings of these words?

What is the program of study like for doctoral students in the LLC program?

The LLC program brings together scholarly traditions, contemporary research, and theory in literacy and cultural studies. Students and their faculty advisers create a personally tailored program of study that draws from course work related to sociocognitive and sociocultural aspects of literacy, research methods, and interdisciplinary interests supported by course work from other departments across the university.

Beginning in the first year, students engage in mentored research projects with faculty and other students. Students are supported throughout the program in conducting independent and collaborative research on literacy practices in and out of school. Academic presentation and writing skills are supported through Writers' Groups, and students are encouraged to attend and present at professional conferences with financial assistance from the Department of Teaching & Learning and the university.

What do LLC graduates do when they complete their doctoral work?

Graduates of our program take leadership roles in university, school, and community settings. In the past these have included:

  • University faculty positions as researchers and literacy teacher educators
  • District level administrators for preK-12 literacy programs
  • Administrative positions in educational foundations