Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Amy Wilson-Lopez


Amy Wilson-Lopez


Sylvia Read


Susan Turner


Kathleen A. J. Mohr


Sonia Manuel-Dupont


The achievement gap has long been viewed as a persistent shortcoming of the public education system in the U.S. The achievement gap also highlights the challenges faced by Latino populations with educational achievements and future employment prospects. The purpose of this multiple-case study was to describe how four Latina adolescents, each of whom identified herself as a struggling or “not good” reader, reauthored their reading identities by acting as reading tutors to elementary students. This study combined elements of narrative inquiry with multiple case study research. The four participants—Paula, Lucia, Cassandra, and Amaia (all names are pseudonyms)—were selected from a cross-age tutoring program for Latino youth called Latinos in Action located in the state of Utah. As part of this class, ninth-graders received training on how to provide tutoring in reading to elementary students, and they tutored elementary students twice per week for 30 minutes.

The participants underwent 6 months of tutoring. Prior to tutoring, the participants were interviewed to ascertain how their reader identities had developed through adolescence. Subsequent interviews with the participants, teachers, and family members, in addition to observed tutoring sessions, illustrated ways that tutoring provided an avenue for the participants to re-author their reader identities. Using these data, I worked with participants to develop narratives regarding their reading experiences and identities. I used an a priori Bakhtinian framework to explain what I viewed in the narratives, with conclusions confirmed by each participant. Finally, I used constant comparative analytic methods to identify common themes across the participants’ stories.

From the analysis, I identified five major themes as the findings of this study: examples at home, school as authoritative, fluent oral reading in English, reading aloud in tutoring, and changes in reading practices. The process of tutoring younger students provided a place, within the authoritative space of the school setting, where the participants were able to practice this skill. The results of this study indicated that educators and policy makers can look to cross-age tutoring as one method to provide adolescent, struggling readers with opportunities to positively adjust their reader identities.



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