Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Department name when degree awarded

Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Amy Wilson-Lopez


Amy Wilson-Lopez


Sylvia Read


Susan Turner


Kathleen A. J. Mohr


Sonia Manuel-Dupont


Educators and policy makers have shown a consistent concern over the achievement gap. In academic assessments, Latino students have demonstrated lower achievement than their peers, particularly in reading scores. Many researchers attribute the existence of the achievement gap to a school system that ignores Latino culture or perpetuates struggles in Latino students’ reading by being culturally insensitive. Multiple theorists suggest that school systems that better understand Latino identities will be better at instructing Latino students. Many programs, including Latinos in Action, have been implemented in attempts to close this gap. The Latinos in Action program utilizes Latino adolescents as peer tutors for struggling readers in nearby elementary schools.

A Bakhtinian framework was used as the interpretive lens where internal positions, external positions, and communal voices enter dialogues that influence the internalized identity development of the individual. In accordance with this framework, identity was viewed as an array of identities, not a single, concrete aspect of the individual. The purpose of this study was to identify ways in which Latina adolescents, who identified as “struggling” or “not good” in some aspects of their reading, adjusted their reader identities after participating in cross-age tutoring in reading. The study used a combination of narrative inquiry and multiple case-study methods to access how the participants had developed their reader identities over time and to compare the influences across cases. Multiple interviews and observations with the participants, family members, and their teacher comprised most of the data that informed the results of this study.

This study identified multiple ways that the school system influenced the reader identities of the participants as an authoritative discourse for the participants’ reader identities. For example, the participants shared experiences from school that emphasized fluent oral reading. The participants identified many positive and negative experiences when reading aloud at school. For the most part, they felt anxious and self-conscious when reading aloud in front of their peers for fear of making mistakes or mispronouncing words. This emphasis on fluent oral reading also became one of the most important factors in how the participants viewed themselves as readers. Tutoring was found to provide a positive space where fluent oral reading was practiced by the participants and their tutees, which in turn positioned the adolescent reader as an example of good reading and reduced anxiety over reading out loud in front of others.



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