Documenting the Life Stories and Literacy Practices of Immigrant and Ethnically Diverse Youth

January 10, 2018

Dr. Cheryl McLean has found that students use their literacy practices strategically based on what is accepted in different spaces. Using qualitative research and ethnographic research methods, Dr. McLean conducts research that documents the life stories, literacy practices, and accompanying texts and artifacts of immigrant and ethnically diverse youth and how they map onto identity construction. As the coordinator of the English Education program, Dr. McLean's work in teacher education focuses on issues of literacy, literature, and diversity in the contemporary English Language Arts (ELA) classroom.

Her research and teaching explore approaches to creating learning communities that better support the diverse learning styles, backgrounds, and interests of adolescent learners. Dr. McLean’s scholarship brings critical lenses to bear on issues around adolescent and youth literacy that involve two central research strands: culture and identity, and digital and multimodal literacy. Her research in adolescent literacy explores the intersection of practices (language, texts, and communicative tools), social contexts (where learning takes place — environments, communities, local-global, digital, and multimodal), culture and identity, and pedagogical instruction.

She has found that middle and high school students use digital texts to navigate their identities as learners as well as their socio-cultural identities by creating physical and virtual community spaces. Her research has empowered teachers to be more responsive to student needs so that they are able to acknowledge students’ identities as learners and broaden their instructional approaches to more meaningfully engage with the content presented to them.

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