Using Metaphor Analysis to Uncover Learners' Conceptualizations of Academic Literacies in Postsecondary Developmental Contexts

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Most first-year college students face some form of literacy obstacle as they make the transition into the culture of postsecondary education. This transition can be especially complicated for students who are placed into developmental literacy courses because successful negotiation of these courses is the only way for them to gain access to the various written discourses of academia and therefore become successful college readers and writers. With the growing prevalence of postsecondary developmental coursework, there is an ever-increasing urgency to investigate, reflect on, and discuss student learning in such courses and whether and how it affects their transitions to college-level reading and writing. This presentation will report on a dissertation-level study that investigated first-year college students' conceptualizations of academic literacy by employing metaphor analysis. As a research methodology, metaphor analysis allows researchers to examine students' elicited and spontaneously generated metaphors as a way of uncovering their conceptualizations, including attitudes, understandings, beliefs, and personal theories. The goal of this presentation is to initiate a dialogue about the similarities and differences between student and educator conceptualizations of academic literacy.


Keywords: Metaphor Analysis, Learner Conceptualizations, Literacy Research, Developmental Education, Postsecondary Education
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Using Metaphor Analysis to Uncover Learners’ Conceptualizations of Academic Literacies in Postsecondary Developmental Contexts


Dr. Sonya L. Armstrong

Assistant Professor of Postsecondary Literacy and Director of the College Learning Enhancement Program, Department of Literacy Education, Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL, USA

Dr. Sonya L. Armstrong is a tenure-track faculty member teaching at Northern Illinois University in the Department of Literacy Education. Her pedagogical and research interest is postsecondary developmental literacy. Currently, she teaches developmental literacy courses for first-year college students and a graduate course, Principles and Methods of Teaching Postsecondary Reading, for current and future postsecondary educators. Dr. Armstrong also directs the College Learning Enhancement Program, the literacy component of Northern Illinois University's developmental program. Her research interests focus on student conceptualizations of academic literacies and the use of metaphor analysis in literacy research.

Ref: L08P0826