The book detectives: metafictive devices and the development of critical literacy in year 3 students

PhD Thesis


Turner, Carmel Ann. 2020. The book detectives: metafictive devices and the development of critical literacy in year 3 students. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/JT8P-YN65
Title

The book detectives: metafictive devices and the development of critical literacy in year 3 students

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorTurner, Carmel Ann
SupervisorRiddle, Stewart
Barton, Georgina
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages2016
Year2020
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/JT8P-YN65
Abstract

Children enter school with a wide variety of experiences and skills in relation to ‘reading’ in the broadest sense of the word (Thomson, 2002). These could range from simple book handling skills to fluency in reading texts. When children begin their formal education, they continue to develop their literacy skills through educational programs and pedagogical approaches that reflect current educational thinking and the needs and visions of teachers, schools, systems and the State. Many formal reading programs use a structured ‘guided reading’ approach, with levelled texts. These commercially produced texts are graded to suit students’ level of attainment and claim to develop their decoding and comprehension skills (Turner, 2014). Although reading such texts can assist students to acquire age-appropriate word reading and comprehension skills (e.g. literal and inferential), this particular focus, coupled with the nature of levelled texts, limits students’ opportunities to engage with quality literature and to develop critical literacy skills.

This study sought to prepare students to function in an information-rich, multimodal and uncertain world—a world in which they require scaffolded opportunities to read, analyse and critique a wide range of texts to make sense of the happenings around them. To be successful, students need critical literacy skills to negotiate their way as citizens in a complex world of written and visual texts, and to make informed decisions to understand the barrage of information that assails them on a daily basis. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to support teachers and students to meet this goal. The study focused on participants’ construction of knowledge, understanding and skills in relation to critical literacy. A small, bounded intrinsic case study design was used. This design was well-suited to research in a social setting and a constructivist view of the interactions of participants with each other, the texts and the teacher. These interactions enabled a clear understanding of the complex interrelationships at play (Stake, 1995).

The findings demonstrated that the students’ engagement with picturebooks containing metafictive devices in a whole-class Readers’ Circle pedagogical framework stimulated their engagement with the books. Their attitude to this genre changed, with students moving from literal responses to more thoughtful and insightful ones. Further, students moved from a state of passive acceptance, in which they were required to simply read the text, to one of anticipation and excitement, which earned them the title of ‘Year 3 Book Detectives’. Thus, this study demonstrated that picturebooks containing metafictive devices are able to teach students strategies not only to read literature, but also to think about it, as opposed to simply learning isolated skills.

Since we live in a multimodal world with ever-increasing societal and environmental challenges, the skill to interpret the visual and the written is imperative for students’ future success. In such uncertain times, students need to be able to critically engage with multimodal texts, which allows them to understand that authors write with the intent to influence. When these skills mature, students can apply them to other modes of communication that constantly bombard our screens to decide what is real and what fits their personal view of life.

In addition, there are opportunities for improvement within higher education and teacher education. It is paramount to train pre-service teachers to fully realise the potential of quality literature, including picturebooks containing metafictive devices, to develop the critically literate voice of their students. In-service classroom teachers should also be offered the opportunity to implement programs within schools that offer a whole-school approach to develop students’ critically literate voice. Tracking this development would offer opportunities for further research on the effect of using picturebooks in schooling.

Keywordscritical literacy, primary education, children's literature, picturebooks, metaficitve devices
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390104. English and literacy curriculum and pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q62w9/the-book-detectives-metafictive-devices-and-the-development-of-critical-literacy-in-year-3-students

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