Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Maria Diaz

Second Advisor

Dr. Karin Lewis

Third Advisor

Dr. Sandra Musanti


As the leading U.S. state currently welcoming all kinds of refugees, Texas has a public school system that offers a formal education to refugee students (Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration, 2015). For many student refugees, formal schooling begins in this system. Thus it is important to understand how Texas public schools support the linguistic and academic development of these diverse learners. In order to fill this research gap, this study examines student refugee school-based literacy interactions in the U.S. public school system and how these practices connect or do not connect with the literacy practices these students experience in informal settings.

The theoretical perspectives that inform this study are Social Cultural Theory (Vygotsky, 1978), New Literacy Studies (Barton, 2007; Gee, 2008; Heath, 1983; Street, 2005), and Funds of Knowledge (Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti, 2005). The results from this research investigation, which consisted of a cross-case analysis of two student refugees, document four major themes encompassing their literacy experiences. The first theme encompasses the literacy activities that their ELA/ ESL teacher provides for them. The second theme situates the student refugees as language brokers. The third theme revolves around cultural traditions and oral storytelling. Lastly, religion plays an important role for both participants; connections are drawn between familial religious practices and student literacy. The findings of this qualitative cross-case analysis bear implications for current and future teachers, administrators, and community members. The recommendations are: 1) to identify and implement best practices for developing the literacy of student refugees across the school district; 2) to require specialized professional development for teachers of student refugees; and 3) to establish a partnership between school, home, and community. Further research is needed to explore which best practices content-area teachers may or may not be utilizing in the classroom to support the literacy development of student refugees and how these practices are being connected to the students’ lived experiences in and out of the school setting.


Copyright 2018 Maria L. Mendez. All Rights Reserved.