Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction


Secondary schools in the United States are filled with English language learners. The large amount of English Language Learners (ELLs) represent a diverse population with unique academic trajectories and language needs. The diversity among ELLs requires an examination of ELLs’ identity, as it relates to literacy development and achievement. This qualitative study explores how different types of ELLs negotiate identities in an English language arts classroom. Specifically, how different types of ELLs’ perceptions as readers and writers impact identity negotiation is analyzed. The study takes place in a sixth grade English language arts classroom in deep South Texas. It is an in depth look at how 10 focal ELLs, representing different types of ELLs, engage in a teacher-researcher designed unit of instruction. The unit focused on identity and was designed to determine what learning opportunities help foster identity negotiation. The data collected occurred over three and a half months and included written and audio-recorded interviews, participant journal entries, student produced artifacts, and a teacher researcher journal. The findings revealed that ELLs negotiate identities based on their previous schooling experiences and how language, high stakes tests, and teacher actions have critical impact in the identity negotiation process. More importantly, there are slight differences in how different types ELLs negotiate identities as learners, readers, and writers in the classroom, and it is through learning about the differences that teachers can best help ELLs.

Granting Institution

University of Texas Brownsville



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