Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of English

First Advisor

Joyce Walker


How are narratives, as mediating cultural tools within activity systems, influencing or shaping the ways in which alternative high school teachers are designing, developing, and implementing their writing instruction? This thesis seeks to answer this guiding research question by investigating the writing pedagogies and praxis of two Illinois alternative school teachers. Using literate activity research and narrative analysis as guiding frameworks for the research, a qualitative study was conducted to examine participants’ activity systems and their uptake of two broader cultural narratives: the “at-risk student” and “general writing skills instruction” narratives. Data was collected over the course of the study through an initial survey, a series of interviews, and through emails with participants. The study analyzes aspects of participants’ activity systems, participants’ uptake of the “at-risk” and “general writing skills” narratives, participants’ teaching goals and values (as shaped by their systems and uptake of cultural narratives), and how all of these elements not only dialogically shape one another but also mediate participants’ literate activity; namely, the development of their writing assignments and assessments. After analyzing these various factors, or “layers,” of participants’ literate activity, the results of the study suggest that participants’ literate activity is definitively shaped by their local activity systems (their environments and semiotic and material resources), their uptake of these cultural narratives, and their learning goals that have been shaped in response to their narrative uptakes and systems. The results of the study suggest broader implications for teachers within and beyond alternative schools: that the uptake of various cultural narratives has real and lasting impacts on teachers’ activity systems (schools, classrooms) and on their literate activity. The unexamined use of these narratives can create problematic misalignments between instructors’ systems, intended goals, and their production of teaching texts. The thesis concludes with recommendations for two interventions that may help re-align the contradictions within the literate activity practices of alternative high school teachers.


Imported from Hancock_ilstu_0092N_11843.pdf


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