This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Reading Their Stories: Exploring the Nature, Institution, Discourse, and Affinity Identities of Developmental College Readers through a Narrative Lens




Jones, Kimberly Fountain

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


Higher education is facing a challenge with as many as 60% of entering students at community colleges testing into one or more developmental level classes each year (Bailey & Cho, 2010, p. 46). This is a crisis that impacts economics, graduation rates, and student morale. The study of students’ perceptions of themselves and their educational history has been neglected in research. In fact, research on community college in general is lacking in higher education research. In order to add needed depth to this conversation, this qualitative study examined the reading identity of students placed into developmental reading at a community college in the Southeast. Tools for analysis included James Gee’s (1996/2000) ideas of Discourses and his four ways to view identity through Institution, Nature, Discourse, and Affinity. The researcher interviewed six women who had completed the developmental reading course sequence to gather their stories of reading throughout their lives. The researcher then restoried these interviews into fictionalized narratives to explore the issues of power, identity, pedagogy, culture, family, and friends as those pertain to their reading identities. In the discussion of these narratives, the researcher explored concepts such as mindset, mushfake, self-efficacy, boundary crossing, and melancholy, all of which affected at least some of these women throughout their reading lives. The researcher also questioned what effective and ineffective pedagogy seemed to be influential for these readers, including student-selected texts, reading aloud, and purposeful engagement with texts. The researcher called for a curricular change in reading.