Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Curtis Porter

Second Advisor

Gloria Park

Third Advisor

Lynanne Black

Abstract

This dissertation documented and analyzed the academic experiences of three multilingual, college-aged students diagnosed with specific learning disabilities. The purpose of this dissertation is to gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of the participants’ experiences and to draw on the pedagogical implications to better advance the educational field in general, and the field of Composition and Applied Linguistics in specific. This dissertation used narrative research as a methodology and employed semi-structured interviews as the data collection tool.

The research question of the study explored the nature of the academic experiences of the three participants and how the pedagogical implications would inform the educational field. Results of the study were presented in the form of the narrated educational stories of the three participants. The educational stories were further implemented to generate the shared thematic findings in the three stories. Results of these thematic findings generated the shared themes: (1) the positive and negative effects of living with a learning disability (LD) diagnosis on the participants’ learning and social lives; (2) the significance of support elements in the participants’ lives as success factors; (3) the role of the educational institutions in both empowering and hindering the participants’ education; and (4) the influence of living with an LD diagnosis on the participants’ educational life choices.

Finally, the academic stories of the three participants, along with the generated thematic findings, furthered the ideas of the pedagogical implications. This advancement could potentially better inform the Composition and Applied Linguistics field and the general educational field about these pressing topics. These pedagogical findings stressed the significance of minimizing the difference created in schools due to not equally including students with LDs in the educational process. In addition, this dissertation’s findings emphasized the need to include narrative work that looks into the experiences of multilingual students with LDs in the teachers’ training programs. Finally, the pedagogical implications emphasize the need to move towards a universal design in the classroom to help alleviate the needs of students with LDs and to help minimize the stigma attached to LDs and accommodations needed.

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