Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lilia P. Savova, Ph.D.


This qualitative research study aimed to critically examine developmental reading textbook and educational policy discourse situated in the California Community College System in order to uncover implicit assumptions about literacy, textbooks, college reading instruction, the instructor's role, and the role of developmental students. A theoretical framework combining Norman Fairclough's (2001) three-stage method of Critical Discourse Analysis with sociocultural theory and critical pedagogy was employed to investigate three primary research questions: a) How can the application of critical discourse analysis to developmental reading textbooks and related educational policy texts benefit educators and students? b) How do implicit assumptions embedded in the discourse of developmental reading textbooks construct literacy, the instructor's role, and the role of developmental students? c) Is there a relationship between developmental reading textbooks and educational policy? By applying Critical Discourse Analysis to the following three data sets: Ten Steps to Improving College Reading Skills, 6th edition (Langan, 2014), a 652-page developmental reading textbook, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges' (2008) 96-page document: The Course Outline of Record: A Curriculum Reference Guide The Course Outline of Record, and Title 3: Post-Secondary Education, Chapter 6: Academic Materials, §§66406-66410 of the California Education Code (2005), six pages of state laws devoted to the regulation of textbooks in higher education, this research study was able to foreground developmental reading and educational policy discourse that may have been previously considered benign. The results of the critical analysis of educational policy and developmental reading textbook discourse provided evidence of the existence of underlying assumptions about literacy, textbooks, college reading instruction, and the roles of both the instructor and developmental student in higher education. Among these assumptions are the notion that literacy is a basic skill, skills-based college reading instruction is the most effective means of improving literacy development and test performance, textbooks are a necessary and central part of community college curriculum, the instructor is an authority in relation to the student and, at the same time, an agent of the text producer and textbook discourse, and the developmental student is deficient, unskilled, undisciplined, and subordinate to both the instructor and the curriculum.