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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

K.C. Nat Turner

Second Advisor

Sangeeta Kamat

Third Advisor

Martha Fuentes-Bautista

Subject Categories

Art Education | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Methods | Education Economics | Secondary Education and Teaching


This study explores the development of critical multimodal and media literacy skills in high school aged students against the backdrop of current state and national education policy. Following the progress of students in a semester-long writing course that focuses on critical multimodal and media literacy, the study examines how critical literacy skills develop within different modes and mediums – particularly those enabled by new media and digital technologies – and considers the implications of critical multimodal and media literacy skills for student engagement, agency, and achievement. The study further analyzes the impact at the institutional level of educational reforms incentivized by No Child Left Behind (2002) and Race to the Top (2009), and considers how current policy defines and measures literacy, achievement, and technology use. With a specific focus on issues of racial and socioeconomic equity, the I argue that critical multimodal and media literacies develop in students essential tools with which to forge personal, social, and educational change. Data collection and analysis employ largely qualitative research methods including the following: detailed ethnographic observations and fieldnotes; student interviews; analysis of student work; interviews with school staff; and analysis of relevant institutional and policy documents concerning technology and literacy. In order to better understand and address the complexity of factors impacting student literacy development, connections are drawn throughout between micro practices in the classroom, meso-level institutional factors, and the macro influences of education policy.