Developing second language narrative literacy using concept-based instruction and a division-of-labor pedagogy

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Buescher, Kimberly
Graduate Program:
Applied Linguistics
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 11, 2015
Committee Members:
  • James Lantolf, Dissertation Advisor
  • Celeste S Kinginger, Committee Member
  • Karen E Johnson, Committee Member
  • Matthew Edward Poehner, Committee Member
  • sociocultural theory of mind
  • Vygotsky
  • materialization
  • materialized representation
  • role distribution
  • learning potential
A well-documented curricular gap exists in L2 pedagogy between the introductory courses, focusing mainly on language, and advanced courses, focusing mainly on literary content. Intermediate learners, despite their proficiency, generally have difficulty in bridging this gap, as it requires a shift from decoding to interpreting and analyzing texts. In order to contribute to closing the gap, this research aimed to promote the development of intermediate learners’ L2 narrative literacy abilities while studying their development in the formation process. A concept-based instructional (CBI) approach was developed and implemented through a Division-of-Labor Pedagogy (DOLP) during a twelve-week pedagogical intervention. This study investigated the extent to which CBI/DOLP promoted the development of learners’ L2 narrative literacy abilities as well as their understanding, use, appropriation, and internalization of three concepts necessary for reading and interpreting texts of any kind: Foundation, Organization, and Genre. The concepts were segmented into their component parts and assigned to intermediate learners of L2 French as “roles” which they prepared and shared with the other learners organized in a collective format. This allowed each learner to participate fully in the reading activity even though at the outset each learner was responsible for only a portion of the knowledge needed to read, analyze, and interpret the texts utilized in the study. Mediation was provided as needed for both individuals and the collective. The learners read a series of narrative texts that had been previously evaluated for their relative complexity by independent raters. The raters also scored pre-test and post-test summaries produced by each learner. The summaries were rated for main idea, supporting details, synthesis, generalizations, and accuracy. Statistical analysis showed that learners’ scores on both mid- and high-level text summaries improved significantly from pre- to post-test. Additional data included audio/video recordings of the learners’ performance during the ten weeks of instructional activities, a series of verbalizations of their understanding of the relevant concepts, and survey data. Along with improved performance on the pre- and post-tests, the learners exhibited marked changes in their respective verbalizations on the concepts and the manner in which they used the concepts to guide their thinking/performance.