Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Colvin, Carolyn

First Committee Member

Dipardo, Anne

Second Committee Member

Williams, Rachel

Third Committee Member

Whitmore, Kathryn

Fourth Committee Member

Rapson, John

Fifth Committee Member

Thein, Amanda


Adolescent literacy learning centered in processes of imagination is marginalized and neglected within the saturated climate of standardized assessment. This arts-based qualitative study uncovers imagination as an active presence central to making meaning in a middle school language arts class involved in a writing experience inspired by the history of jazz. Learning filtered through the creative processes of writing reveals imagination as an interiorized action in adolescent literacy development. I ground this research in sociocultural perspectives of literacy (Vygotsky, 1978, 1986) engaged in aesthetic paradigms of learning. From this perspective, I investigate how middle school student writers participating in individual and collaborative activities internalize the experience to create new understandings of the world in which they live. Through the lens of theory, I explore the imagination as a higher psychological and cultural function involved in the mediated development of language. This study describes the powerful ways in which students craft writing and concurrently develop strong, critical and creative thinking capacities. I discard false perspectives that assume the inefficacy of learning in expressive modes and endorse pedagogies that place imagination at the center of processes of literacy teaching and learning.


adolescent literacy, Arts-Based Education, Imagination, Jazz, Vygotsky, writing


1, ix, 202 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 192-202).


Copyright 2012 Wendy Lee Caszatt-Allen

Included in

Education Commons