Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Pamela M. Wesely


This qualitative research aims to investigate identity positions of elementary school students with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) background in an afterschool book club. The increasing population of CLD students and their learning needs have become a national focus in American schools. Scholars have highlighted that understanding students’ identity positions and their interactions in social communities benefits teaching practices (Norton, 2013). Although the number of studies investigating identity in language and literacy education is increasing, most focus on English language learners (ELLs) who are currently enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) or ELL programs and few examine these students’ learning trajectories once they exit elementary school ESL programs. Research has shown that although the ELLs exit ESL programs, their culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds continue to impact their learning.

This study attempts to investigate (a) what social practices contribute to elementary school students’ participation in the afterschool book club (b) how CLD students position their identities, (c) what discourses about CLD students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds emerge and shape their identities, and in an elementary school afterschool book club. The data sources of this study include audio and video recordings, observation field notes from the book club, semistructured interviews, and students’ written responses. I draw on Gee (2011) and Fairclough’s (2001) critical discourse analysis concepts and guidance to interpret responses during the data analysis process.

The findings show that the afterschool book club provides multiple social functions that allows CLD students assume multiple identities, utilize their agency to negotiate, and create possible identities. For instance, this space allows the members of this book club to share their personal stories, challenge the conventions of a book club, maintain and expand their friendship circles, and share and listen to their peers’ diverse backgrounds. In addition, the discourses that emerge in the book club illustrate that the CLD students are keenly aware of their identities. However, power relations at different social levels also challenge these multiple identities.

The findings of this study offer nuanced perspectives into the fields of foreign and second language education and literacy education. This study will contribute to teachers’ understanding of CLD students’ identity positions and to respond to Norton and Toohey’s (2011) call for a better understanding of how students learn in globalized sociocultural worlds. Implications for educators, teacher education programs, and researchers are also discussed in this study.


Afterschool book club, Elementary School, Identity, Language Education, Literacy


xvi, 237 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 218-231).


Copyright © 2016 Yu-Chi Wang