Teaching Composition Together: Democracy, Perceptions, and New Literacies


This action research investigates coteaching and democratic learning in a Master of Arts in Teaching, Teaching Composition course that focused on new literacies (Lankshear and Knobel, 2011). Utilizing a motivational survey and inductive analysis of students’ written reflections and course artifacts, this study explored coteaching and democratic learning within a teaching program that privileged increasing students’ digital literacy capacity.  Moreover, the researchers analyzed students’ consideration of and enactment of democratic culture and new literacies in their professional practice. The motivational survey, which measured students’ perceptions of the course, revealed that students perceived that their instructors cared about their well-being as people and as students in the course, believed the information taught was useful, and felt that the instructors supported them in being successful. Themes of power between coteachers and students emerged: (a) democratic ownership of content, space, and knowledge; (b) communication among students and teachers, common goals, and collaboration; and (c) transparency in teaching, tools, and feedback. Limitations included the small, homogenous group of students, all of whom were high achieving and highly motivated. This research serves as a springboard for future research on new literacies and democratic learning environments.  English Educators may find the motivational survey, which is validated by research, useful in understanding student perceptions of their instruction. The study also provides insight into new literacies and curriculum that privileges democratic learning. A work-flow model was created in conjunction with the students; the researchers present this model as well an advanced version of the model, with new literacies’ theoretical components as an overlay.


Aldridge, S.C., and Harvatt, K. (2014). Wired for success: Real world solutions for transforming higher education. Washington, D.C.: American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Alsup, J. and Miller, S.J. (2014). Reclaiming English education: Rooting social justice in dispositions. English Education, 46(3), 195-215.

Council of Chief State School Officers. (2011). InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards. Retrieved from:

Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Curwood, J.S. and Cowell, L.L.H. (2011). iPoetry: Creating space for new literacies in the English curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 55, 110-120.

Dredger, K. (2011). Wikis, blogs, e-portfolios, and face-to-face conferencing: Coaching diverse students in differentiated settings. Paper presented at Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CHEP), Blacksburg, VA. Abstract retrieved from: http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_71/11388000/11388013/1/print/9916508_final_version_4.pdf.

Dredger, K., Woods, D., Beach, C., and Sagstetter, V. (2010). Engage me: Using new literacies to create third space classrooms that engage student writers. Journal of Media Literacy in Education 2(2). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/jmle/vol2/iss2/1/.

Erickson, F. (1986). Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching 3rd ed (pp. 119-161). New York, NY: Macmillian.

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Graham, S., and Perin, D. (2007a). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent
students. Journal of Educational Psychology 99, 445-476.

Graham, S., and Perin, D. (2007b). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools –A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from: https://www.carnegie.org/media/filer_public/3c/f5/3cf58727-34f4-4140-a014-723a00ac56f7/ccny_report_2007_writing.pdf.

Graziano, K. J., and Navarrete, L. A. (2012). Co-teaching in a teacher education classroom: Collaboration, compromise, and creativity. Issues in Teacher Education 21, 109-126.

Hull, G. A., and Katz, M. (2006). Crafting an agentive self: Case studies of digital storytelling. Research in the Teaching of English 41(1), 43-81.

Jones, B. D. (2009). Motivating students to engage in learning: The MUSIC model of academic motivation. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 21(2), 272-285.

Jones, B. D., and Skaggs, G. (2012). Validation of the MUSIC model of academic motivation inventory: A measure of students’ motivation in college courses. Paper presented at the International Conference on Motivation, Frankfurt, Germany. Retrieved from: http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2014/8480/pdf/Martens_et_al_2012_Motivation_Conference.pdf.

Jones, B. D., and Wilkins, J. L. M. (2013). Validity evidence for the use of a
motivation inventory with middle school students. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Motivation, Washington, D.C.

Labbo, L. D. (2004). Internet projects and democratic learning. Language Arts 82(1), 32.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Maxwell J. A. (2008). Designing a qualitative study. In Alasuutari, P., Bickman, L., and Brannen, J. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of social research methods (pp. 214-253). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

Montecinos, C., Cnudde, V., Ow, M., Solis, M. C., Suzuki, E., and Riveros, M. (2002). Relearning the meaning and practice of student teaching supervision through collaborative self-study. Teaching and Teacher Education 18, 791-793.

Sagor, R. (2000). What is Action Research? In Guiding School Improvement with Action Research. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research¢.aspx.
How to Cite
. Teaching Composition Together: Democracy, Perceptions, and New Literacies. International Journal for Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, may 2017. ISSN 2472-5161. Available at: <http://ejournals.library.gatech.edu/ijsotel/index.php/ijsotel/article/view/25>. Date accessed: 11 nov. 2019.