Theories and methodologies for literacy and language education research

LLED faculty draw on a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary theories and methodologies in our research, teaching, and scholarship informed by strong commitments to research ethics and reciprocity. Some colleagues’ theoretical approaches are closely associated with particular methodologies (i.e., certain research designs, types of analysis, presentation of results, etc.); others can be explored using a wide range of possible methodologies, some of which may be highly innovative and experimental. Similarly, some methodologies assume particular epistemologies and ontologies (and theoretical orientations) whereas others do not. We discuss such issues in our LLED doctoral seminars and other courses and many faculty members are considered leaders in advancing theories and methodologies/methods in education, the social sciences, and humanities.

Sample Theoretical Frameworks/Approaches

Much of LLED research could be characterized as interpretive, ecological, and/or critical, with a growing focus on decolonization and Indigenous and other ways of knowing, researching, and mobilizating knowledge. Our faculty are (collectively) known for work drawing on the following approaches:

  • Indigenous, decolonizing, and place-based epistemologies
  • Sociological and sociocultural theories
  • Critical race theory
  • Linguistic anthropology (e.g., language ideologies, socialization)
  • Feminist and (other) poststructural theories (e.g., related to identity)
  • Discursive and realist social constructionism
  • Environmental theory and practice
  • Systemic (and other) functional linguistic theories and semiotics
  • Digital humanities
  • Ecological and embodied theories of teaching/learning/performance
  • Social networking theories
  • Learning analytics

Examples of Course Offerings

LLED 501: Analyzing Discourse and Talk: An Overview of Methods
LLED 502: Analyzing Discourse in Education: Descriptive and Critical Approaches
LLED 503: Qualitative Research Interviewing in Education: Theories and Methods
LLED 558: Literacy and Multimodality
LLED 565: Environmental Literacy
LLED 580: Qualitative Research in Language & Literacy Education
LLED 601: Theories for Language and Literacy Research
LLED 602: Critical Issues and Research Methodology in Language and Literacy Education


Sample Research Methodologies

Arts-based research (e.g., poetic inquiry; research-based theatre; life histories)
Decolonizing methodologies
Discourse analytic approaches
Narrative inquiry (e.g., interactional approaches, positioning analysis)
Indigenous storywork
Critical ethnography and other forms of ethnographic research
Case study
Teacher action research and participatory approaches
Digital research methods
Multimodal research methods

A Sampling of LLED Theses and Dissertations