Rosie David will be presenting her dissertation proposal on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 from 9:00AM to 11:00AM online via Zoom.
Supervisors: Drs. Meghan Corella and Ryuko Kubota
Committee Member: Dr. Michelle Stack
Dissertation Title: LangDisCrit: Counter-storytelling of postsecondary English-as-an-additional-language users with learning disabilities
Research about learning disabilities (LDs) and students who use English as an additional language (EALs) is limited and, in many ways, has failed to address the needs of an ever-evolving demographic of twenty-first century learners. As the world becomes more globalized, there will be a continued need to rethink additional language (AL) learning and how educational practitioners ought to approach disability in the EAL classroom and onward into traditional classroom settings. There are arguably very few of these kinds of discussions occurring in post-secondary settings and the majority of this work approaches disability and AL learning through a deficit lens, projecting that learning-disabled EALs have a learning deficit and/or lack the skills needed to acquire an AL in the same manner as their non-disabled peers (Sparks et al., 1996; Downey et al., 2020; Abdullateef, 2022). As a result, current scholarship tends to either examine the cognitive and/or affective dimensions of language learning or evaluate the usefulness of a particular learning intervention or teaching approach (Kormos, 2017; Boroskin & Faust, 2014; Savvidou & Loizides, 2016). Current scholarship has overlooked the educational experiences of learning-disabled EALs attending post-secondary institutions. Consequently, the educational experiences of learning-disabled EALs remain absent from the stories being told about university students with LDs and therefore these stories are not reflected in the current policies and practices that are put into place to support learning-disabled students at the post-secondary level.
This current study seeks to fill this gap by acknowledging that there is a need to document the educational experiences of learning-disabled EALs at the post-secondary level. This proposal is grounded in the belief that there is a need to document and share the stories of learning-disabled EALs at the post-secondary level to tell “the stories of those people whose experiences are not often told” (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 26), including individuals whose multiple identities meet at the intersection of disability, language, gender, race, and whose educational trajectories may also be affected by their socio-economic class and nationality. Through individual interviews, a focus group, thematic analysis and composite representation, this study will generate counter-storytelling of postsecondary EALs with LDs to challenge ableist understandings of disability. By drawing on the educational experiences of learning-disabled EALs in the Canadian university context, this study will seek to explore issues of equity and distribution of access to learning. Such questions are significant because unequal access to learning opportunities not only disadvantages or excludes EALs with LDs from reaching their full potential but can also have adverse consequences over a course of a lifetime (Messiou, 2012).