Short title: Teacher-student epistemological interplay

Donald Bruce Bierman, University of Rhode Island


The severe consequences of not achieving Annual Yearly Progress standards established by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 have resulted in schools developing programs designed to address the academic needs of students at risk for failing the assessment. Focusing on one reading class comprised of two teachers and 15 tenth grade students enrolled in such a program, I inquire into the impact students and teachers have upon one another's epistemological understandings, particularly regarding their beliefs about the source of knowledge. Employing grounded theory methodology informed by microethnographic discourse analysis, the author analyzes transcripts of classroom conversations, interviews with students and teachers, and students' written texts, including their written responses to the reading section of the state's high stakes assessment. While both teachers establish an inherently hegemonic institutional discursive context, positioning themselves as the source of knowledge, student behavior evidences resistance to this epistemological stance. Intersubjectivity, intertextuality, and interdiscursivity in students' discourse indicate persistent attempts to modify the discursive context. Students refuse to accept institutional devaluations of their worldviews and identities as they continue to reference their own personal experiences, perceptions, and interpretations in their literary analysis. Concurrently, students' discourse has no discernible effect upon the teachers' epistemological beliefs. The study ends with suggestions for creating curriculum designed explicitly for the activization of alternative epistemological resources that would empower this population of students.

Recommended Citation

Donald Bruce Bierman, "Short title: Teacher-student epistemological interplay" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3314450.