Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr. M. Kristiina Montero

Advisor Role

Thesis supervisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Steve Sider

Advisor Role

Thesis committee member


In recent years, there has been a large influx of refugees into settlement countries worldwide. In Canada, this displaced population includes many adolescent students of limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE). Consequently, secondary school teachers are challenged to meet the print literacy needs of SLIFE within traditional ESL instructional settings.

The literature reveals an urgent desire and need for the use of early literacy instructional practices to address the print literacy needs of SLIFE. Despite this acknowledgement, many ESL/ELD secondary school educators are reluctant to shift their pedagogy from traditional ESL to early literacy pedagogy (Dooley, 2009; Dooley & Thangaperumal, 2011; Kanu, 2008; Woods, 2009). Specific barriers have been cited including teachers’ attitudes about traditional ESL instructional practices, teachers’ attitudes about their preparedness to teach SLIFE, teachers’ attitudes about SLIFE, and teachers’ attitudes about their role as educators of SLIFE.

The purpose of this single subject case study was to explore how a secondary teacher, trained in traditional ESL instructional practices, developed her professional knowledge base to work within an English Literacy Development (ELD) program rooted in early literacy pedagogy.

Data was collected and analyzed using an inductive process that involved semi-structured interviews, followed by coding and thematic, critical interpretation.

The results of this study provide insights into factors that influenced one teacher’s conceptions of self, SLIFE, pedagogy, and conditions for success, leading her to shift, over time, from traditional ESL to early literacy instructional practices. These factors included her use of personal practical knowledge, data-informed pedagogy, student-centred pedagogy, learning through social interaction, and a social justice perspective. The findings of this study are revelatory because there has been no research conducted, to the knowledge of this researcher, focusing on the experiences of teachers of SLIFE working within an early literacy program.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season