Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Learning and Instruction


Special Education EdD

First Advisor

Nicola McClung

Second Advisor

Emily Nusbaum

Third Advisor

Susan Katz


Using Multiliteracies to Engage and Empower Students with Complex Support Needs This dissertation is comprised of two studies:

• Creating New Learning Spaces Using Multiliteracies with Students with Complex Support Needs

• Transforming Narrative Identity through Multiliteracies

Students with complex support needs (SCSN) are frequently denied access to meaningful and challenging literacy instruction. These studies explore how student- authored narratives in the individualized education plan (IEP), implemented during a multiliteracies curriculum, can simultaneously engage and empower SCSN. These studies are based on the qualitative research that I conducted from November 15, 2018 to February 11, 2018 at a special day class for SCSN in a public high school. I implemented a multiliteracies curriculum during student-authored narrative for use at the IEP meeting, which is typically held every year for students labeled with disabilities by the school system.

Creating New Learning Spaces Using Multiliteracies with Students with Complex Support Needs explores the new learning spaces that were created by multiliteracies in the areas of problem-solving, growing complexity in the use of language and tools, and self-knowledge. Further, this study suggests that multiliteracies created new patterns of teacher-student interactions, which led to student engagement, initiation, and joy of learning. This article describes the details of my qualitative research using grounded theory and is written for an academic journal for literacy scholars.

Transforming Narrative Identity through Multiliteracies relates the transformation of one student’s narrative identity (stories told about the student by himself and others) during the study. Multiliteracies enabled student agency, and offered this student with complex support needs an opportunity to change his narrative identity from deficit to pride and competence. This case study tracks the changes in a) the cultural narrative and b) the social participation to determine changes in the narrative identity of the student. This article is narrative in style and written keeping in mind special educators and administrators. The purpose of the article is to alert special educators to hidden narratives in the IEP document and their classroom practices.