Fluency displaced: Identity, cognition, membership, and power in the composing processes of adolescents with learning disabilities

Sarah R Jones, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of the composing processes enacted by adolescents with learning disabilities. Special education interventions focus largely on fulfilling the writing tasks associated with product and process theories of composition, but the field has conducted little research on the practices of adolescents with learning disabilities in postprocess writing tasks. Participants in this qualitative multi-case study were three male high school students with school-identified learning disabilities. Analysis of field notes, interview transcripts, think-aloud protocols, and the participants' written documents over six months revealed that all three participants viewed writing tasks as potential opportunities to enact their felt identities. However, their degree of membership in the discourse communities at hand and their perceptions of power and authority impacted how successfully they enacted their felt identities through the writing process. The participants showed the classic processing, language, and generalization difficulties represented in special education literature, but such difficulties were a relatively small factor in their approach to composition in authentic contexts. Implications for research and practice are discussed.




Bouck, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Special education

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