Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Luciana C. de Oliveira

Committee Chair

Luciana C. de Oliveira

Committee Member 1

Janet Alsup

Committee Member 2

Tony Silva

Committee Member 3

Ruth Harman


The purpose of this study was to provide a functional linguistic based description of teacher writing comments in secondary ELA classrooms. Based within a case study methodology, this study used analytical tools from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) in order to discover the various meanings that teachers make through their commenting practices. The findings of the study show that teacher comments focus on the content of the student writing, but also, significantly, help teachers to discursively realize various teacher identities. It was also found that teacher comments tended to either be concrete in their reference to a particular error in the text, or abstract in mentioning a particular theoretical understanding about writing, and comments rarely linked the concrete to the abstract. The implication of these findings suggest that teachers and students may benefit from a shared metalanguage that would allow them to explicitly link abstract notions of correctness in writing to particular, concrete places in the student text.