Article Annotations

Annotated Bibliography – Week 10

Mills, K. a. (2010). A Review of the “Digital Turn” in the New Literacy Studies. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 246–271.

New Literacy Studies, specifically digital contexts, was the topic of this review of empirical studies by Mills.  In her review of the early studies related to this field, she focused not only on communication practices related to literacy but also on the sociocultural aspects of these practices.  She briefly explained the roots of New Literacy Studies, and then focused specifically on communication practices in regards to digital contexts which researchers from across the globe have begun to examine.  These communication practices can be any “sign making practice using digital technology” (p. 246).  In addition, patterns were identified across empirical studies; although, universalities are avoided in New Literacy Studies.  These include hybridization, creative production, and collaboration amongst others.  She concluded the article by emphasizing the need for additional studies in authentic contexts which focus on changes that are occurring in regards to literacy and that these need to be communicated so that policies and curriculum can be based on current research in the field.

The author explicitly stated how she compiled the information used for this study.  She limited the time from 1999 – 2009 for the database search which used major search engines in education and used peer-reviewed articles that stated the sociocultural literacy approach.  90 articles were retrieved with this method.  A limitation of this study of empirical research was she did not address the psycholinguistic area of New Literacies. The focus of this article was on one specific area of New Literacies without mentioning that there was another camp to explore. The area not mentioned focused on cognitive and language processing theories. This division is important.

I did explore an article mentioned in the reference section by Ajayi.  In this study, Ajayi explored the use of advertisements to communicate ideas in a junior high school ESL classroom to see how signs and text were integrated with a multimodal pedagogy.  The author did find that students were influenced by their culture and background knowledge, and they were able to multimodal resources in a way that enhanced language and literacy.  As I was reading the study, I was struck by the way that only slight differences were made in the presentation of the lesson, but the differences drew the students’ attention to different aspects of the advertisement that the students were not aware of.  This slight difference did impact that students’ critical thinking skills and literacy development.

New Literacy Studies intrigues me.  At this point, I need to find out more.  Based on my background in linguistics, I can see parallels with how one learns a language that is ever changing and literacy which is fluid, too.  At this point, I remain firmly in the middle between the two camps, as I do not know enough about either the sociocultural viewpoint expressed in this article or the psycholinguistic viewpoint that I have read just a small amount of information about.  As I read the article, I found myself agreeing with many of the points, but, in retrospect, I did disagree with the section of the study concerning the idea that language shapes a person’s world.  I even pointed that out in a comment on our course discussion this week.  Maybe I am leaning one particular way.  One thing that I do think both camps agree on is:  As language is ever evolving so, too, is literacy.


Ajayi, L. (2009). English as a Second Language Learners ’ Exploration of Multimodal Texts in a Junior High School. Journal of Adolescent and Adult LiteracyAdult Literacy, 52(April), 585–595.


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