Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Hibbert, Kathryn


When China’s Ministry of Education issued a series of curriculum change policies in 2011, major curriculum reform was initiated. Given the significant role that teachers play in curriculum reform, it is critically important to understand their experiences in their professional knowledge landscapes so that intentional and meaningful support for changes can be provided. This information will enrich the scholarly conversation on the theoretical and practical application of a pedagogy of multiliteracies in China and remind policy makers to consider the needs of teachers charged with implementing changes.

Situated in the global and local scholarship of multiliteracies, this empirical study explored the experiences of English literacy teachers when navigating curriculum reforms in contemporary Chinese educational settings. With a pedagogy of multiliteracies and the internationalization of curriculum as the theoretical frameworks, this study married narrative inquiry with the Actor Network Theory to foreground the voices and experiences of six English literacy teachers, paying particular attention to knowledge gaps, difficulties, changes and tensions impacting the teachers’ practice in the face of innovation leading to pedagogical transformation.

The findings revealed that the participant teachers went through a recursive and spiral process of deconstruction-construction-reconstruction, featuring a water ripple effect and being driven by a pull and push force as a result of the interactions between metanarratives and counternarratives. Additionally, the teachers experienced multilayered tensions when negotiating the competing and conflicting stories of students and institutions, which simultaneously produced the desire for professional development and changed teachers at practical, perceptual, and emotional levels. Entangled forces and counterforces, exerted by human and nonhuman entities, were found to co-exist in the sociomaterial world and conditioned the participant teachers’ innovative practices.

The participant teachers processed the “feasible” and “applicable” elements of multiliteracies pedagogy and creatively integrated them into their old schema. Starting by building a level, democratic teacher-student relationship, the teachers began to reconstruct an identity as a new teacher in the 21st century. To achieve the goals of educational reforms, the participants needed practical guidelines and professional support to determine how best to incorporate and embrace a pedagogy of multiliteracies in the classroom.