Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Rachel Heydon


This case study using ethnographic tools was conducted in an Ontario transnational education (TNE) program in China where Ontario secondary school curricula were integrated with the Chinese national curricula. Curricula are seen by TNE researchers as key to successful TNE programs (e.g., Hughes & Urasa, 1997). However, little is known about how literacy-related curricula are exported across borders and what happens with them in local contexts. The study investigated how literacy was conceived and practiced at the various levels of curriculum at the elite secondary school (Pseudonym: SCS), namely, intended, implemented, lived, hidden, and null curriculum.

The theoretical tools of the study included: multiliteracies, curriculum ideologies, theories on internationalizing curriculum, and various levels of curriculum.

Sources of data included the documents that underpinned the school’s intended curriculum, interviews of Chinese and Ontario policy makers to obtain information about the local/global factors affecting decision-making, interviews with Chinese and Canadian instructors about implementing literacy curricula in a cross-border context, observations of 84 periods of their English and Mandarin literacy-related classes, and interviews with students and the eliciting of their multimodal artifacts to illuminate the scope of their learning experiences and how local and global discourses limited and/or expanded their literacy and “identity options” (Cummins, 2001, p. 17).

Findings concern the ways in which various local and global curriculum discourses interacted and competed with one another to create a contradictory social space at the school, for instance, educational entrepreneurship, neoliberal impacts, Canadian and Chinese ministries of education, and their inherited educational philosophies. This unique space of local/global nexus enabled new forms of literacy and fluid identities as is shown in students’ assignments and multimodal artifacts, but it also restricted the transnational education students’ opportunities of developing certain literacies.

The study recommends curricula that expand students’ literacy and identity options in globalized schooling contexts through the implementation of critically oriented cosmopolitan literacy education that has the potential to legitimate educators’ and students’ agentive roles and enhance policy makers’, educators’, and students’ cosmopolitan sensibilities. The study enriches the existent understanding of the situatedness and complexity of literacy-related curriculum issues in TNE communities.