Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Vocke

Second Advisor

Dr. Estrella Torrez

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Piazza

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Bush


Migrant literacy, critical pedagogy, Latino/acritical theory migrant education, mobility, socialjustice


This research builds upon scholarship that explores the unique needs of Latina/o migrant students and the teachers who serve them. Situated within the overlapping fields of migrant education, critical literacy, and Latina/o critical theory, this narrative examines the practices and perspectives of three teachers, each with more than a decade of experience teaching migrant students in a summer migrant education program (SMEP) in Michigan. The purpose of this study is to give educators, administrators, and community members who work with migrant students additional insight into the literacy acquisition process and unique challenges of working with this population.

Despite the aim of SMEPs to address areas where migrant students struggle academically, migrant students continue to struggle to frequent relocation and factors such as poverty, discrimination, and access to services. Research has generally shown that migrant students also encounter cultural, linguistic and racial barriers within school systems that can hinder their academic progress (Tatto et. al, 2000; Valencia, 2002; Romanowski, 2002; Green, 2003; Cranston-Gingras, 2003; Vocke, 2007; Torrez, 2013). Literacy is one area where migrant students continue to underperform compared to their non-migrant peers. By offering detailed portraits of teachers who work with the migrant population, this study highlights classroom practices of teachers who are tasked with increasing the literacy skills of their students. The study also reveals barriers and pathways within the institution of migrant education that impact the needs of migrant students.

While this study revealed pedagogical practices unique to each case study participant, it also revealed ‘common critical practices’ shared by all of the teachers that employ aspects of critical literacy, with a consideration of their student’s knowledge and background. As school systems nationwide continue to experience an influx of migrant students who are expected to perform at the same level on state assessments as their nonmigrant peers, the outcomes of this study are relevant for teachers of migrant students in all settings. In addition, this study serves as a model for stakeholders in migrant education to consider how migrant farmworker students continue to be disenfranchised by existing laws, policies and educational practices.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access