Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Barbara A. Fox

Second Advisor

David S. Rood

Third Advisor

Maria Thomas-Ruzic


This thesis examines how second language students perceive the challenges of acquiring advanced academic literacy at U.S. universities, by investigating the actions and decisions of two research participants in the process of discourse enculturation into their field of study. Data was collected primarily through personal interviews over the course of their first semester of study. Through interviews and document analysis, a data-driven study emerged, reported on in the words of the participants in two personal narratives. The study highlights the importance of the perceptions of second language students in delineating the complex set of variables involved in the process of advanced academic literacy acquisition. Findings suggest that there is a complex interrelationship between the strategies invoked in response to academic challenges and the goals the research participants were seeking to attain. This interrelationship is described in terms of individual learning trajectories as related to particular contexts of discourse initiation.