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Concentration: Literacy and English Language Arts Education (LELA)

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Program: Teacher Education and Learning Sciences
in Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS)
Delivery Method: On Campus

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The Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences: Literacy and English Language Arts (LELA) Education concentration is designed for individuals with interests in literacy, reading, new literacies, and English education research, scholarship, and teacher preparation. The concentration prepares students for roles as teacher educators and researchers in higher education or instructional leadership roles at school, district, and state levels, or education-related private industry. Individuals seeking admission to this concentration should have a strong background in this area and a desire to conduct original research in these fields.

Please note: If you are interested in applying for this program area of study, please use the Apply Now button. If you have any questions, please contact either Dr. Angela Wiseman, or the Director of Graduate Programs for the Ph.D., Dr. Meghan Manfra.

Concentration Description

Students are expected to take initiative in their studies to read and master material beyond the specific readings and activities required in coursework. Students will work closely with faculty members through a sequence of experiences leading to greater research independence as their roles change from students to colleagues over the course of their graduate programs.

The concentration is built on foundations of research and application and is composed of three strands:

  • Content area specialization
  • Research
  • Preparation for professional roles

Students must complete specified coursework and experiences in the Literacy and English Language Arts Education concentration and in research. In addition, the doctoral student must participate in specified common courses and seminars that serve as a core for the doctorate in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences. These activities enable the doctoral student to develop expertise in college teaching, research, supervision and other areas of knowledge and skill deemed appropriate by the student and doctoral advisory committee.

For more detailed information on the program, interested candidates may consult the  Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences: LELA Concentration Handbook.

Course of Study

All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Most doctoral programs in the College of Education require a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours beyond an approved master’s degree.


Innovations in Teaching Literacy and English Language Arts

Faculty in the NC State College of Education are engaged in literacy research, teaching and outreach activities that help translate scientific evidence into high-quality teacher preparation and reading, writing, and English language arts instruction for children in grades K-12.

The Literacy Space

Our LELA Concentration Faculty

Chandra Alston
Assistant Professor
English Language Arts Education

Sarah Cannon
Teaching Assistant Professor
English Language Arts Education
edTPA Coordinator

Dennis Davis
Associate Professor
Literacy Education

Michelle Falter
Assistant Professor
English Language Arts Education

Jill Grifenhagen
Assistant Professor
Literacy Education

Jill Jones
Teaching Assistant Professor
Literacy Education

Crystal Chen Lee
Assistant Professor
English Language Arts Education

Carol Pope
Professor Emeritus
English Language Arts Education

Ruie Pritchard
Professor Emeritus
English Language Arts Education

Jackie Eunjung Relyea
Assistant Professor
Literacy Education

Angela Wiseman
Associate Professor
Literacy Education

Carl Young
Associate Professor
English Language Arts Education

Our Affiliated Faculty

John Nietfeld
Educational Psychology

Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education
  • 3.0 grade point average or higher at the Master’s level
  • Completed application to the NC State Graduate School
  • GRE Score
  • 3+ years of teaching experience at the K–12 level in literacy, reading, English language arts or related areas (preferred)
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation, including one from a professor who can attest to your academic work
  • Statement of Purpose, should be 2-3 pages and include research interest
  • Writing Sample (Master’s thesis if applicable)

Additional Information

A Unique Research Context

A unique feature of our doctoral focus in literacy is the dynamic context in which we conduct our work. The LELA concentration faculty conducts research in a variety of areas, including: an analysis of teaching English Language Arts in the digital age; digital literacies; professional development of literacy educators; writing and technology; game-based learning as literacy; using children’s literature and media literacy to respond to cyberbullying; innovative vocabulary instruction for preschool-aged children; coaching practices that lead to changes in literacy teacher behavior; research associated with the Disciplinary Literacy MOOC; study abroad; etc.

Our concentration includes a network of strong relationships with local public schools, such as Elementary Education field partnerships, collaboration with students and teachers at Centennial Campus Middle School, and Wake STEM Early College High School. Connections to the public schools help to foster interdisciplinary field-based research projects, which provide opportunities for our doctoral candidates to work with faculty in mentored research initiatives.

One of our concentration’s most dynamic assets is the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, a state-of-the-art facility launched by the College of Education in 2005 that is physically connected to Centennial Campus Middle School. Doctoral students in the Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences Literacy and English Language Arts program area of study have opportunities to collaborate on projects connected to the Friday Institute. The Friday Institute is located on NC State’s Centennial Campus, an innovative environment where close to 60 corporate and government organizations and business incubators thrive in partnership with faculty and students. The Friday Institute’s location and mission capitalize on NC State’s long history of engagement in university and business partnerships, and its leadership role in economic development. The Institute works with school districts in rural North Carolina to extend access to technology for the development of innovative teaching and learning applications as well as schools internationally. Cross-sector collaboration among education, government and private industry has been a cornerstone of the Friday Institute since its inception.

Please note: If you are currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in our College of Education and are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., you must formally apply to the program through the Graduate School.

Current Doctoral Students

Michael Anderson
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Interests: Visual literacy, critical theory, curricular theory
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Falter

Ashley Atkinson
From: New York
Research Interests: Children’s Literature, Trauma Informed Teaching
Advisor: Dr. Angela Wiseman

Sarah Dawson
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Interests: Writing, Teacher Identity, Linguistic Diversity, Trauma-informed Practices
Advisor: Dr. Angela Wiseman

Caitlin Donovan
From: Durham, NC
Research Interests: Writing Instruction, Multiliteracies, Digital Communities, Teacher Preparation
Advisor: Dr. Carl Young

Jessica Eagle
From: Statesville, NC
Research Interests: Emotion, Motivation, and Engagement in ELA, Writing Instruction, and Sub-Screenic Literacies
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Falter

Laura Jacobs
From: Bethesda, MD
Research Interests: Multiliteracies, Social Emotional Learning in ELA, Social Justice Education, Representation in Classroom Texts, and Teacher Education
Advisor: Dr. Carl Young

Jennifer Mann
From: Youngsville, NC
Research Interests: Critical Literacy, Marginalized Students
Advisor: Dr. Crystal Lee

Ha Nguyen
From: Vietnam
Research Interests: Professional development, MOOC, assessment and evaluation, technology, and educational policies
Advisor: Dr. Jill Grifenhagen

Shannon Russell
From: Garner, NC
Research Interests: Early Literacy Acquisition, Literacy Coaching, Novice Teachers
Advisor: Dr. Jill Grifenhagen

Courtney Samuelson
From: Fayetteville, NC
Research Interests: Literacy Intervention, Reading Comprehension, Critical Theory, Instructional Coaching
Advisor: Dr. Carol Pope and Dr. Dennis Davis

Nina Radakovic Schoonover
From: Charlottesville, VA
Research Interests: Arts-integration, Arts-based Pedagogies, Visual Literacies, and Multiliteracies in Secondary (6-12) English Education
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Falter

Lili Wang
From: China
Research Interest: Technology Integration in Language Classes, Media Literacy, Bilingual Education, Project-Based Learning
Advisor: Dr. Hiller Spires

Recent Graduates

Dr. Donna Hawkins (2021), (Chair, Angela Wiseman)
Dissertation: Creativity time: A case study of adolescent multidimensional composition.

Dr. Janet Outlaw (2021), (Chair, Jill Grifenhagen)
Dissertation: Rural elementary teachers’ perceptions and enactments of dialogic ELA comprehension instruction amidst pandemic-induced remote learning.

Dr. Justin Richards (2021), (Chair, Angela Wiseman)
Dissertation: Teaching hip hop in the ‘burbs: Using self-study teacher research to reveal a secondary ELA teacher’s role implementing hip hop pedagogy in the classroom.

Dr. Mark J. Spring (2020), (Chairs, Angela Wiseman & Ruie Pritchard)
Dissertation: Teaching a practical philosophy of the mind: Design, rationale, & illustration of a philosophy-based ELA curriculum model.

Dr. Nermin Vehabovic (2020), (Chair, Angela Wiseman)
Dissertation: A community classroom as “our home” for children and youth resettled as Refugees and tutors: Three essays on language and literacy practices in a transcultural and translingual space.

Dr. Chang Yuan (2019), (Chair, Hiller Spires), Director of English Language Learning, Beijing Royal School
Dissertation: Teaching disciplinary literacy in high school economics classrooms: A dual case study.

Dr. Nicolette Filson (2018), (Chair, Carl Young)
Dissertation: Exploring English language arts pre-service teachers’ standard language ideologies: A mixed methods study.

Dr. Casey Medlock-Paul (2018), (Chair, Hiller Spires)
NCSU Outstanding Dissertation Award, Graduate Student Research Symposium, 2018
Dissertation: Critical literacy pedagogy: Establishing the factors of critical literacy instruction through a mixed methods approach.

Dr. Tanesha Faye Hendley Ashe (2017), (Chair, Carl Young).
Dissertation: Practices and beliefs that influence African American students’ success in English language arts classrooms: A qualitative case study.

Dr. Jill S. Jones (2018), (Co-Chairs, Angela Wiseman and Jill F. Grifenhagen), Teaching Assistant Professor at NC State University
Dissertation: Examining small-group reading instruction for students identified as having difficulty with reading: A multi-case study.

Dr. Abbey Graham (2017), (Chair, Angela Wiseman)
Dissertation: Tensions of multimodality: A case of teaching and learning in one secondary English classroom.

Dr. Michael Shane Fletcher (2016), (Chair, Hiller Spiers)
AERA Middle Grades SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2017. Shane received the 2017 AERA Middle Grades SIG Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research ($250.00).
Dissertation: Finding their voices: A narrative inquiry of sixth-grade Lumbee males who struggle with reading

Dr. Shea Kerkhoff (2016), (Chair, Hiller Spires) Assistant Professor of Secondary Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education
NC State Graduate Research Symposium, 1st place winner for College of Education; William Friday Research Fellowship recipient, $8000. Shea received the 2016 NC State Graduate Research Symposium Award, First place winner for the College of Education ($500.00); 2015 William Friday Research Fellowship Award ($8000); finalist for the International Literacy Association for the Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2017.
Dissertation: Designing Global Futures: A mixed methods study to develop and validate the teaching for global readiness scale.

Dr. Christine Christianson (2015), (Co-Chairs, Ruie Pritchard and Angela Wiseman), Assistant Professor, Ferrum College.
Dissertation: Adolescent authors: A case study of one urban high school English teacher’s memoir-writing and publishing curriculum.

Dr. Erin Culpepper Edwards (2015), (Chair, Hiller Spires; Co-chair, Kristin Conradi), IT Specialist, Franklin County.
Dissertation: Exploring teachers’ beliefs about reading standards: A Q-methodology study.

Dr. Sonya Massengill (2015), (Chair, Carl Young), Department Chair & High School English Teacher, Wake Christian Academy.
Dissertation: High school writing experiences, writing self-efficacy, and composing from multiple sources: A mixed methods study.

Dr. Melissa Wrenn (2015), (Chair, Angela Wiseman), Assistant Professor, East Carolina University
Dissertation: Text-Based Discussions in a Racially Diverse, Lower-Tracked Fifth Grade Classroom.

Dr. Melissa Bartlett (2014), (Chair, Hiller Spires), High School English Teacher, Person County. CED Dissertation Proposal Award, 2013.
Dissertation: High school students reading informational texts: A comparison of written and video response modalities.

Dr. Clarice Moran (2014), (Chair, Carl Young), Assistant Professor, English Education, Appalachian State University
Dissertation: Changing paradigms: A mixed methods study of flipping the English language arts classroom.

Dr. Meghan Liebfreund (2014), (Chair, Kristin Conradi; Co-chair, Hiller Spires), Assistant Professor, Towson University
Dissertation: Success with information text comprehension: An examination of underlying factors.
2015 IRA Outstanding Dissertation Award

Dr. Naomi Kraut (2013), (Chair, Carl Young), Instructor, NC State University College of Education
Dissertation: What it means to feel prepared to teach: A mixed methods investigation into preservice English language arts teachers’ perceptions of preparedness.

Dr. Meixun Zheng (2012), (Chair, Hiller Spires), Adjunct Faculty, University of the Pacific.
NCSU Graduate School Research Award, 1st Place for College of Education.
2013 Outstanding Dissertation Award for Middle Grades SIG, AERA.
Dissertation: Fifth graders’ flow experience in a game-based science learning environment.

Dr. Lisa Hervey (2011), (Chair, Hiller Spires), Research Associate, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.
CED Dissertation Proposal First Place Award; NCSU Graduate School Research Award, 2nd Place Finalist for College of Education.
Dissertation: Between the notion and the act: Veteran teachers’ TPACK and practice in 1:1 settings.