The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe deaf college students’ perceptions of their experiences learning academic English literacy vis à vis their teachers. The study examined the narrated academic English literacy acquisition experiences and practices of 11 deaf and hard-of-hearing students at a hearing university with a large deaf student population. Through paradigmatic analysis of narrative data, the study located common themes, which revealed students’ perceptions of academic English literacy acquisition, particularly with regard to their teachers. Methods employed in the study were phenomenological interviewing and recursive analysis. The primary data sources were participant interviews and a focus group. Analysis was conducted through recursive interaction with the data, in which repeated reviews served to first elicit themes and meanings and then confirm interpretation of same. The study resulted in the following findings: Participants’ experiences resulted in a preference for instructors who are highly competent communicators, and these tended to be deaf instructors. Participants encountered communication challenges, including the inability of instructors to sign clearly or to understand what their students were saying to them, that restricted their learning. They also perceived instructors to hold expectations that were either too low, unclear, or rigid, which created internal contradictions between challenge and remediation. The study concluded by showing how understanding deaf college students’ perceptions of academic English literacy acquisition may inform and improve teaching practices with this population.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Department, Program, or Center

Communication Studies and Services (NTID)


RIT – Main Campus