Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Scot Danforth, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dawn Hunter, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Noah Asher Golden, Ph.D.


This qualitative research study sought to understand the affordances and limitations of a systemic functional linguistics (SFL) approach to teaching composition at the community college level. The study took place over the course of a semester in two developmental college composition classes using the language of SFL to teach writing through multimodal assignments. The study was developed in response to the increasing diversity in writing skills and educational goals of students in the community college composition class. The increase in diversity is a result of legislation in California that restructures developmental class offerings and affects placement in the transfer-level composition class. The findings of the study support that the sociocultural focus of SFL can empower students while also providing tangible instructional benefits for instructors. SFL supports equality in curriculum and fosters authentic, student-centered writing that prepares students for future writing situations. SFL also supports instruction by providing structured writing support, challenging students to expand writing skills, and preparing students to write for different disciplines in higher education. SFL as a framework for instruction has the potential to narrow the gap in writing skills among students, establish a shared language to discuss texts, and support 21st writing demands. More research into the applications of SFL in higher education contexts is needed to support the inclusion of SFL in curriculum.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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