Marlene Asselin

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Language Acquisition and Development
International Development
Cultural Institutions (Museums, Libraries, etc.)

Research Interests

early literacy
literacy and international development
libraries and education

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
The new literacies of Web 2.0 : a case study of one school district (2011)

While we know that youth are increasingly using the Internet for school purposes like gathering information for assignments, research is just beginning to identify the actual Internet processes and practices of adolescents when learning. This study joins the theoretical conversation surrounding New Literacies Theory by combining the perspectives that Web 2.0 is a new literacy, that the new knowledge economy requires youth to be literate in new ways, and that Web 2.0 is a democratic medium. This is a case study using the mixed methods of interviewing, participant observation, and surveys. The goal of the case study school district was to implement digital literacies in its schools. The principal at the focal school had adopted this goal and was encouraging teachers to implement Web 2.0 tools. Survey findings showed that the majority of teachers were not using Web 2.0 tools in their practice. However, the practices of three teachers who were using Web 2.0 tools were investigated. Findings showed that these teachers used Web 2.0 tools in both new literacy ways and traditional ways that simply took a former practice and technologized it. Findings further showed that the students were not frequently using the Internet in ways that engendered practices associated with new literacies. This was partly attributed to the fact that teachers were not using these literacies in schools. Descriptive statistics and t-tests showed statistically significant differences between many of students’ self- and school-selected practices. Most of the tools were used more frequently for self-selected reasons, whereas only wikis were used more often for school-selected practices for both accessing and contributing to information. Also, students accessed the web for information more often than they contributed to it. This practice matched that of their teachers. The focus group interview showed that students’ self-selected Internet practices were more participatory and social whereas their school-selected practices were more passive. This study extends the developing New Literacies Theory by proposing that no one form of literacy supersedes or holds more value than another. It also suggests that we take care not to devalue existing forms of literacy when we begin to integrate new forms.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
A female refugee’s investment in multiple literacies post-migration (2016)

As the immigration and refugee intake rates continue to rise in Canada, English Language Learning (ELL) schools, centres and programs strive to keep pace with the demand. ELL educators are being propelled to think and teach in new ways that meet the needs of learners living in a digital age. Some learners arrive with competency in English language literacies and/or digital literacies, while others do not. For learners who possess minimal traditional print based and/or digital literacies, integrating into modern Canadian society can prove extremely challenging. This case study explores one such learner’s engagement with ELL and other literacies in a multicultural, modern urban centre on the West Coast of Canada. Semi-structured interviews, informal observations and conversations were the methods used to provide a holistic overview of the participant’s language learning process. The findings of this research demonstrate how identity is linked to investment in ELL as a means to increase economic, cultural and/or social capital. When the dominant ideology positioned the participant as an outsider because of her low level of proficiency in spoken English, she was prevented access to meaningful employment and denied a sense of independence, leading her to be creative in constructing an “imagined identity” that would better her life chances. Similarly, she was silenced and excluded from online spaces and membership in a discourse community because of a lack of digital literacy. The participant also struggled to “read” the sociocultural literacy of her new environment and felt positioned as an outsider, unable to judge situations and people accurately. While her English language literacy development was limited, relative to her classmates, over the course of her two-year study, she did eventually develop the sociocultural literacy necessary to evaluate her life prospects and construct a new identity, which led to an increase in her symbolic capital and overall well-being.

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