Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Melissa Sherfinski

Committee Co-Chair

Samuel Stack

Committee Member

D. Jake Follmer

Committee Member

William Beasley


American Sign Language interpreter education must center the Deaf community in the learning environment. In a distance-education environment, the task of connecting students with the Deaf community is challenging due to time constraints and geographic separation. In order to facilitate meaningful, engaging, experiential online learning, I developed a critical community of practice (CCoP), similar to Lave & Wenger’s (1991) community of practice (CoP). I facilitate my research through one primary research question and three subquestions: (1) How does integration of the critical community of practice framework impact students’ learning in an online language-interpreting-based learning environment? (a) How does critical discourse analysis enhance students’ English-to-American Sign Language interpretations? (b) How does self-reflection influence the development of interpreting skills? (c) How do students perceive and then self-actualize the role of an American Sign Language interpreter?

If interpreter education programs strive to graduate competent interpreters, interpreter educators must focus on the development of critical consciousness, the interpersonal capacity for interpreters to relate the impact of their notions, biases, and perspectives to the interpreting interaction to render messages faithfully. In this study, students analyzed and acted based on their personal experiences through various activities, including self-assessment, reflective vlogs, and peer feedback, aimed at promoting and connecting their usage of critical discourse analysis in interpreting.

This project employs qualitative research methods, digital micro-ethnography and action research. I study the culture of our digital, distance learning environment and study how, in this context, I respond to student progress and challenges. The results demonstrate the benefits of critical discourse analysis, and I analyze and discuss my experiences to yield insight into how future iterations of distance interpreter education courses could be improved to increase critical consciousness. I find that the critical community of practice facilitates meaningful discussions, which leads students (and the instructor) to enhanced insight into interpreting decisions.