Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Katherine Richardson Bruna


Given the rise in diversity across college campuses, campus climate surveys have recommended universities offer diversity courses to help improve sensitivity towards diversity. This dissertation project looks at one of these university diversity courses and how students resist social justice issues in their written reflection papers. Using critical discourse analysis (CDA), informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), this project specifically analyzes which linguistic devices students use in their reflections to construe a resistant tenor. This study identifies three primary linguistic devices in student writing: personalization through pronoun use, use of modal verbs, and use of declarative sentence structure. Together, I argue these three devices achieve a discourse characterized by a Register of Resistance. This dissertation concludes that understanding student resistance from the linguistic lens, provided by SFL and CDA, affords an important opportunity to (re)conceptualize teaching and learning in diversity courses meant to improve campus climates. An implication drawn from the research is that students may benefit from increasing their critical language awareness by analyzing their own writing in order to recognize how they participate consciously or unconsciously in discourses which serve to (re)produce social inequities.


Copyright Owner

Kathryn Suzanne Jaekel



Date Available


File Format


File Size

107 pages