A New CCC to Kickstart the New School Year

This post is written by member Jens Lloyd, editorial assistant for College Composition and Communication.

 College Composition and Communication publishes scholarship in rhetoric and composition studies that supports college teachers in reflecting on and improving their practices in teaching writing. Our September 2017 issue, available online and in print, launches volume 69 of the journal. We hope its contents provide you with inspiration for the new school year!

Heather Bastian opens the issue by sharing her research into how students respond to unconventional assignments. Bastian’s article, which is free online even to nonmembers, provides some clear-sighted strategies for accommodating students’ affective responses to assignments that, for one reason or another, don’t conform to their expectations for academic writing. Next, Laurie Grobman reflects on a racially charged controversy that she confronted while supervising a community writing partnership that involved undergraduates conducting archival research. In the face of enduring questions about systemic racism, Grobman’s thoughtful and complicated account of how she responded to the controversy will prove beneficial to teacher-scholars facing similar dilemmas in classrooms, community settings, and elsewhere in their professional lives.

Articles by David M. Grant and Steven Fraiberg probe the boundaries of what we (don’t) know about writing and rhetoric. Displaying tremendous dexterity in moving between indigenous rhetorics and contemporary scholarship on new materialisms, Grant challenges us to more fully and more fundamentally account for nonhumans in our day-to-day communicative interactions. Fraiberg’s article, based on a long-term case study of DaVe, an individual whom Fraiberg began interviewing in the late 2000s, pieces together a constellation of artifacts drawn largely from DaVe’s time in the Israeli military to offer a portrait of how complex transmedia and translingual literacy practices unfold across various modes and genres.

Jim Webber considers recent debates about educational reform, focusing specifically on how literacy professionals respond by invoking the philosophical tradition of pragmatism. Ultimately, in the hopes of expanding rather than shutting down public deliberation about these regimes of reform, Webber advances a version of pragmatism that he dubs, via Dewey, artful critique.

To conclude this issue, Karen Rowan reviews three books about rhetorical education in diverse settings, and 2016 CCCC Exemplar Award winner Sondra Perl reflects on her illustrious career.

We are thrilled that all September authors are featured in our podcast series. Check out these interviews for additional insights into the scholarship published in CCC. We welcome feedback and questions about the journal (and our podcasts series!) at ccceditors@gmail.com.

Jens Lloyd is a PhD candidate at UC Irvine.

The Naylor Workshop in Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies

This post is written by members Joyce Kinkead and Jessie L. Moore.

We believe passionately in the transformative power of meaningful, authentic research for our students. Both of us are aware that students in English often don’t tend to think of themselves as researchers. Rather, they see themselves as rehashing others’ scholarly works. Part of the fault in their perception lies with us. We, as faculty members, may not have articulated to our students the methodology of inquiry in our fields. But we are working to change that. Joyce has written the first textbook for undergraduate students on how to undertake research in writing studies: Researching Writing: An Introduction to Research Methods.  In collaboration with the CCCC Committee on Undergraduate Research, Jessie oversees the annual CCCC Undergraduate Researcher Poster Session, where students have the opportunity to participate in a national, professional conference. Students also can publish in the innovative Young Scholars in Writing, a journal that was created over ten years ago, among other places.

Student Megan Knowles presenting her finished research project poster at CCCC in 2016.

While opportunities for undergraduates to present and, to a lesser degree, publish their work exist, opportunities for undergraduates to gather and share research in process are rare.  That’s where the Naylor Workshop for Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies, initiated at York College in Pennsylvania by Dominic DelliCarpini, comes in. The two of us have served as plenary speakers and mentors for the annual workshop. This weekend boot camp for students is exhilarating, energizing, and exhausting.

About 30 students are selected for the workshop from applications filed in the spring. Many of them are generously funded through the Naylor Endowment. The endowment also funds faculty mentors—like us. The weekend is organized so that participants arrive in time for an opening plenary on Friday evening that outlines the process: finding and narrowing a research question; reviewing the literature; determining appropriate methods and tools; drafting a plan and a timeline; and preparing for an initial report.

Prior to this date, mentors have been assigned a small group of student researchers and have communicated with them long distance about their projects. The intensive workshop experience continues on Saturday with small group sessions in which mentors listen to students’ individual research questions and begin providing feedback. Students write their research questions on whiteboards and revisit them consistently throughout the workshop, as the questions may change considerably as the students re-envision their projects. Yes, research is recursive—just like writing.

As faculty mentors, often collaborating with Naylor alumni, we lead a series of workshops that highlight tools and methods to conduct research and provide information about research processes, beginning with an overview of qualitative and quantitative methods and extending through resources for reviews of literature and advice on dissemination. Let’s face it: English majors can be frightened of numbers. Quantitative methods like coding can be daunting. The undergraduate researchers begin gathering tools needed to undertake research: participant-observation, interviews, surveys, and focus groups as ways to gather information. They learn about the difference between causal and correlational relationships and standard coding scales. By the end of the day, they have drafted a revised research plan.

Student Megan Knowles with her draft poster at the Naylor Workshop in September, 2015.

Sunday morning is, well, exciting. Students present their work. Their posters are printed for a gallery walk, and they deliver elevator pitches about their projects. One student presented on his research on middle school writers, which was so advanced and professional that Joyce told him, frankly, that she could see him as a future president of NCTE. In fact, our crystal ball on these students’ futures is quite clear: they are engaged in meaningful questions about writing. These are our future literacy educators.

Why are we so keen on undergraduate research? It has been deemed one among a small set of “high impact educational practices.” According to George D. Kuh, “The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.” Another researcher, David Lopatto cited the many benefits of undergraduate research: “Research experiences enhance intellectual skills such as inquiry and analysis, reading and understanding primary literature, communication, and teamwork. . . . Undergraduate researchers learn tolerance for obstacles faced in the research process, how knowledge is constructed, independence, increased self-confidence, and a readiness for more demanding research. These benefits are an advantage in any career path.”

The students we worked with drew their own conclusions about how they grew professionally, suggesting that the Naylor Workshop helped them

  • Learn inquiry strategies
  • Grapple with interesting questions
  • Develop professional relationships
  • Construct knowledge
  • Pursue disciplinary interests
  • Gain self-knowledge
  • Find new questions
  • Challenge themselves
  • Pursue their passions
  • Build self-confidence

The Naylor Workshop provides its scholars with an opportunity to move from intuitive understandings of their work as writing fellows, tutors, and/or writing majors toward a deeper knowledge of the methodologies of our discipline. They are joining the conversation through a supportive and challenging learning environment. We are so pleased to be part of this transformative experience.

About the Authors:

Jessie L. Moore served as the inaugural plenary speaker for the Naylor Workshop in 2014. She is the director for the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University (@CEL_Elon) and Associate Professor of Professional Writing & Rhetoric.

 

Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English, Utah State University, was invited in that role for the 2015 Naylor Workshop. In addition to the leadership of Dominic DelliCarpini, we also acknowledge collaborator Megan Schoettler, who has assisted with the Naylor Workshop, beginning as an undergraduate at York and continuing as a graduate student at Miami University.

Putting Students in Charge of Building the Classroom Community

As teachers, we usually go into the first weeks of school assuming full responsibility for building the learning space. But what happens if we put some of that responsibility in our students’ hands instead? Our new students come to us full of ideas, stories, expertise, and curiosity. These are the essential materials for a strong classroom community. Here are a few ideas for how to put those raw materials to use:

Have you tried these or other community building activities? Tell us what works!

September 2017 #NCTEchat: Elevating Student Voice and Choice

Join Jason Augustowski @MisterAMisterA and the #bowtieboys tomorrow, Sunday, September 18, at 8 p.m. ET, for a Twitter chat around “Elevating Student Voice and Choice.”

The #bowtieboys are a group of students led by Jason Augustowski from high schools in Northern Virginia committed to educational research with a focus on student engagement. The content of their tweets, blog posts, and YouTube videos are the amalgamation of hundreds of students’ thoughts and feelings regarding the current state of American schooling.The #bowtieboys believe that a strong partnership between student and teacher, whether in

The #bowtieboys believe that a strong partnership between student and teacher, whether in design of instruction, assessment, environment, or management style, will render the most productive and engaging classroom for all parties. These students are working at home and on the road (including speaking at the NCTE Annual Convention) to change the face of American education for the better.

The #bowtieboys will be participating in #NCTEchat this Sunday:

Ryan Beaver @RBeaver05  http://ryanbeaverbtb.blogspot.com
Sam Fremin @thesammer88  http://samfreminbtb.blogspot.com/
Spencer Hill @spencerrhill99  http://spencerbtb.blogspot.com/
Ryan Hur @RyanHur09  http://ryanhurbtb.blogspot.com/
Jack Michael  @jackmichael776 http://bowtieboyjack.blogspot.com/
Joe O’Such @Joe_Osuch  http://bowtieboyjoe.blogspot.com/
Sean Pettit @seanpettit9  http://seanpettitbtb.blogspot.com/
Kellen Pluntke @kellenpluntke  http://kellenbowtieboy.blogspot.com/
Christian Sporre  @CSporre  http://christiansporrebtb.blogspot.com/
Dawson Unger @dawsonunger  http://btb-dawson.blogspot.com/

 

Here’s what we’ll discuss during the chat:

Q1: What steps do you take at the beginning of the year to foster a productive relationship with your students?

Q2: How do you connect and build a rapport with students who appear to be unengaged?

Q3: What leadership opportunities do you provide for your students?

Q4: How do you teach the standards while ensuring student voice and choice is at the forefront?

Q5: What resources do you use to ensure that your students feel heard and promote choice?

Q6: What is one takeaway from tonight’s chat that you will try to use soon?

We hope to see you tomorrow night at #NCTEchat!