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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
Pursue disciplinary interests
Find new questions
Pursue their passions
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.
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:
Our Classroom: Writing an Owner’s Manual
Students write an owner’s manual that helps them get to know their classroom, provides them with a sense of ownership, and lets others know about their classroom.
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:
If there is one impression I try to leave with students who are in my courses, it is that they have a responsibility to engage with public issues and to put their school-based knowledge and literate practices into the service of local, national, and global communities. Because my approach to teaching involves students engaging with public issues, my daily, lived experiences become an important component of my lesson planning; they become opportunities for pedagogical invention and reflection on the ways I might invite my students to “go public.”
I see an advertisement for an upcoming art exhibit and wonder if I will ask students in my Visual Rhetoric class to step off campus to explore, connect with, and learn from their local community. I attend a forum on social justice and student success and wonder how I might develop a service-learning partnership with our local chapter of Black Girls Code. I read frustrating headlines that frame young people as disengaged and disillusioned with politics and begin planning a digital activism assignment as an opportunity for students to go public with their writing and to serve public causes, while also enhancing their educational experiences. These kinds of pedagogical musings have, over time, led me to investigate what teaching methods work best in helping students successfully learn how to write, and I have come to see the value in asking students to “go public” with their writing and experiences in order to become more engaging, reflective, and articulate citizens within their local communities and beyond.
In my recently published book, Public Pedagogy in Composition Studies(2016), I draw on the wealth of knowledge and innovation from writing teachers and administrators across the country to document the ways they go public with their writing pedagogy. Based on the case studies I conducted at Oberlin College, Syracuse University, and the University of Arizona, I define public pedagogy in composition studies as an approach to the teaching of writing that values the educative potential for public sites, communities, and persons beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom and/or campus community. These values initiate moves to go public by relocating composition teaching and learning within increasingly public spheres. Public pedagogies often require students to encounter new or unfamiliar places or to approach familiar publics from a new perspective. My usage of the term public pedagogy draws on theories from education and curriculum studies, as I advocate for the umbrella concept of publics to both represent a common language for the public work we do within composition studies and to expand our sense of what it means (and where) to go public.
What I’ve found from talking with teachers and program administrators is that going public can have a deeply meaningful impact on students’ learning, even if the experiences of going beyond the classroom are disorienting at times. For example in Chapter 2, I look at how Jan Cooper and Mary Garvin partnered to create an interdisciplinary field-based writing course at Oberlin College. They asked students to go public by visiting rural locations, collecting ecological data, and interviewing residents in a nearby watershed for a community-based publication. I also examine how Crystal Fodrey, teaching first-year and advanced composition courses at the University of Arizona, prompted students to spatially critique a local place of their choosing, resulting in provocative analyses of tattoo parlors, classrooms, and neighborhoods. These and other sample assignments throughout the book demonstrate the value of public knowledge from community members not traditionally associated with schools, and they show how prompting students to engage with unfamiliar publics can expand their views of the world. Writing, then, becomes an important conduit for students to engage with public persons and communities around them.
The epigraph at the start of Public Pedagogy in Composition Studies is from Peter Mortensen, who, in his 1998 article “Going Public,” argued “We must go public. And we can.” Mortensen believes, and I agree, that the work of teaching and researching writing has the real potential to “clarify and even improve the prospects of literacy in democratic culture,” but to have an impact, Mortensen argues, we must work within more expansive, inclusive, and public forums. And, given our current cultural moment, I believe it is essential to prepare students for critical thinking, sharp discernment, and civic engagement within our communities. Mortensen’s call to go public is both a challenge and a comfort as I plan to, once again, embark with my students on a course of study that directly engages with our public communities.
Ashley J. Holmes is assistant professor of English at The Georgia State University where she teaches first-year composition and undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetoric and composition. She has published peer-reviewed essays in English Journal, Community Literacy Journal, Reflections, Kairos, and Ubiquity, and she is currently a Section Editor with Kairos. She has been an NCTE member since 2005.