Research in the Teaching of English
RTE is the flagship research journal of NCTE.
Research in the Teaching of English
Vol. 52, No. 4, May 2018
Ellen Cushman, Heather Falconer, and Mary M. Juzwik
Christiane Donahue and Lynn Foster-Johnson
Framed by research on liminality, transition, and knowledge adaptation across writing contexts, this longitudinal study examines defined text features of postsecondary student writers as they move between a first-year writing course (focused on developing the rhetorical flexibility students need for academic success) and a first-year seminar (intended to gesture toward disciplinary writing perspectives while still focusing on first-year needs). Using a descriptive, single case study design with three replications, the sampling plan includes 156 students and 636 text samples. Texts were reliably hand-coded for the 7 text features and 38 accompanying facets (k = .78). Through use of generalized estimating equations, the design thus allows for granular analysis of the rhetorical moves that students make across courses. In terms of the text features and their facets, statistically significant differences are present in each replication as students move between the two courses and meet different writing expectations; these shifts are underscored by documented reoccurrence, or not, of the features and their facets between courses. Additionally, correlationanalysis provides a relational study of rhetorical moves that students make. The study suggests the need for extensive ongoing empirical research on textual features to deepen our understanding of student writing in terms of noticeable rhetorical differences in defined writing features, the transitions our students make in their texts as they work with articulated learning objectives, and the reuse or adaptation of learning that occurs across disciplinary settings.
Laura Wilder and Robert P. Yagelski
College students are often expected to perform a variety of sophisticated intellectual moves in their writing, yet there is little or no evidence that such expectations are reasonable. This study contributes to a growing number of corpus-based studies of student writing through an examination of students’ use of four cross-disciplinary analytic moves that research on writing across the curriculum has identified as valued in postsecondary academic discourse in essays written for a required first-year college writing course. Results indicate that few essays in the sample showed evidence of these analytic moves; instead, essays evidenced tendencies to treat serially separate sources with little synthesis and analysis. However, those essays in which cross-disciplinary analytic moves were present received higher grades from writing instructors, suggesting that the value placed on these analytic moves by writing instructors is congruent with the value placed on them in the disciplines. One possible implication of our findings may be that many students entering college are not developmentally ready for such writing tasks and fall back on traditional “research report” strategies that circumvent analysis. However, it may instead be the case that typical first-year writing instruction inadequately prepares students for disciplinary analytic writing tasks and that research is needed to develop new instructional approaches for this purpose.
Antero Garcia, Kristina Stamatis, and Mary Kelly
In this article, we consider how an ELA inquiry-based curriculum centered on technology provided avenues for students to share beliefs about their own identities and the world around them. Through classroom observations, interviews with students and teachers, and analysis of the work produced by students in three 9th-grade English classrooms, this study builds on existing assumptions about the role technology plays in schools. Rather than simply noting how technology enables and strengthens digital production practices and access in English classrooms, we argue that technology mediates student identities and helps students articulate the complex cultural experiences and beliefs that they bring daily into schools. Further, by exploring how student beliefs about identity and society were couched in statements about technology, this study connects English classroom discussions about technology to broader understandings of the world beyond schools. Through our analysis of student talk, student writing, and classroom observations, we identified three ways that students described technology. When engaging in the curriculum, students represented technology as invisible or in relation to humanity, and frequently explored the relationship between technology, society, and power. Ultimately, this study suggests that when considering how technology layers meanings of power within schools, we must view technology according to the domains in which it does and does not “count” in students’ eyes. The implementation of technology in English classrooms is far more complicated than the utilization of tools. It is about power, student identity, and positioning.
Immigrant adolescent male students and their identity negotiation remain under-examined in the field of language and literacy education research. This paper reports on a classroom discourse study examining the relationship between masculinity performances and language learning of one immigrant boy, Tiger, in one ESL classroom. Using discourse analysis of classroom interactions, field notes, and documents, I illustrate that Tiger stylized his L2 speech and appropriated the classroom language practice to perform a funny and “laddish” masculinity. I theorize his L2 stylization as “doing funny,” a discursive practice of performing a dominant form of masculinity to gain hegemonic power and an act of subverting the routinized and nonengaging language instruction for identity performance. His masculinity performances, deeply intertwined with the interactional process of teaching and learning of language, conflicted with the instructional goals set by the teacher, ultimately leading to him being identified as a “problem” student. This study underscores the need for teachers to be cognizant of the complexity in multilingual young men’s masculinity negotiation, to recognize the interdependence of identity performances and language learning, to disrupt boys’ internalized notions of masculinity, and to decenter the power and control between the student, the teacher, and the school.
Teachers in classrooms with linguistically diverse students face the difficult challenge of honoring students’ home languages and dialects while also helping students acquire Standardized English. This charge is particularly challenging because English classrooms have historically been sites where Standardized English is held up as the one correct version of English while all other forms of English are viewed as deviant, deficient, errors. This study explores the teaching and talk about language of five high school English teachers attempting to promote a critical understanding of language variation during a literature unit. Data from interviews and classroom observations illustrate how teachers grappled with dominant language ideologies during moments of teaching and talk about language. Despite their stated goals, all the teachers but one reinforced dominant language ideologies by drawing on the available discourses of the Standardized English master narrative that pervades English classrooms and society at large. Through careful attention to her speech, one teacher managed to craft a consistent counter-narrative that worked to highlight existing language hierarchies. Findings highlight teaching situations where language ideologies are particularly salient and demonstrate how different approaches to talk about language in those situations communicate different language ideologies. Implications for supporting teachers’ critical language teaching, including major ideological shifts toward thinking about language as a social process, are considered.