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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 50, No. 2, November 2015

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Table of Contents

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Editors’ Introduction: The Teaching of English [FREE ACCESS]

    Ellen Cushman and Mary M. Juzwik

  • Silence as Shields: Agency and Resistances among Native American Students in the Urban Southwest

    Timothy J. San Pedro

    Abstract: This article discusses findings from a three-year ethnographic study of an ethnic studies course called Native American literature, which began during the passing of legislation that banned the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona’s public and charter schools. The data analyzed here explore the ways students use silence as a form of critical literacy—or critical silent literacies—in response to racial microaggressions enacted by their peers, their teachers, or a combination of both. This framing of silence questions common assumptions that Native American students aresilent because of their biological, inherent, and/or cultural “traits.” Challenging such assumptions,Native American students in this study reveal that as they attempt to voice their ideas, they are repeatedly silenced because their knowledges counter the dominant settler knowledges taught in public schools. As a result, they discuss how their silence has been used over time as a resistancestrategy to shield themselves, their identities, and their family and community knowledges from dominant, monocultural knowledges with which they did not agree.

  • “We Always Talk about Race”: Navigating Race Talk Dilemmas in the Teaching of Literature

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

    Abstract: There is considerable confusion in contemporary society when it comes to talking about race.Because of this confusion, race talk in schools can be fraught with difficulty, leading to problematic conversations, disconnections, and ultimately student disengagement. While studies in psychology,sociology, and linguistics have considered the role of race in discourse, there have been fewer of these investigations in English education, especially research on the teaching of literature. This article looks closely at the classroom talk of two veteran English teachers—one an African American man,the other a White woman—in a racially diverse high school, showing how teachers employ different strategies to navigate similarly fraught conversations. Taking an interactional ethnographic approach, I demonstrate ways that conversations about race that emerged from literature units in both classrooms opened up opportunities for some students to participate, while constraining and excluding others. The results of the study revealed that the two teachers navigated these dilemmas through tactical and strategic temporary alignments of actions and discourse, but in both classes, silence and evasion characterized moments of racial tension. As a growing number of researchers and teacher educators provide workshops and materials for teachers interested in classroom discourse studies, supporting new and experienced teachers’ investigations in this area may ultimately prove fruitful not only for teaching and learning, but also for race relations.

  • Disinviting Deficit Ideologies: Beyond “That’s Standard,” “That’s Racist,” and “That’s Your Mother Tongue”

    Melinda J. McBee Orzulak

    Abstract: Current research suggests that attention to language variation in teacher preparation can promote equity and narrow achievement gaps, particularly for African American students. However,persistent ideologies about language and race can stymie teachers’ desires for equitable teaching.Teachers who take up linguistically responsive positions that value student language variation still struggle in the moments of enactment due to expectations that they serve as gatekeepers for“standard” English(es). In this article, I conceptualize these struggles as linguistic ideological dilemmas (LIDs) and use discourse analytic and qualitative methods to present illustrations of preservice English teachers’ LIDs as they grapple with deficit language ideologies in relation to course work about language variation. In the focal illustration, I use positioning theory to illustrate the LIDs faced by a student teacher when responding to a student’s blog writing that included features of African American English. The findings show how this participant and others hadlimited awareness of how they were positioned racially until the moment of teaching in which they struggled to articulate and enact linguistically informed principles; in some cases, this positionality led to avoidance of future discussions of race and language. The findings advance past scholarship through generative description of students’ internalized deficit language ideologies and teachers’ struggles with implementation related to valuing language variation. Findings show the affordances and limitations of code-switching for addressing language variation in classroom interactions and the need for preparation about when, how, and why to have conversations about language variation, including greater understanding of language-related ideological triggers.

  • The Contributions of Writing to Learning and Development: Results from a Large-Scale Multi-institutional Study

    Paul Anderson, Chris M. Anson, Robert M. Gonyea, and Charles Paine

    Abstract: Conducted through a collaboration between the Council of Writing Program Administrators(CWPA) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), this study identified andtested new variables for examining writing’s relationship to learning and development. EightyCWPA members helped to establish a consensus model of 27 effective writing practices. EightyUS baccalaureate institutions appended questions to the NSSE instrument based on these 27practices, yielding responses from 29,634 first-year students and 41,802 seniors. Confirmatoryfactor analysis identified three constructs: Interactive Writing Processes, Meaning-Making WritingTasks, and Clear Writing Expectations. Regression analyses indicated that the constructs werepositively associated with two sets of established constructs in the regular NSSE instrument—DeepApproaches to Learning (Higher-Order Learning, Integrative Learning, and Reflective Learning)and Perceived Gains in Learning and Development as defined by the institution’s contributionsto growth in Practical Competence, Personal and Social Development, and General EducationLearning—with effect sizes that were consistently greater than those for the number of pageswritten. These were net results after controlling for institutional and student characteristics, aswell as other factors that might contribute to enhanced learning. The study adds three empiricallyestablished constructs to research on writing and learning. It extends the positive impact of writing beyond learning course material to include Personal and Social Development. Although correlational, it can provide guidance to instructors, institutions, accreditors, and other stakeholders because of the nature of the questions associated with the effective writing constructs.

  • Appendixes to “The Contributions of Writing to Learning and Development”

  • Forum: A Tribute to George Hillocks, Jr. [FREE ACCESS]

    Peter Smagorinsky, Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, Michael W. Smith, and Carol D. Lee

    Abstract: George Hillocks, Jr., a major figure in literacy studies and teacher education, passed away in November 2014. This tribute includes essays by four of his former students.

  • Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English

    Abstract: The expert teams compiling this annual bibliography looked for major or large studies that held significant implications for teaching English language arts, as well as research that might lead to new insights into the paradigms or methodological practices within a given field.

  • Abstracts in French

  • Abstracts in Korean

  • Abstracts in Mandarin

  • Abstracts in Russian

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts