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Promising Researcher Award Recipient

2014 Promising Researcher Award Winners

The awards committee wishes to congratulate Rebecca Lorimer Leonard and Gholnecsar Muhammad for being selected from an outstanding field of promising researchers this year. The papers were rated based on their statements of research problems, reviews of relevant literature, methodology and data analysis, grounding of evidence, significance of results, and clarity and style.

The committee appreciates Dr. Leonard’s efforts in highlighting the fact that fixity continues to be a critical element in limiting the extent to which language and literacy can provide anyone, but especially individuals like the multilingual and multinational women she met at a community writing center, with the kind of social mobility and dexterity that continues to fascinate us. Dr. Leonard’s paper takes research in multilingual literacies to a new level by critiquing the romanticizing of “literacies on the move” and suggesting that educators need to “leverage” linguistic histories to “better support multilingual writers” as they adjust dispositions toward language norms and build meta-awareness about their moves within and across languages. This is a much needed piece that addresses the needs of teacher educators—as well as researchers and practitioners in English education, literacy studies, rhetoric, sociolinguistics, and linguistic anthropology--all of whom will gain invaluable insight from Dr. Leonard’s critical analysis.

Dr. Muhammad’s study of a summer writing group comprised of African American adolescent girls clearly articulates a research problem and reviews pertinent scholarship in a compelling manner. The committee values the specificity with which the methods of collecting and analyzing data were articulated. Its larger effort to counter the negative images of African American adolescent girls that are out there in the world is an important one, and one we wish to support. The paper also does a splendid job of reminding teacher educators that we must move beyond assumptions that lived experiences are our own singular experiences and understand what it actually means to engage students in writing "as social action." Dr. Muhammad’s stories of history and identity contribute to the building of a genre that reminds educators just how much work we still have left to do. Above all, the committee is moved by her efforts to counter the usual pathologizing of the lives of adolescent African American girls by allowing them to speak for themselves.


Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
Traveling Literacies: Multilingual Writing on the Move

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard is an assistant professor in the English Department at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research, situated in the intersection of literacy studies, intercultural rhetoric, and sociolinguistics, asks how people on the move are propelled forward and held back by their writing practices as they attempt to mobilize their language and literacy practices under conditions of globalization. She is currently working on a book-length project that traces the writing practices of 25 multilingual immigrants across their languages and the places they have lived around the world. Her work has appeared in College English, Research in the Teaching of English, Community Literacy Journal, and the Routledge collection Literacy as Translingual Practice. She and two co-researchers recently were awarded a CCCC Research Initiative Grant for their project “The Language Repertoires of First-Year Writers: A Cross-Institutional Study of Multilingual Writers.” At UMass Amherst, Professor Lorimer Leonard directs the Writing Center and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on multilingual writing and global English.

Gholnecsar Muhammad
In Search for a Full vision: Writing Representations of African American Adolescent Girls


Gholnecsar Muhammad began her career as a reading, language arts, and history middle school teacher. After teaching in the classroom, she served as a school district curriculum supervisor and was responsible for K-12 literacy instruction, assessments, and professional development. Dr. Muhammad received her Ph.D. in Literacy, Language and Culture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests are situated in the social and historical foundations of literacy development among African Americans and writing representations among African American adolescent girls. She also explores literacy collaboratives to understand how writing pedagogy and the roles of writing can be advanced and reconceptualized in secondary classrooms. She became interested in this line of research when she led a summer writing institute with African American girls (Black Girls Write!) and examined literacy enactments from nineteenth century literary societies. She continues to explore how historical practices can be used with adolescent learners today. She has recently published articles in Urban Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and Black History Bulletin. Currently, Dr. Muhammad is an assistant professor at Georgia State University teaching in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education. She strives to shape the national conversation for educating youth who have been historically underserved and support the next generation of undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking practical and intellectual pathways to meet some of the most pressing challenges encountered in urban schools.


Apply for the 2015 Award

Past PRA Recipients

Amy Stornaiuolo, ‘Like two different worlds’: Teachers’ perspectives on social networking and schooling,”

Tisha Y. Lewis, "We txt 2 sty cnnectd: Digital literacies, Meaning-Making, and Activity Theory Systems between an African American mother and son."

2012 - Finalist
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, "Sustaining Culturally Responsive Discourse in Black and White: Negotiating Social Solidarities Through English Teacher Talk."

Jennifer Buehler, "'We Have a Culture of Failure Here": Analyzing the Production of School Culture in an Urban High School."  

Marcelle Haddix, "No Longer on the Margins: Researching the Hybrid Literate Identities of Black and Latina Preservice Teachers."

Steve Amendum, "Federally-Funded Reading Intervention and Reading Growth: Which Features Matter in High Poverty Schools?"

Elizabeth Dutro: "What 'Hard Times' Means: Mandated Curricula, Middle-Class Assumptions, and the Lives of Poor Children."

Amy Suzanne Johnson: "Literate Practice as Answerable Response: Sally Harris' Mandate for Literacy in the Rural South."

Leah Zuidema: "Give 'Em Some Space: Online Induction Networks for Beginning Teachers."

Tara Star Johnson: "Crossing the Line: When Pedagogical Relationships Go Awry."

Steven Talmy: "The cultural productions of the ESL student at Tradewinds High: Contingency, multidirectionality and identity in L2 socialization."

Amanda Thein: "She's not a prostitute!: Re-reading working-class girls' responses to literature throught an examination of interpretive practices.

Deborah Bieler: "Re-Imagining mentoring as Dialogic Praxis: using Discourse Analysis to Examine Student-Teacher/University Mentor Talk."

Jessica Zacher: "Analyzing children's social positioning and struggles for recognition in a classroom literacy event."

Victoria Haviland: "Things Get glossed Over: Rearticulating the Silencing Power of Whiteness in Education."

Beth L. Samuelson: "Ventriloquation in discussionso of student writing."

Mary Juzwik: “Narrative performance in teaching as a rhetoric of identification: A stylistic analysis of parallelism in “Violence was the way to go.”

Karen Macbeth: “Diverse, Unforeseen, and Quaint Difficulties:” The Sensible Responses of Novices Learning to Follow Instructions in Academic Writing.

Korina Jocson: “Bob Dylan and Hip Hop”: Hybrid Cultural and Literacy Practices in Youth Poetry Communities.

Maisha Tulivu Fisher: “Every city has soldiers”: The Role of Apprenticeship in
Participatory Literacy Communities”

Aria Razfar: “Repair: A Practice of Language Ideologies in Engish Language
Learner Classrooms”

2003 None Selected

Lorraine Cella: “Reading the Complex World: Students Approach The Scarlet
Letter from Multiple Perspectives.” West Wood School, New Jersey

Don Pedersen: “Question and Answer: Reading Nonfiction to Develop the
Persuasive Essay.”

Ronald Pitcock: “Let the Youths Beware!”: The Sponsorship of Early
Nineteenth-Century Native American Literacy.”  Texas Christian University,

Yolanda J. Majors, Ph.D.: “Shoptalk: Teaching and Learning in an African
American Hair Salon.”  The University of Georgia, Athens.

Jill Heinrich: “Boys’ Talk: Mediating Masculinity in the English Classroom.”
The University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Diane Downer Anderson:  “Casting Gender as Social Identity through Literacy
Practices: Third and Fourth Graders in Two Multi-Age Classrooms”,
Swarthmore College-Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Steven Bialostok:  “Discourses of Literacy: Cultural Models of White, Urban, Middle-Class Parents of Kindergarten Children”, University of Wyoming, Laramie

Cindy O’Donnell-Allen:  “Teaching with a Questioning Mind: The Development of a Teacher Research Group into a Discourse Community”, Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Dr. Su-Yueh Wu: “The Influence of Collectivism and Individualism on
Argumentative Writing by Chinese and North American”, Sponsor: Don Rubin, University of Georgia

Dr. Nell K. Duke: “3.6 Minutes Per Day: The Scarcity of Informational Texts in
First Grade”, Sponsor: Victoria Purcell-Gates, Harvard University

Dr. Chandra Adkins: “Challenging the Pluralism of Our Past: Presentism and
the Selective Tradition in Historical Fiction for Young People”, Sponsor: Joel
Taxel, University of Georgia

Professor Zhihui Fang: “Extending Literate Register Potential in Whole
Language and Code Emphasis Classrooms: A discourse Perspective on Young
Children’s Writing Development”, Sponsor: Beverly Cox, University of Florida

Dr. Lawrence R. Sipe: “The Construction of Literary Understanding by First
and Second Graders in Response to Picture Storybook Readalouds”, Sponsor:
Janet Hickman, University of Pennsylvania

Susi Long: “Learning to Get Along: Language and Literacy in a New Cultural
Setting”, University of South Carolina-Columbia

Cynthia Lewis: “The Social Drama of Literature Discussions in a Fifth/Sixth-
Grade Classroom”, Grinnell College-Iowa

Terry Underwood: “The Impact of a Portfolio Assessment System on the
Instruction, Motivation, and Achievement of Seventh and Eighth-Grade English
Language Arts Students in a Northern California Middle School”, Roseville-

Margaret J. Finders: “Just Girls’: Literacy and Allegiance in Junior High School”,  Purdue University-West Lafayette, Indiana

Jeffrey D. Wilhelm: “Reading is Seeing: Using Visual Response to Improve the
Literary Reading of Reluctant Readers”, Beaver Dam Middle School, Wisconsin

Steven Z. Athanases: “Beyond Silence and the Graceful Liberal Gesture: Urban Tenth Graders Discussing Literature and Diversity”, Stanford University-

Joy Pie-Lin Chung: “Language Socialization in a Clique of Chinese Immigrant
Students: An Enthnography of a Process of Social Identity Formation”, San

Elaine Chin: “Learning to Write the News”, University of Michigan

Cheri L. Williams: “The Language and Literacy Worlds of Three Profoundly
Deaf Preschool Children”, University of Cincinnati

Rebecca E. Burnett: “Conflict in the Collaborative Planning of Co-authors:
How Substantive Conflict, Representation of Task, and Dominance Relate to
High-Quality Documents”, Iowa State University

Anne DiPardo: “Nested Contexts: A Basic Writing Adjunct Program and the
Challenge of ‘Educational Equity’”, University of Iowa

Carol D. Lee:  “Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation: The
Pedagogical Implications of an African American Discourse Genre”

Cynthia Greenleaf:  “Technological Indeterminacy: The Role of Classroom
Writing Practices in Shaping Computer Use”, University of California-Berkeley

Peggy Trump Loofbourrow:  “Composition in the Context of the CAP: A Case
Study of the Influences of the California Assessment Program on the Life of One
Junior High School”, Castro Valley-California

John M. Ackerman:  “Reading, Writing, and Knowledge: The Role of
Disciplinary Knowledge in Comprehension and Composing”, University of Utah

William Sweigart:  “Classroom Talk as It Affects Process and Product Writing”,
Indiana University Southeast-New Albany

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