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Articles on Diversity Issues

Listed below are articles on this topic from the Campus Writing Program library. Short summaries and citations are provided when available.


Bender, Daniel. "Diversity Revisited, or Composition's Alien History." Rhetoric Review 12.1 (1993): 108-124.

Claims that classical writing practices, like imitation, can make writing instruction democratic in that writers will be more aware of culturally diverse audiences. Here, diversity is defined as the ability to think and speak in different cultural idioms. The use of models recognizes the importance of models and patterns-logic, for example. An overview of the history of classical composition pedagogy, especially of Latin writers, shows how different authors envisioned the writing process and how the writer interacted with the audience. Imitation of these authors helps students to become informed of their own roles within a community of writers and helps foster a better sense of cultural acceptance as a result of this new awareness.

Bizzell, Patricia. "Theories of Content."Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (45th, Nashville, TN, March 16-19, 1994).

Most instructors realize the impossibility of teaching composition divorced from content, but choosing readings for the course poses difficulties. Often, instructors do not consider the rhetorical goals of their readings when deciding upon content. In an attempt to teach tolerance, instructors may choose anthologies that priviledge minority writing at the expense of rhetorical goals. One solution might be to choose content that may educate students to be better communicators in a multicultural democracy. Selecting materials centered around historical moments that involve the rhetorical interaction between culture and perspectives would enable instructors to introduce students to multiculturalism within the context of a clear sense of purpose.

Claywell, Gina. "Non-Verbal Communication and Writing Lab Tutorials" The Writing Lab Newsletter 18.7 (1994): 13-14.

Research indicates that non-verbal behavior has a major impact upon communication situations, so in order to hold more effective tutorials, tutorial programs should try to implement ideas from fields such as psychology, speech communication, etc. Teachers reveal expectations for their students through "leakage," a complicated system of body language, and this leakage can affect the interaction between tutor and tutee. Although many people can control facial expressions, other channels of non-verbal communication (eye movements, distance, even dress) are often ignored. Furthermore, body language is also culturally determined, so even if tutors are careful of their movements, the students will interpret the body language according to their cultural backgrounds. Videotaping tutorial sessions would help tutors become more aware of their own system of gestures, and more attuned to the ramifications of these gestures for the tutorial situation. (Includes 11 references)

Curtis, Marcia, and Anne J.Herrington. "Diversity in Required Writing Courses." Promoting Diversity in College Classrooms: New Directions for Teaching and Learning No. 52. Ed. Maurianne Adams. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992. 71-84.

Summarizes development of culturally diverse curriculum for a freshman comp course. Also describes assignments used toencourage students to deal with cultural/ethnic/etc. diversity.

Dasenbrock, Reed Way. "Why Read Multicultural Literature? An Arnoldian Perspective." College English 61 (1999): 691-701.

Argues that reading multicultural literature is "good" because it engages the reader in the type of cultural critique advocated by Matthew Arnold. Arnold's position is often unfairly represented as being based upon a timeless sense of aesthetic superiority when it really calls for a constant reassessment of what should be included in the canon. In this sense, reading multicultural literature is good for Anglos because it provides an encounter with a disvalued viewpoint and forces the reader to confront their notion of their own identity and culture. Similarly, reading multicultural literature is good for students from minority backgrounds because it forces them to engage with their own values in somewhat the same critical fashion.

Goldberger, Nancy R., Blythe McV. Clinchy, Mary F. Belenky, and Jill M. Tarule. "Women's Epistemology: On Gaining a Voice." Handwritten citation" Review of Personality and Social Psychology, in press." 1986.

Describes results of analysis of interviews with 135 women of varying ages, educational backgrounds, and cultural/ethnic backgrounds. Identifies 5 ways of knowing in these women: silence, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and constructed knowledge. Identifies factors that lead to change in women's voice and sense of authority.

Hum, Sue. "`Yes, We Eat Dog Back Home': Constrasting Disciplinary Discourse and Praxis on Diversity." JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 19.4 (1999):569-87.

Although composition claims to embrace diversity, it has failed to achieve a critical democracy. In order to do so, composition must address three things. First, composition must eliminate even such well-meaning discrimination as having the Other writer about her experience as Other. Second, disciplinary rewards should recognize difference, rather than seek to erase it. Finally, the discipline needs to recognize that the Other cannot be absorbed into the dominant paradigm. Otherness continually subverts the tendency of the dominant culture to assimilate difference. Only when change occurs on a multitude of levels, eliminating the either-or approach, will a critical democracy emerge in the classroom and in the academy at large.

Karuri, Wangeci JoAnne. "Must We Always Grin and Bear It?"Writing Center Perspectives. Ed. Stay, Byron L., Christina Murphy, Eric H. Hobson. Emmitsburg, MD: NWCA Press, 1995. 71-83.

Tutors are often challenged by student papers with offensive content or ideology. Responses to these papers can be categorized as falling into confrontation strategies (direct, indirect, or subtle) or avoidance strategies. A third approach, one in which the tutor attempts to understand the background and purposes of the writer, yields more fruitful results. This insight will lead to effective conferences.

Kramarae, Cheris. "Women as a Muted Group." Women and Men Speaking: Frameworks for Analysis. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, 1981. 1-32.

Presents a theory that women are muted because they cannot express their experience in our language (which has terms only for the dominant male experience). Examines the differences in verbal skill between men and women, and the frequency of misunderstandings between men and women. Discusses women's verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Hairston, Maxine. "Diversity, Ideology, and Teaching Writing." College Composition and Communication 43.2 (1992): 179-193.

Warns against a trend she's noticed: the use of composition courses as political tools for social reform rather than student-centered writing workshops. Argues that literary critics and theory-crazy grad students have wrongly infused ideology into the teaching of writing. Suggests that a culturally-inclusive curriculum can be had by focusing on the experiences of the students rather than by forcing a 'multiculturalist' agenda.

Lyons, Scott Richard. "Rhetorical Sovereignty: What do American Indians Want from Writing?"College Composition and Communication 51.3 (2000): 447-467.

Because of its role in the forced assimilation of Native Americans into white culture, writing is suspect in the views of Native peoples. The interaction between the U.S. and the different Native nations has been marked by the appropriation of Native sovereignty, as the U.S. moved from recognizing the different peoples as nations to tribes, and as documents moved from being treaties to agreements. The loss of rhetorical sovereignty coincides with the loss of political and cultural sovereignty. The document, "Toward True Native Education: A Treaty of 1992," a report produced by the Indian Nations At Risk Task Force and commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, is a step in reclaiming Native rhetorical sovereignty, not only in its vision, but also its use of language.

Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy. "Prescriptions for Community Colleges Outlined: Teleconference Brings Leading Educators Together to Focus on Problems, Solutions." Black Issues in Higher Education 12.22 (December 28, 1995): 26-28.

This article summarizes the discussion from a teleconference on community colleges. Recommendations include interacting with students prior to 12th grade to explain what's required to succeed in college; developing student support services at community colleges such as tutorial support, lab experience, and a seminar on college success; allowing more time to complete associates degree; increasing the diversity of the faculty of community colleges; an lobbying communitites and legislators to maintain funding for community colleges.

Marshall, Margaret J. "Marking the Unmarked: Reading Student Diversity and Preparing Teachers." College Composition and Communication 48 (1997): 231-248.

Teacher training now takes into account student diversity, but often the "norm" is unmarked and therefore masked. Teachers may assume that students falling into the mainstream share the same experiences and share the same pedagogical needs. Teachers, however, need to realize that such students, while they may read and write acceptable papers, still need to learn institutional discourse practices that require critical reading and analytical writing--practices that assume a particular ideological stance, which, in fact, the student may not share.

Masiello, Lea. "Diversity in Language and Writing." Write at the Start: A Guide to Using Writing in Freshman Seminars. Charleston, SC: University of South Carolina, 1992. 15-25.

Discusses issues raised by slang, dialects, nonstandard usage, and informality in writing. Lists proofreading strategies that can be taught. Discusses how to deal with international students.

Mikulecky, Larry. "Diversity, Discussion, and Participation: Comparing Web-based and Campus-based Adolescent Literature Classes." Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 42.2 (October 1998): 84-97.

Compares the nature of students and the quality of the discussion in a web-based and campus-based graduate course on adolescent literature. To compensate in the discussion comparision for the effects of teacher style, discussion format, and student type, the author uses discussion on a single topic common to all versions of the course. Results indicate that web-based discussion can, in some cases, surpass classroom-based discussion in depth of quality. Although further research is needed in order to understand the factors contributing to the quality of web-based discussion, the overwhelming evidence is that web-discussions provide a new tool for teachers to use to share advice and support each other.

Milan, John. "The Development of Men's Attitudes Toward Women and Feminism." ERIC ED 352 906, 22 pgs.

This study focuses upon the different factors that influenced five men to have a generally more positive view toward women and feminism. While the study touches on neither writing nor pedagogy, it is interesting in its conclusion that a curriculum-based approach to teaching men awareness of feminist issues is not as effective as experiences in which men are faced with examining their relationships with women. Five men, all of whom are involved in higher education, were interviewed for the study. In fact, the bulk of the study consists of paraphrases of these interviews. Milam categorizes the different themes arising from the interviews, examines some of the processes involved in the development of men's feminist attitudes, and concludes that being part of the higher education environment helped facilitate the processes involved.

Nelson, Craig E. "Every Course Differently: Diversity & College Teaching -- An Outline." Unpublished presentation.

Presented in a flowchart style, the outline moves through a variety of questions that, according to Nelson, instructors need to ask themselves in order to become aware of their own (often unconscious) ideological biases. The questions are grouped according to how they fall with respect to categories like "Basic Language and Ideology," "Course Content," Grading and Its Presumptions," and "Class-room Practice." Nelson provides some brief references under some of the questions, but the citations are not complete.

Nelson, Craig E. "Student Diversity Requires Different Approaches to College Teaching, Even in Math and Science." American Behavioral Scientist 40 (1996): 1665-175.

Although math and science seem to be free of cultural bias, traditional pedagogical approaches favor students from middle-class backgrounds. Instructors need to recognize this situation and effect two changes. First, instructors need to change assessment to emphasize what is learned rather than what is taught. Second, instructors need to see themselves as guiding all students in the mastery of a specific discipline, not as gatekeepers. Pedagogical strategies are included to show how these changes can be effected with minimal effort on the part of the instructor and without watering down course content.

Nelson, Craig E. "Valuing Diversity in the Educational Process" NSF 1993. Proceedings of the National Science Foundation Workshop on "The Role of Faculty from the Scientific Disciplines in the Undergraduate Education of Future Science and Mathematics Teachers." National Science Foundation Publication 93-108: 71-74.

This article synthesizes a panel discussion on recognizing diversity as a resource, not a problem, into 9 key points. It calls for an examination of the unintended biases and ideologies that are implicit in teaching science, and suggests that teachers can adapt new teaching strategies, such as active, collaborative learning, to reach a more varied student body. In addition, the panel suggests that science teachers should utilize some of the existing research on the topic of teaching diversity.

Peterson, Shelley. "Evaluation and Teachers' Perceptions of Gender in Sixth-Grade Student Writing." Research in the Teaching of English 33 (1998): 181-208.

Studies of writing assessment need to take cultural influences in consideration when looking at assessment practices. This study examines teachers' perceptions of gender, using five narrative papers by sixth-grade students. Teachers were asked to identify the gender of the writer, describe the elements that helped them identify the writer's gender, and to compare and contrast the girls' and boys' writing. One paper, written by a girl, exhibited both male and female writing traits. Those who perceived the writer as a girl gave the paper higher marks than those who perceived the writer as a boy.

Prendergast, Catherine. "Race: The Absent Presence in Composition Studies." CCC 50.1 (1998): 36-53.

Race, when it is discussed within composition studies, tends to get subsumed into issues of the "basic writer" or other marginalized groups within the academy. Critical race theory, however, exposes how discourse reveals assumptions about assimilationist attitudes that prevent an awareness of mechanisms that prevent some students from being heard and that either inscribe certain groups of students as foreigners or invisible.

Sledd, Andrew E. "Pigs, Squeals and Cow Manure; or Power, Language and Multicultural Democracy." JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 14.2 (1994):547-58.

Even though academics and linguists claim that no dialect is superior to another, the history of the English language shows that Standard English is the product of the elite classes and is priviledged over other dialects. Standard English is linked to a variety of social and economic issues involving the repression of diverse cultures within the U.S. and the world at large. The academy needs to become more aware of the power of language in shaping an oppositional culture to the current one. In the current culture, the university is a tool of the establishment. The university needs to work for all parts of the social order.

Soliday, Mary. "Class Dismissed." College English 61 (1999):731-741.

Social class plays an important part in students' access to education. Working-class students often enter college later and stay longer to finish their degrees than their bourgeoise counterparts. Educational institutions place barriers to these students' success through selection processes that often place these students into remedial courses. As a result, students not only have to take more classes in order to finish, but their educations cost more. With rising tuition costs, many of these students cannot afford to get an education. If compositionists are serious about achieving diversity in the classroom, they need to examine institutional barriers to students and propose means to eliminate these barriers.

Steffensen, Margaret, Chitra Joag-Dev, and Richard C. Anderson. "A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Reading Comprehension." Reading Research Quarterly 15.1 (1979): 10-29.

Describes a study using American and Indian subjects who read essays about American and Indian weddings. Subjects then recalled as much info as possible from each essay. Essays were matched for length, # T-units, etc. Subjects read native passage faster and more accurately.

Thompson, Jan C. "Beyond Fixing Today's Paper: Promoting Metacognition and Writing Development in the Tutorial through Self-Questioning." The Writing Lab Newsletter 23.6 (1999): 1-6.

Although open-ended questions are generally preferred by composition specialists, these types of questions are particularly important within the context of tutoring students with learning disabilities. These students tend not to strategize without outside, explicit direction, but open-ended questions help these students develop metacognitive skills through active learning. Socratic discussions, outlines, and the five Ws are discussed, along with rhetorical modes. Self-cuing is another important part of this type of tutorial, especially LD students.

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