Call for Proposals: Edited Collection on Using Instructor Feedback to Promote Equity and Linguistic Justice in the Writing Classroom

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Kelly Blewett / Indiana University East and Justine Post / Ohio Northern University

Reconceptualizing Response: Using Instructor Feedback to Promote Equity and Linguistic Justice in the Writing Classroom

500-word proposals with 50-word bios due December 15, 2021

We are nearly 50 years out from the publication of Students’ Rights to Their Own Language, a polemic that provided a compass for our field, one that has been consistently debated and arguably, even more depressingly, ignored (see Perryman-Clark, Kirkland, and Jackson; we are also thinking of Vershawn Young’s 2021 CCCC keynote address which argued that our field’s lack of attention to the SRTOL is a moral failure). At this key moment in our field’s advancement, we rightfully question how education can be more equitable, how the hidden and corrosive politics of language can be exposed and reconsidered in the writing classroom, and how we, as teachers of writing, can engage students in conversations about their work that will lead to engagement, reflection, and growth. This is a moment for all of us to think about how our practices align with or fail to address linguistic justice. 

In this context, we invite contributors to reconsider the bedrock literature regarding response to student writing--research which flourished in the ‘80s and ‘90s and generated many of the commenting practices that instructors use today. From minimal marking to audio feedback, scholars like Chris Anson, Richard Haswell, Lil Brannon and C. H. Knoblauch, Nancy Sommers, Richard Straub and Ronald Lunsford, and Russell Sprinkle investigated response in a series of studies and essays that firmly embraced students’ right to maintain control over their purposesfor writing but overlooked the impact students’ identities have on their sense of ownership and authority when writing. Though this research was criticized almost as soon as it appeared for its acontextuality and seeming incongruity--mismatched findings regarding students’ preferences for critical feedback, disagreement regarding whether questions were dialogic or passive-aggressive, and more--the best practices that emerged from these studies have barely changed in the intervening decades. 

We raise  these critiques to identify key issues that must be considered in the pursuit of more equitable writing instruction: 

  • How do the best practices for instructor feedback constrain or enable students to utilize their diverse linguistic resources? 

  • How do we invite students, particularly underrepresented and marginalized students, into the classroom and into academic writing through inclusive feedback practices?

  • Where have we fallen short, and what have been the costs and consequences of our unwillingness to embrace SRTOL in our approaches to response? 

In this pivotal moment of social change, we invite contributions to an edited collection that will offer  complications, provocations, and investigations that re-envision our seemingly static best practices for response in ways that promote equity and linguistic justice in the writing classroom. We hope these categories will provide some pathways for your thinking, though we are not in any way bound by them. 

At this critical juncture, we want to return to the bedrock of response research, both to celebrate what it gave us and to complicate its contours by examining all that it left out--students beyond  the generalized “student writer,” differently situated and positioned teachers, different modalities of response, and different ways that the rich context of the classroom and larger assessment practices (such as labor-based approaches) shape students’ engagement with their instructor’s feedback. To complicate the existing literature on response, we ask:

  • How can instructors tailor their feedback to account for the needs of different student populations and the needs of different students within the same population?

  • How do instructors experience feedback and what are their needs that must be met in order for them to effectively engage in the feedback cycle?

  • How can different modalities of response meet (or fail to meet) the diverse needs of students and instructors?

  • How is instructor feedback enhanced or constrained by other classroom practices like in-class activities, discussion, peer review, and assessment?

  • What can we learn from research on response from other contexts--e.g., business, higher education, psychology?

In opening the door for  provocations, we invite scholarship considering the many ways that our bedrock literature lacked specificity and awareness of the impact of perceived difference on the communication that takes place between students and instructors during the feedback cycle. To provoke new directions in the literature on response, we ask:

  • Why do students respond to instructor feedback in contrasting ways? 

  • How do students’ linguistic identities influence their experiences with feedback in the writing classroom? 

  • What other aspects of students’ identities (e.g., race, gender, socioeconomic status) must instructors account for in their feedback practices?

  • How do instructors’ perceptions of students and implicit or explicit biases impact their feedback practices? 

  • How does our bedrock literature on response evade these conversations and where can we turn to educate and inform ourselves?  

  • What other aspects of this topic can you shed light on through essays or narratives exploring your stories, richly detailed? 

Finally, in investigations, we celebrate and want to continue the long history of investigating response in the field of writing studies. To investigate where literature on response can and should evolve in the future, we ask:

  • How could studies of feedback in the writing classroom extend or move beyond the limitations of early research? 

  • What questions remain unanswered in research on feedback in the writing classroom? 

  • What questions should response scholars ask, and what kinds of data collection would enable scholars to answer those questions? 

  • What new directions do the findings of recent research suggest, and how might  those new directions challenge or reinforce the historical texts that continue to echo in our contemporary moment? 

  • What directions should we prioritize as we continue to pursue equity and linguistic justice in our feedback practices?

This is a time to reconceptualize response--and we hope you will join us. We are two white women who teach writing and work in writing-related administration at rural 4-year colleges in the midwest. We aim to create a collection that prioritizes the voices of scholars of color and scholars working in majority-minority schools and two-year colleges. While all contributions are welcome, we particularly encourage scholarship that helps us better understand the experiences and perspectives of students and scholars who are often underrepresented in our field.

For consideration, submit a 500-word proposal and a 50-word bio by December 15, 2021. Accepted authors will be notified by February 1, 2022. Full chapter drafts (6,000 to 8,000 words including references) will be due on July 1, 2022. Please send queries and proposals to: reconceptualizing.response@gmail.com.

 

Kelly Blewett

Assistant Professor of English / Writing Program Director

Indiana University East

 

Justine Post

Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition / Writing Center Director

Ohio Northern University