First-year writing programs at historically Black colleges and universities

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University of Alabama Libraries

This dissertation, "First-year Writing Programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities," presents the results and findings of an IRB-approved case study on African American English in the first-year composition classroom at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The goals of my research are to determine the subject matter and curriculum for first-year writing programs at HBCUs and to examine how their first-year writing courses reflect their institution's mission statement. I also explore how teachers and students address features of African American English and the African American rhetorical tradition in their writing assignments. This study demonstrates the importance of a culturally-relevant pedagogy for first-year writing courses at HBCUs. For this case study, I analyzed mission statements, course syllabi, assignment sheets, and student essays and conducted interviews with students and instructors. Based on the results of the case study, I argue that the first-year writing courses at these HBCUs do align with their institution's mission statements. I also posit that the first-year writing students in this case study have an unclear understanding of African American English; thus, more conversations are needed in the first-year writing classroom to help African American students value and appreciate their language as they learn the academic discourse and use Standard American English. With my research, I discuss how the Conference on College Composition and Communication's Students' Right to their Own Language resolution is not being totally fulfilled in the first-year writing classroom. Thus, I urge first-year composition instructors to re-think what constitutes Standard English and how attitudes toward language affect student identity.

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Language, Rhetoric