Telling stories of critical unearthings: A two-part research study examining narrative in first-year composition and dominant knowledge production

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2021-08
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Henke, Daniel
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Kostelnick, Charles
Bartlett, Lesley
Rood, Craig
Shenk, Linda
Hollander, David
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English
Abstract
This dissertation examines the use of narrative in first-year composition (FYC) and its relation to dominant knowledge production and concepts of power such as ideology, hegemony, and linguistic/discursive power. The dissertation asks the following questions: How, and for what purpose, are instructors using narrative in FYC? And, based on these results, is narrative being used to destabilize dominant knowledge production? I explored these questions by conducting a two-part research study that examined the use of narrative in FYC at research universities, regional public colleges, and liberal arts colleges across the midwestern United States. In order to gather data, I surveyed 108 instructors of FYC with open-ended questions (Part I) and did follow-up interviews with 23 of those instructors (Part II). After extracting themes from the data, I applied critical grounded theory to gain a better understanding of instructors’ use of narrative in FYC and the relationship between narrative and dominant knowledge production. Results of this qualitative study indicated that instructors support narrative reading and writing assignments as effective pedagogical tools in the FYC classroom. Specifically, instructors incorporated narrative to provide students with additional writing and rhetorical skills and to meet course objectives and pedagogical goals. My results also suggested that narrative is often used to help aid students with an increased awareness of agency and provide them with community building both inside and outside of the classroom. My dissertation also provides a critical unearthing of the FYC classroom (highlighted by Kincheloe and McLaren (2011)) by exploring how ideology, hegemony, and linguistic/discursive power operate in FYC to shape the thinking of both instructor and student.
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