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ERIC Number: ED525087
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 271
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-9242-9
When God's Word Isn't Good Enough: Exploring Christian Discourses in the College Composition Classroom
Thomson, Heather E.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan
This study--a hybrid project that blends empirical research traditions from the social sciences and composition studies--examines how discourses of Christianity and composition operate in college writing classrooms. Conducted at a large, public, Midwestern university, this qualitative study analyzes surveys and interviews of writing instructors and Christian students, providing new insights on how religious discourses shape perceptions and behaviors of both students and instructors--including instructors' feedback on student writing, the student-instructor relationship, and students' rhetorical choices. By putting student and instructor voices into conversation, this study offers a more expansive view of how religious discourses can affect composition classrooms than has been available to scholars and instructors up to this point. Discourse analysis of the survey and interview data revealed several sources of the tensions that Christian discourses can bring to the classroom. Some writing instructors hold perceptions of Christian students as a group that influence their responses to student work and contribute to assumptions about individual Christian students' academic ability and engagement. Some Christian students draw on instructors' comments about controversial issues or on preconceived ideas about academe to make assumptions about instructors' political and religious beliefs; some become uneasy about their position at a secular institution; and some expect negative reactions to religious expression. They are therefore faced with difficult choices about disclosing or silencing their religious identity. Instructors and Christian students also tend to define the work of the writing course and the goals of academic writing differently, indicating that they are working at cross purposes as they try to communicate their ideas about how religious discourses affect students' writing. These findings suggest that there are significant points of conflict between student and instructor discourses, and that instructors and Christian students sometimes face great difficulty as they try to communicate with one another. There are, however, points of overlap between these discourses as well, and they may be opportunities for students and instructors to articulate--for themselves and to each other--how they are thinking about academic writing, about religious discourses as part of that writing, and about the purposes of the composition course. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A