Teaching for social justice in the writing classroom : exploring possibilities

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


This project attempts to answer one tiny part of a life-long question: how do people influence others to care about social justice? To narrow this question down, I focused on the classroom as a potential site for change, and researched pedagogical practices and classroom materials that could help teachers achieve a goal of teaching for social justice. Using Action Research, I examined the effect of using learner-centered teaching methods and relevant social justice themed content with my Writing 101 students, to assess if they would be influenced to care about a specific social justice issue. Students examined the dominant use of "Standard English" in the classroom, and the effect that can have on students who do not speak "Standard English" as their home language. I asked students to question whose language is allowed in the classroom, whose is not allowed, and who decides whose language gets to be spoken. I administered a pre and post survey, collected student writing, and used my observations to assess results. I found that many students in the course did shift their opinions. It appeared that using "adult learning centers" along with a variety of other teaching methods contributed to students' shifting opinions. This study adds to the small body of knowledge about teaching practices and materials that work towards social justice, but also points to the need for more qualitative research in this area.




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