My approach to research is pragmatic: using research to figure out ways to more effectively and more ethically teach and work with writers. My research both informs and extends from my work as teacher, learner, administrator, and mentor. I have used qualitative as well as quantitative research methods.
Below are some areas of particular interest, along with some publications extending from my research.
Areas of Research Interest
I am interested in the question of what constitutes “good” writing when we consider the linguistic diversity that is present in the United States and the world. As scholars such as Paul Kei Matsuda have pointed out, writing instruction has an implicit and explicit English-only focus that not only tends to disregard that writing can be done in other languages but also privileges certain forms of English over others, often in racialized ways.
My research se situe in this decentering work, including the examination of how racism (and classism and nationalism) is institutionalized through language ideology and the ways that we define “good” writing. I also seek to build up knowledge (theory and practices) for a translingual and translanguaging pedagogy that not only teaches rhetorical savviness but paves the way for a more inclusive and just society.
This work also influences how I edit. Like when I’m teaching, when I work with someone’s words, I am more willing to challenge more established ideas of what a writer “should” be doing and find ways to maintain linguistic difference.
Check out my dissertation: Practicing Translingualism: Faculty Conceptions and Practice
The term translanguaging is used in different ways, depending on the context. I think about translanguaging as both a pedagogical approach (see Ofelia García’s great body of work) and as a linguistic practice in the same vein as code-switching and code-meshing–two terms used to describe a speaker’s fluid movement between two or more languages (or even language varieties).
Translanguaging as a practice is an asset that is often seen as a deficit, particularly when evident in writing. My research has begun looking at how a better understanding of translanguaging (practice and pedagogy) could help college-level writing instructors encourage their students to take advantage of the rich rhetorical and linguistic they already have and enrich their writing.
Translanguaging (practice and pedagogy) is also part of anti-racist work. Connecting it with culturally sustaining pedagogies, like those being developed for African-American students (Baker-Bell, Paris, and Jackson), and other critical language awareness pedagogies could provide pedagogical models that could push writing instruction forward in being more inclusive and just.
My dissertation looked at the idea of teacher translanguaging (practice) and translingual knowledge as vital sources for encouraging students’ own linguistic competence. All of us enter the classroom with language histories. How do we use them?
Here’s what I said when I presented at the 2019 Conference on College Composition and Communication. (slides with questions for audience reflection)
Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)
In my work as a writing tutor and instructor and writing center administrator, I am keenly aware that the work of writing centers and writing faculty are but one small element of helping students learn to write effectively.
At Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Business (CoB), I fostered relationships with the faculty and began to develop tools and a schema for assessing students’ business communication skills over the course of their degree programs. I drew from research into WAC/WID ideas to identify ways to build up a “culture of communication” in the school so that students didn’t just take a business communication course but learned about business communication in a more sustained and consistent fashion. The white paper, below was presented to the CoB faculty to encourage this unified approach to teaching communication.
Developing a Trend of Great Business Student Writers (white paper)