The UNH School-University Dialogues on College-Readiness in Writing
"College-readiness” in writing has become a significant component of ongoing conversations in higher education and secondary schools. Very few studies have considered how high school and college writing teachers might work together to prepare students. To that end, the UNH School-University Dialogues on College Readiness in Writing, originated in 2013, meets a critical need for publicly engaged scholarship on composition and rhetoric by collaborating with the New Hampshire Literacy Institutes and establishing partnerships with UNH composition instructors and New Hampshire English teachers and schools.
The group focuses on how cross-institutional dialogues among high school and college writing teachers can support teachers at both levels as they develop understandings about college-level writing expectations and student writers’ high school/college transition. Through teacher-initiated research projects and dialogues, this project seeks to develop an affinity space model for professional development. While a central task or topic creates a center for the learning—in our case, the idea of “college readiness”—participants may learn, contribute, and form relationships in a variety of ways. Working with a core group of 20 secondary teachers and first-year composition instructions,our Dialogues model cultivates lateral conversations across institutions and individuals through regular face-to-face meetings, action research partnerships, and digital interactions.
Because of our commitment to anaffinity space model, the research personnel group for this project includes high school teachers, Ph.D. students, and UNH college instructors. Currently, the group has 20 members. All teachers serving as research personnel hold Master’s degrees in education/teaching, are certified English language arts teachers, and have been teaching for more than one year. College-level instructors have been teaching for over one year, hold advanced degrees (MFA, MAT, Ph.D.), and have taught multiple sections of first-year composition.
Designing the Dialogues and Partnership
- Political philosophy: A “flattened hierarchy” that would allow all of us to learn and respond to each other as co-teachers, co-learners, and co-researchers (not a top-down PLC).
- Pedagogical philosophy:A space where questions, dialogue, disagreement, and difference can and should be brought to the table.
- Research philosophy: Returning action research to the hands, minds, and questions of teachers.