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Title:Dreams and disappointments: Chinese undergraduates and investment in the US writing classroom
Author(s):Mcnamara, Thomas F
Director of Research:Prendergast, Catherine
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Prendergast, Catherine
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Koshy, Susan; Kwon, Soo Ah; Ritter, Kelly
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):international education
international students
Chinese undergraduates
composition studies
multilingual writing
Abstract:Motivated by declining domestic investment in higher education, US universities have in the last decade begun enrolling international students from China at record rates (a 339 percent increase since 2005), raising concerns about how institutions and writing programs can serve this new cohort. In "Dreams and Disappointments," I argue that composition’s post-1970s movement toward student-centered and rhetorical pedagogies has unwittingly left us with classrooms that marginalize these students in the white-dominated institutions their tuition dollars keep afloat. Drawing on a qualitative study of 28 Chinese undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the largest US enroller of students from China, I study how writing instruction often withholds the returns these students desire from what they see as an expensive educational investment. The students I interviewed and whose classrooms I observed described the mainstream writing classroom as central to their pursuit of linguistic fluency and as a portal into the campus mainstream, where they hoped to amass cultural knowledge they could leverage in a global and competitive job market. However, they more often through these courses came to see themselves as incapable of participating in campus life. One, for example, described how class discussions and essay prompts assuming knowledge of popular culture placed her on the classroom's periphery, convincing her that she lacked the cultural capital to study advertising or form cross-cultural friendships. By identifying such moments where these students’ investments falter, this dissertation chronicles how writing instruction can enable the white mainstream of US campuses to remain unchanged and unchallenged, even as institutions increasingly rely on the tuition dollars of economically privileged international students.
Issue Date:2016-07-11
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Thomas Mcnamara
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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