Competing Goals, Competing Discourses: ESL Composition at the Community College.Report as inadecuate

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This study examined the experiences of participants in a basic writing course in a Midwestern community college. Two-thirds of the 18 students were highly educated students from Russia, Turkey, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan who were retirees, spouses of Americans, spouses of international students at the local university, or spouses of foreign technical elites. The class also had students with low educational attainment levels, including students from Laos and Sierra Leone. Students' goals ranged from improving their English to entering community college programs in law enforcement and accounting to earning bachelor's and master's degrees. This study traces the factors involved in the course's 75% dropout rate. Using sociocultural discourse analysis, it unravels the roles of the part-time status of the instructor, the varying backgrounds and goals of the students, and the lack of institutional support and services for students and the instructor. Students' disparate educational backgrounds, life situations, and future goals posed serious challenges to the predetermined curriculum and the traditional pedagogy the instructor used. The college's heavy reliance on part-time instructors typified staffing patterns at community colleges. This practice results in faculty with little connection to the institution, insufficient training and support for part-time instructors, and predetermined curriculum and "defensive teaching" that do not meet the needs of students. (Contains 186 references.) (NB)

Descriptors: Academic Persistence, Capital, Community Colleges, Cultural Background, Cultural Relevance, Culture, English (Second Language), Part Time Faculty, Social Capital, Student Attrition, Student Needs, Two Year Colleges

Author: Curry, Mary Jane


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