Community Perspectives On University-Community Partnerships: Implications For Program Assessment, Teacher Training, And Composition Pedagogy
AdvisorLicona, Adela C.
Committee ChairLicona, Adela C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAs widely recognized, the voices of community members have been severely overlooked in scholarship. This dissertation reports on interviews with 36 community partners from the three most common types of university-community partnerships in composition and rhetoric: Youth mentored in their writing by first-year composition (FYC) students; Non-profit staff acting as clients for upper-division professional writing students; and Community members (including adult literacy learners, youth slam poets, and rural teachers) working with graduate students in a community literacy practicum or engaged research course. The project offers a theoretical rationale for listening to community voices, combining theories from community development with critical raced-gendered epistemologies to argue for what I term "asset-based epistemologies," systems of knowing that acknowledge the advantages marginalized communities bring to the knowledge production process in service-learning. The dissertation also suggests a reciprocal, reflective storytelling methodology that invites community partners to analyze their own experiences. Each set of community members offered a distinct contribution to community-based learning: Latino/a high school students mentored by college students revealed the need to nuance traditional outcomes-based notions of reciprocity. The high school students experienced fear about interacting with college students, a response that I understand through Alison Jaggar's concept of "outlaw emotions." To mitigate this fear, the youth suggested emphasizing cultural assets and relationships, leading to what I term "relational reciprocity." Non-profit staff detailed their complex motivations for collaborating with professional writing courses, challenging the often-simplistic representations of non-profit partners in professional writing scholarship. Invoking the theory of distributed cognition, I use non-profit staff insights to describe how knowledge circulates in non-profits and how students can interact and write more effectively in organizational contexts. Community members who interacted with graduate students in a range of projects used the term "openness" to describe healthy partnerships, and I build from their stories, along with insights from bell hooks and Maria Lugones, to detail a disposition of openness needed for engaged work. This disposition includes open communication, open structures, open minds, open hearts, and open constructions of self and others. The dissertation concludes with an argument for attention to "relational literacies" in both service-learning practice and scholarship.
Degree ProgramGraduate College