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CCCC 2006 in Review

K38 Building Student Consciousness: Establishing a Premise of Effective Strategies which Set an Environment for Student-Initiated Learning

Isaac Hinojosa, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, chaired and also served as first speaker for this early Saturday morning session which focused on student development and methods with which teachers can best engage their students. Hinojosa described how his presentation drew on his education in counseling, and particularly personality development, to respond to Mike Rose's call for a "new pedagogy." Citing Adler, Bandura, and Rogers on Congruence, Hinojosa argued for the importance of clearly written, challenging, meaningful assignments that encourage students to self-actualize and develop their identities as college students. Using Carl Rogers, Hinojosa discussed how teachers with an awareness of identity acquisition, congruence, and unconditional positive regard, can encourage self-actualization of students through reflective writing activities. Hinojosa's presentation, which combined his own experiences as a student as well as those as a teacher, provided both inspiration and guidance. To receive a copy of his handout, email him at Isaac.Hinojosa@mail.tamucc.edu.

Second on the panel was Candace Penick, also from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Penick picked up on Isaac's theme of engaging the student in meaningful activities and demonstrated how teachers make connections between students' home languages and belief systems and the discussions of the classroom and academic discourse. On the first day of class, Penick asked her students to define a set of terms related to power and oppression, the theme of her political-science based learning community and second-semester composition course. Each student brought his or her definitions to the second day of class, where they were shared, and then expanded upon. Students were then asked to reflect upon how those definitions were shaped by their communities and families. Gradually, as they discussed these terms and belief systems with peers and read academic articles about language and power, they found research topics connected to their terms, their beliefs, and/or the readings of the course. Detailed strategies are on Penick's website http://firstyear.tamucc.edu/wiki/CandacePenick/HomePage, and are available by email: ckleon@aol.com.

The third panelist was Kristina Gutierrez, also of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, who presented the teacher development side of these arguments. She described how the First Year Learning Communities Program (FYLCP) aligns goals for student learning and how those goals are highlighted in the training and professional development opportunities that are afforded to graduate teaching assistants, adjuncts, instructors, and faculty who teach in the program. Gutierrez spoke of a connection between Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands with a discussion of Randall Popken's interdiscursive linking to demonstrate how the FYLCP composition focuses less on writing than upon thinking as a goal of student learning. This focus on critical thinking works well in the linked learning communities in which almost all composition sections at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are taught. Materials from Gutierrez's presentation are available via email: Kristina.Gutierrez@mail.tamucc.edu.

Audience members demonstrated an interest in the suggested strategies and idea of professional mentoring that might be encouraged within a writing program or an English department as a means of support for new teachers. I enjoyed the fresh ideas and energy these young academics brought to this session and look forward to more exciting work to come.

— Susan Wolff Murphy

CCCC ConventionFor more information on the CCCC 2006 conference,
visit the NCTE Web site at http://www.ncte.org/profdev/conv/cccc/.