Instructor awareness and understanding of student language variety in writing intensive courses

In the ongoing discussion of how to support diversity in higher education, language usage and its variation has been one of the most disputed features of writing pedagogy and instruction. The purpose of this research study was to examine how language variety is viewed, discussed, and responded to by instructors who teach writing intensive courses at an MA-granting university in northern California within disciplines primarily beyond the Humanities. Data was collected through six semi-structured interviews with instructor participants who teach or have taught writing in their respective discipline. The findings suggest that many instructors in other fields are either unaware of students’ language varieties in their classrooms or have a superficial awareness of student language diversity and lack the understanding, language, and training to respond to and assess student language variety in their writing assignments. As a result, the author proposes in the concluding chapter that the campus works towards developing faculty training programs or workshops that help to support, educate, and provide resources for writing instructors with the goal of improving course design, approaches to assessment, and overall teaching practices and ultimately create a more accessible and equitable classroom space for all students.