Composition programs in American colleges and universities do not enjoy the rights and privileges of other fields and disciplines. The problems have to do with the status of an academic field beset by commonsense criticism of both its curriculum and pedagogy. Subject to frequent institutional reviews, writing programs are often expected to defend their academic practices from the advice of reviewers whose commonsense understanding of writing eschews process and practice in favor of product. Drawing on several reviews of the program in which they teach, the authors argue that the propensity to allow professors from a range of departments to decide what constitutes good writing and the best ways to teach it violates the intentions on which academic freedom at their university resides. They provide examples of reviews of their program that fail to take into account the pedagogical goals of the writing program. Such reviews rely on external criteria such as commonsense understandings of grammar and style instead of considering the program's stated pedagogical goals and learning outcomes. The essay concludes that institutional reviews of writing programs should acknowledge the review guidelines set by professional organizations in writing program administration and, further, that they be conducted by peers familiar with research and scholarship in the field of composition.
Research Article|October 01 2009
Academic Freedom and the Composition Program
South Atlantic Quarterly (2009) 108 (4): 651-666.
Linda Brodkey, Holly Bauer; Academic Freedom and the Composition Program. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2009; 108 (4): 651–666. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-012
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