CFP: Composition Studies Summer 2022 Special Issue:
Teaching Writing to Increase Well-Being in Writing Programs
We invite proposals of approximately 300 words for a Summer 2022 special issue of Composition Studies that highlights research and pedagogical approaches designed to understand the nature of and increase well-being in writing programs through writing and writing instruction. The purpose of this special issue is to advance dialogue about how to develop truly inclusive and supportive instructional practices that foster well-being for all participants in writing programs: undergraduate students, instructors (both faculty and graduate students), staff, and administrators.
Leaders and educators in higher education are increasingly concerned about student well-being, especially for historically underrepresented and underserved populations. While these concerns were certainly prominent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, events following the March 2020 lockdowns and the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police officers put into stark relief the urgent need for a clear focus on mental health and well-being on university and college campuses. Approaches to address physical, mental, and emotional well-being on campus have become prominent topics in higher education publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, and organizations such as AAC&U are hosting workshops and special sessions to address well-being on campus. As these conversations become more frequent, we urge writing studies scholars to participate in and lead efforts to develop effective strategies for improving well-being for students, instructors, staff, and administrators.
Writing courses, whether in the first year or in writing across the curriculum programs, are one of the academic spaces through which nearly all undergraduate students pass. Writing courses are also learning spaces where students often share what is troubling them, where they are known on a first-name basis, and where they can explore writing practices that give them an avenue for self-expression. Scholars with varied approaches (Daly and Miller, 1975; García de Müeller, 2016; Inoue, 2015 & 2019; Kara, 2013; Kryger and Zimmerman, 2020; Kynard, 2008) have shown, however, that our pedagogical and assessment practices in writing classes often do more harm than good. Yet research in well-being, socioemotional learning (SEL), and educational psychology show that intentionally designed writing activities can and do promote well-being (Neff, 2015; Pennebaker, 2004).
The need for pedagogical approaches in critical first year and upper division courses that build upon students’ strengths and develop their sense of belonging is significant. Calls to operationalize SEL strengths-based approaches to learning have prompted some scholars (Shriver et al., 1999) to propose over the past two decades that there is a “socio-emotional health crisis” in the United States with estimates ranging from 25-50% of high school students engaging in high-risk behaviors. At the heart of this crisis is “a breakdown in the caring aspects of students’ lives … [with] emotional distance in school relationships with teachers and the school community” cited as major contributing factors (Peterson & Seligman, 2004, p. 407).
In writing studies, Inoue’s scholarship has demonstrated the need to develop antiracist assessment practices because our historical approaches to teaching and assessing writing have been built upon white supremacist assumptions about language. In second language writing, scholars such as Matsuda (2006) have long called for approaches to teaching writing that assume linguistic diversity is present in writing classes. Models that use strengths-based approaches (Miller-Cochran, 2012) can provide a way to draw on students’ knowledge and experiences to learn while also increasing their well-being. Dolmage (2015) and Kryger and Zimmerman (2020) have also called for pedagogical approaches that are inclusive of all writing students, regardless of their (dis)abilities. Writing students, especially first-year writing students, stand to benefit significantly from a writing curriculum rooted in inclusive, intentional strengths-based approaches that promote student well-being.
Proposals might address, but need not be limited to, questions such as:
- What are the effects of a range of assignments, activities, curricula, faculty development approaches, working conditions, and administrative practices on the ecologies of well-being in writing programs?
- What might inclusive pedagogical approaches for writing look like when they focus on student and instructor well-being?
- How might instructors introduce an emphasis on well-being into their writing classes?
- Which writing assessment practices foster well-being for all students and instructors?
- Whose voices have historically been included and/or excluded from discussions about student well-being?
- What is the nature of the relationship between well-being and issues such as student success, retention, satisfaction, and completion?
- What is the responsibility, if any, of a writing program in contributing to student well-being?
In particular, we invite submissions for articles, course designs, and book reviews. Please see the guidelines for submissions to Composition Studies at https://compstudiesjournal.com/ for further instructions on submissions for each of these sections of the journal.
For queries or to submit proposals, feel free to contact Stacey Cochran and Susan Miller-Cochran at CSWritingandWellBeing at gmail.com.
- Proposals due: January 30, 2022
- Invitations for manuscripts sent out: March 1, 2022
- Rough Drafts: May 1, 2022
- Revisions due (if needed): June 15, 2022
- Page proofs: July 15, 2022
- Returned proofs: July 30, 2022
- Publication of issue: August 15, 2022