This dissertation is an exploration of various identity labels available for first-year composition (FYC) students that tend to classify them into categories which may or may not relate to the students' perception of themselves. If there remains a gap between self-identification and institutional labeling then students may find themselves negotiating unfamiliar spaces detrimental to their personal goals, expectations, and understanding of their writing abilities. This may trigger a rippling effect that may jeopardize the outcomes expected from a successful FYC program stipulated in the WPA Outcomes Statement. For this study I approached 5 sections of mainstream FYC and 7 sections of ESL/ international FYC with in-class questionnaire based surveys. The 19 questions on the survey were cued to address students' concern for identity and how course labels may or may not attend to them. With feedback from 200 participants this study endeavors to realize their preference for identity markers and definitions for mainstream and ESL sections of FYC. The survey also checks if their choices correlate and in some ways challenge ongoing research in the field. The survey reports a marked preference for NES and English as a second language speaker as prominent choices among mainstream and ESL/ international students, respectively, but this is at best the big picture. The "truth" lies in the finer details - when mainstream students select NNESs and / or resident NNESs the students demonstrate a heightened awareness of individual identity. When this same category of resident NNESs identify themselves in ESL/ international sections of FYC, the range of student identities can be realized as not only varied but also overlapping between sections. Furthermore, the opinions of these students concur as well as challenge research in the field, making clear that language learning is a constant process of meaning making, innovation, and even stepping beyond the dominant mores and cultures.
- In search of an identity: a study on FYC students' preference of course labels and identities
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Statement of Responsibility
by Anita Chaudhuri