High-Impact Practices

  1. Critical, informed self-reflection that helps make biases visible to faculty 
  2. Ungrading (e.g., contract grading, specifications gradingstudent self-assessment) 
  3. Culturally responsive instructional design and especially alignment of objectives, rubrics, and comments 
  4. Translingual frameworks that recognize and value diverse linguistic backgrounds 
  5. Including student voices in developing (and revisiting) literacy cultures, statements, and policies  

        Critical, Informed Self-Reflection

        Practices of critical, informed self-reflection could perhaps be seen as forms of teacher research. In short, they are ways of making naturalized practices—especially those centered around feedback and assessment—seem strange or distant enough that biases become visible to the teacher. It’s often the first step in realizing the kinds of harm that writing instruction can do and what can be done about it. 

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          Ungrading 

          There are a range of writing assessment practices we might call “ungrading, including labor-based grading contracts, student self-assessment, and specifications grading. Grades can have negative effects on all students, but unconscious bias and institutionalized racism in education can make grades particularly harmful to students of color. Since individual teachers often can’t fully circumvent the requirement to input grades, ungrading practices are ways of transforming assessment criteria to be more transparent and less subject to bias. 

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          Culturally Responsive Instructional Design

          David Gooblar (2014) notes that effective teaching habits—that is, structuring classes with scaffolded work, adopting a growth mindset, and aligning grading with learning goals—result in better outcomes for students of color especially. In addition, model readings from diverse writers and culturally responsive assignments that are designed to be inclusive of diverse students have an important role to play in antiracist writing pedagogy. 

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          Translingual Frameworks

          Dominant educational paradigms tend to treat difference as deficit and condition writing instructors to believe their job is to “correct” difference. Translingualism positions diversity as asset and encourages instructors to consider language variation as personal and meaningful choices rather than transgressions that need to be erased. 

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            Including Student Voices

            Antiracist efforts intended to benefit students should include students. The process of involving students in antiracist projects can help to change the literacy culture in a community to be more inclusive. Examples of such projects include developing linguistic justice statements, inviting students to share or publish literacy narratives, and getting student input on class policies or departmental curricula. Such practices are scalable: capable of happening on the local level of a classroom or the wider context of a university. 

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            • UConn Writing Center Linguistic Justice Statement (coming soon)

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