Establishing story, establishing ethos : community college, composition, & the development of self

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shane Marie Smith (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Beth Huber

Abstract: This thesis explores the concept of story and its potential use within the community college composition classroom. Story is everywhere; it is how we as human beings make sense of our existence and our role within the world. While we are all carriers of story, community college students carry unique stories of hardship and adversity that have led them to enrollment. Previous educational experiences and negative rhetoric about their past has the ability to shape or limit what they see themselves as capable of both in their present situation and their future. If left unchallenged, the rhetoric used to describe our stories (or how others have described them) limits what we see as possible for ourselves. Providing space within the community college classroom challenges the negative rhetoric and affords a unique opportunity for instructors to provide support and guidance to their students. This thesis discusses how story ownership and authorship, when encouraged by an instructor, communicates more than simply the telling of stories, fostering both trust and the development of ethos. Story ownership and authorship fosters a fully established ethos that refuses to require students to compartmentalize the academic and personal parts of their sense of self. Instead, story invites all parts of the self and attaches value to both lived experiences and knowledge obtained from such experiences. By doing so, it heightens instructor awareness and allows for a level of humanization and connection between instructor and student that may not otherwise be possible. By establishing the ethos of both student and instructor as carriers of story, students experience a heightened level of trust and open communication with their instructor. In doing so, instructors are able to provide a sense of support and mentorship inside the classroom- rather than relying on external support services to take on that position. By recognizing the power of story and advocating for more of its inclusion within the community college composition classroom, instructors can capitalize on the transformative power of story to engage students and foster both success and support.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Storytelling -- Psychological aspects
College students -- Psychology
Identity (Psychology)
Teacher-student relationships
Discourse analysis, Narrative -- Psychological aspects

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