The Right Time for Process(ing): Trauma-Informed and Student-Informed Care Pedagogy in FYC at the Two-Year College

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Blaisdell, Heidi Ann
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT In this dissertation, I use a qualitative interview study to explore the student experience of writing about personal trauma in first-year composition (FYC). Based on my ten study narrators, all community college students who chose to write about a traumatic experience for an essay in FYC, I consider that FYC may be perceived by some students as a kairotic space -- the right time and right place -- to write about a trauma, perhaps for the first time. Because students may choose to write about a traumatic experience, whether or not we invite it, I also consider how trauma-informed writing pedagogy may help instructors respond in due measure. To highlight the kairotic nature of their experiences at key points during the writing process, I organize narrator quotes according to a chronological sequence: first, when they decided to write about their topic (Ch. 2: Opportunity), second, when they worked through the drafting process (Ch. 3: Process), and third, when they received feedback and grades from their instructor (Ch. 4: Response). I analyze their quotes alongside composition pedagogy and trauma-informed pedagogy. What separates my study from other trauma-informed writing pedagogy scholarship is that it centers student voices, highlighting the ways in which student experiences align with and depart from established pedagogy. Based on my study narrators, I propose that allowing students to write about trauma -- if they choose to -- and supporting them during the process can motivate students to achieve FYC rhetorical outcomes, cultivate academic belonging, and promote the relevance of composition in their own lives. Rather than a healing pedagogy, my last chapter offers a trauma-informed and student-informed care pedagogy that aims to support the wellness of students while sustaining ourselves.
Care pedagogy, Joy, Kairos, Student voices, Teaching composition, Trauma-informed pedagogy, Pedagogy, Rhetoric and Composition