Teaching Composition Together: Democracy, Perceptions, and New Literacies
This action research investigates coteaching and democratic learning in a Master of Arts in Teaching, Teaching Composition course that focused on new literacies (Lankshear and Knobel, 2011). Utilizing a motivational survey and inductive analysis of students’ written reflections and course artifacts, this study explored coteaching and democratic learning within a teaching program that privileged increasing students’ digital literacy capacity. Moreover, the researchers analyzed students’ consideration of and enactment of democratic culture and new literacies in their professional practice. The motivational survey, which measured students’ perceptions of the course, revealed that students perceived that their instructors cared about their well-being as people and as students in the course, believed the information taught was useful, and felt that the instructors supported them in being successful. Themes of power between coteachers and students emerged: (a) democratic ownership of content, space, and knowledge; (b) communication among students and teachers, common goals, and collaboration; and (c) transparency in teaching, tools, and feedback. Limitations included the small, homogenous group of students, all of whom were high achieving and highly motivated. This research serves as a springboard for future research on new literacies and democratic learning environments. English Educators may find the motivational survey, which is validated by research, useful in understanding student perceptions of their instruction. The study also provides insight into new literacies and curriculum that privileges democratic learning. A work-flow model was created in conjunction with the students; the researchers present this model as well an advanced version of the model, with new literacies’ theoretical components as an overlay.
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