Students' Texts Beyond the Classroom: Young Scholars in Writing's Challenges to College Writing Instruction

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Contribution to Books

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The student texts that center a writing course should include not only those written by students on that course but also those circulated texts that other students have written in other times and places. In this volume, McDonnell and Jefferson describe using student texts from first-year composition courses in a publishing course, and here we examine "closing the loop" by bringing published, scholarly student writing into FYC. In this case, we focus on articles in Young Scholars in Writing (YSW), a peer-reviewed journal of undergraduate research in composition and rhetoric. Reading published student research in comp/rhet lets writing students explore a range of rich pedagogical possibilities constituted not simply by the texts themselves, but by the activities they inspire and represent and the interactional processes that have shaped their production. While discussing a variety of pedagogical implications connected to using YSW texts in the classroom, we want to speculate as well about underlying issues: what we can learn from the writerly practices and exchanges that lead to publication in this and similar venues; how the presence of YSW unsettles easy assumptions we might have about the role of student writing not only in our classrooms but in our field; and how the reflection of writers published in YSW might help us rethink common teaching strategies. Pushing further, we wonder about what counts as a student text in the writing classroom: the language on the page itself, writerly accounts of the production of that text, writing students' interactions with the writers of these articles? Such speculation leads us to demonstrate in this chapter that when we start engaging student texts like YSW articles, we as teachers come to see differently what we're trying to teach to begin with. Ultimately, then, we're studying how using student texts in the writing classroom teaches not just the students, but the teachers.

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