"imagining the Moon": Critical Pedagogy, Discourse Tensions, and the Adult Basic Writing Classroom

Open Access
Siha, Alfred
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 05, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Elizabeth Jean Tisdell, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Robin Redmon Wright, Committee Member
  • Ilhan Kucukaydin, Committee Member
  • Peter Jones Kareithi, Committee Member
  • basic writing
  • critical pedagogy
  • adult basic writers
  • community colleges
  • developmental writing
  • developmental education
The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to explore how critical pedagogy can foster writing competency and critical consciousness among adult basic writing students in a community college writing classroom. To this end, critical pedagogy and related critical discourses were used to theoretically frame this study. These theories attempt to uncover systemic issues of power and oppression, while trying to teach for greater emancipation. The study was grounded in a critical action research methodology, and made use of an ongoing cycle of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting while collecting and analyzing data as the course and study unfolded. This study identified a number of critical findings to enact critical consciousness in the basic writing classroom, re-imagine the ways in which basic writing classrooms are oriented, and to encourage adult basic writing students to dwell within the tension of the various discourses they are embedded in—indeed, imaging the moon—with the goal of coming to a better understanding of their own position within the writing process. Key findings revolve around the engagement of students in: democratizing the classroom experience though ongoing dialogue and by involving students in course planning, implementing writing groups where students listen to and critique each others’ work, and exposing the tensions among the discourses of the English language—especially between the students’ home language and “standard” English. Through the engagement of critical discourses in writing and dialogue in the classroom, participants began rejecting a formulaic writing pedagogy, searching for their liberation, and dwelling within the tension of the multiple discourses in which they are embedded. The dissertation concludes by highlighting implications for theory, practice, and further research.