Inspired by the author’s work teaching students in academic difficulty, the dissertation sought to fill a gap in the academic probation literature dominated by descriptive and intervention-based research by giving voice to a silenced and understudied student population. The research centered the voices and experiences of academic probation students by exploring how they talked about success, failure, and ‘doing school’ in the context of classroom conversations by both repeating and resisting normative, institutionalized narratives of success and failure. The institutionalized narrative was rooted in neoliberalism and the counternarrative, or resistive narrative, was rooted in critical pedagogy. The study employed classroom discourse analysis methodology using a Bakhtinian sociolinguistic lens to understand the ways that students responded to curriculum prompts and the instructor’s discourse. The findings suggested that students navigated the neoliberal rhetorical norms of higher education by repeating institutional language while simultaneously resisting, both individually and collectively, normative definitions of success/failure. Students emphasized the importance of relationships and on-campus connections, habits, mental health, and self-care to their sense of self and academic well-being as they navigated the complex experience of being on academic probation. The implications for the study included encouraging teachers to consider the importance of critical pedagogy moments in their classroom work, the need for researchers to examine academic probation student experiences from a balanced, assets-based lens, and the applicability of a Bakhtinian lens to making sense of the complex higher education policy landscape in a postmodern age.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2020. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Karen Miksch. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 234 pages.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Probation: Normative Success Discourse In An Academic Probation Classroom.
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