Cape Fear Community College
New Mexico State University
CWTA CCCC SIG Proposal
Proposal for a Forum* Session at the 1996 Conference on College Communication and Composition
* Forum sessions, to the best of my knowledge, were introduced at the 1995
4Cs in Washington, DC as an alternative to the read papers format. Forums
were designed for brief comments by presenters with the overall goal of
stimulating conversation between the presenters and audience participants.
Tyranny and Suffering in Higher Education: The Heart-Rending Plight of the
"Polyvocal Proposal" Submitted by:
Judy Williamson, JWillia9@gmu.edu
on behalf of the CWTA (Computers and Writing Teaching Asssitants)
In collaboration with:
Michael J. Salvo
Karla Saari Kitalong, online from Michigan Technological University
Graduate students in computers and writing are frequently finding that in
order to infuse their departments with information technology, they assume
responsibility for teaching English department secretaries, chairs, and
faculty about computer use. Despite their leadership roles, they still
feel marginalized and under-valued. We are interested in probing some of
the political and economic issues at stake for graduate students such as
those mentioned below. Our forum will be aimed at both students and
faculty with presentations kept deliberately brief in order to foster
discussion leading to a shared understanding about the subject position of
graduate students in computers and writing and a deeper commitment to
recognizing their stature as agents of rhetorical change.
As graduate students continue to push for the chance to make use of
new technologies (and the new pedagogies they facilitate), what happens in
departments where there are only one or two graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) trying to bring their
departments kicking and screaming into the 21st century? It has been my
experience that a combination of active (and passive) resistance to
technology within the department can be combined with a willingness
(perhaps even an eagerness) to exploit the knowledge and abilities of those
GTAs--ultimately acting as an extremely destructive force upon those
individuals. I'd like to engage in a dialogue with other GTAs who find
themselves in this position, discussing how we have survived (or not
survived) the isolation, pressure, and institutional and departmental
resistance that we have had to deal with.
MICHAEL J. SALVO:
As English departments realize their need for technological expertise in
their departments and with budgets getting tighter and tighter, graduate
assistants (TAs, adjuncts, part-timers) are being asked to fill leadership
roles in computerized instruction and information technology. Are we being
properly compensated given the level of expertise we need in order to
perform our jobs? Are we earning the respect we deserve? Is our service
to the department recognized for what it is -- academic and teaching
experience -- or is it viewed askance as "mere" service? What can be done
about this situation? Now there's an organization dedicated to the
discussion of these and other issues. Through CWTA, we can pool our
knowledge, work with nationally recognized faculty mentors, and support each
other's entry into mainstream academia. This presentation will raise these
questions and present the CWTA and its activities.
In many departments, graduate assistants (GAs) are responsible for the
administration of computer labs and computer classrooms. While this
provides a wonderful opportunity for many of us, there are many concerns
that need to be addressed. Among them are:
- How time-intensive is the job?
- Does the job have a reasonable salary?
- What sort of authority can a GA have in the lab? in the
department? across campus?
- Given the rapid turnover in graduate programs, what happens
to the lab/classroom when the GA administrator leaves?
I'd like to raise these questions and discuss their importance for graduate
students given their vulnerable position in the academy.
Contact the Author!