Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Gwen Gorzelsky


Based on a theoretically informed qualitative study, my dissertation looks at critical and service learning pedagogies, focusing on the numerous critiques that have arisen within contemporary composition scholarship. Critical pedagogy has recently come under scrutiny on the grounds that it opposes students' pragmatic views and career concerns, effects student resistance in the classroom, devalues students' personal experiences, and stigmatizes white students (particularly white males). Within service learning, scholars point to numerous problems as well: It can create a false hierarchy between students and community partners by evoking an ideology of "service" and an us/them mentality; it may not be truly transformative for students; it often lacks genuine collaboration between students and partners; and many courses focus more on action than reflection.

For my project, I used ethnographic and teacher-research methods to conduct an HIC (Human Investigation Committee) approved three-semester research study investigating whether integrating globalization theory into a combined critical, service learning pedagogical approach works to begin addressing the problems posed by critiques of these pedagogies. Based on data analysis, I argue that the course I designed offers a revised pedagogical approach for several key reasons: It allows students' personal experiences to enter into discussion in useful ways; many students find the material meaningful and relevant to their daily lives and economic situations; the hands-on work in the community creates a deeper level of engagement with political and social issues; and that work allows for the multiple types of literacy skills that students and community partners possess to be used and developed both within the classroom and local community.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons