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Retention and Resistance

Writing Instruction and Students Who Leave

By Pegeen Reichert Powell

Publication Year: 2014

Retention and Resistance combines personal student narratives with a critical analysis of the current approach to retention in colleges and universities, and explores how retention can inform a revision of goals for first-year writing teachers.

Retention is a vital issue for institutions, but as these students’ stories show, leaving college is often the result of complex and idiosyncratic individual situations that make institutional efforts difficult and ultimately ineffective. An adjustment of institutional and pedagogical objectives is needed to refocus on educating as many students as possible, including those who might leave before graduation.

Much of the pedagogy, curricula, and methodologies of composition studies assume students are preparing for further academic study. Retention and Resistance argues for a new kairotic pedagogy that moves toward an emphasis on the present classroom experience and takes students’ varied experiences into account. Infusing the discourse of retention with three individual student voices, Powell explores the obligation of faculty to participate in designing an institution that educates all students, no matter where they are in their educational journey or how far that journey will go.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The early stages of research for this book were supported by the Multicultural Enrichment Grant Program at Columbia College Chicago. A grant from that program enabled me to create, with Kilian McCurrie, the Student Faculty Partnership for Success program, which partnered faculty members for one year with...

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Introduction: Paying Attention to the Discourse of Retention in Higher Education

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pp. 1-30

In the fall of 2008, my two sections of first-year writing were positively electric with the excitement of the campaign and ultimately the election of Barack Obama. I had designed the course to tap into that fall’s election, and I enjoyed teaching these two...

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1. A Story of Retention Research

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pp. 31-51

Helen is one of the toughest students I’ve ever taught. By this I mean that, at times, her demeanor is tough. Her language is tough. And she would admit parts of her background are pretty tough, too. I also mean she is probably one of the brightest,...

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2. The Seduction and Betrayal of the Discourse of Retention

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pp. 52-82

I have begun to understand that students leaving my college before they graduate is less a problem I need to solve and more an occasion for me to be creative, an opportunity to invent meaningful pedagogical responses to the unique forces circulating...

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3. The Possibility of Failure

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pp. 83-105

If you do a search in Amazon for books with the keyword failure, the vast majority of titles are about success: The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life’s Setbacks into Success; Famous Failures: Hundreds of Hot Shots Who Got Rejected, Flunked Out, Worked Lousy Jobs, Goofed Up, or Did Time in Jail Before Becoming a Phenomenal...

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4. Beyond Retention

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pp. 106-134

My argument throughout this book has been that trying to prevent students from leaving our colleges and universities before they graduate is ineffective at best: an institution can simply do very little, if anything to address the complicated reasons surrounding students’ leaving, the fact that students’ chances...


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pp. 135-141

About the Author

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pp. 142-142


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pp. 143-144

E-ISBN-13: 9780874219319
E-ISBN-10: 0874219310
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874219302
Print-ISBN-10: 0874219302

Page Count: 156
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 870228444
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Retention and Resistance

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Dropout behavior, Prediction of -- United States -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • College dropouts -- United States -- Research.
  • College dropouts -- United States -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • College dropouts -- United States -- Prevention
  • College attendance -- United States.
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