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Research and Teaching

I am considering two possible full-time posts at the university where I teach part-time. I love where I teach and shifting to full-time would enable me to better support the local performing arts. The university supports my artistic endeavors, and that's refreshing. Accepting a post does not require scholarship if I wish to maintain "teaching track" status in the future, but an administrator told it would be "icing on the cake" and has led to teaching-track faculty being awarded research support and rank promotion (associate, full, etc.).

A few colleagues have suggested I compose a research agenda statement and pursue publishing on my dissertation topic.

My doctoral research topic was autistic students and online education, though I also conducted two grant-supported surveys on the general experiences of autistics in college writing courses. To revise and publish the research would be a serious undertaking, but I believe one that would serve the community and the literature in composition and rhetoric.

The surveys and observations found that autistics run counter to many of the pedagogical assumptions within comp/rhet. From the challenges of collaboration to the need to be non-verbal at times, autistic traits make many composition experiences dreadful for the students I interviewed. A predisposition towards concrete, literal thought and "black and white" values also poses a problem, which some in comp/rhet associated with "immature" thinking despite the neurological underpinnings of autistic approaches to problems. Some (many) autistic students find comp/rhet the impenetrable barrier to academic success.

I have met so many autistic (former) students who gave up after bad experiences, I feel I should push the observation research out there, even if I am unable to secure traditional publication. That wouldn't help with my career, but maybe that's not the point.

Some of my colleagues in comp/rhet have suggested there's not much space for research on why common classroom practices might be oppressive. I had one writing-literature instructor tell me that departments didn't need autistics. That pretty much explains why I prefer being outside English and writing programs.

Finding a publisher, either a journal or book publisher, means getting past editors, reviewers, et al, who might have the biases I have experienced. That's a rather unpleasant thought.

Of course, I could just leave "autism" behind and focus on something else for a research statement and agenda.


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