Erin McNeill has been awarded the Julia E. Berry Research Award to Study Careers of English Majors.
McNeill, a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor in Literacy, Culture and Language Education, said she was thankful and humbled that her research proposal was chosen as the inaugural winner of the award, which was established to support a research project that studies the careers of English majors and the role and function of English in career development.
McNeill’s project, Culturally Responsive Listening in English Language Arts Classrooms: Building Curriculum for Cultural Engagement, is designed to learn the techniques English Language Arts (ELA) teachers use to integrate student feedback, comments and questions into canonical or mandated secondary English curricula. The objectives of the project are first, to interview and observe English majors in ELA classrooms who use cultural responsiveness to reflect on and create units of study for culturally and linguistically diverse students; second, to analyze the methods used by English teachers to engage and interest students in the mandated curriculum; and third, to create a framework that explains how the theories of culturally responsive pedagogies (Gay, 2018; Ladson-Billings, 1995) can integrate student voice in required texts of English Language Arts classrooms.
“English teachers and preservice teachers could use the framework to see how their peers still teach canonical texts in culturally relevant ways,” McNeill said. “Therefore, the funding will be used to interview and observe the ways English teachers differentiate mandated or required curriculum to engage culturally and linguistically diverse students. The funding will also cover travel costs to present my work at the National Council of Teachers of English conference.”
Currently, McNeill’s research focuses on asset-based strategies for linguistically and culturally diverse students, prioritizing relationships and classroom spaces where students can share family stories, life experiences and funds of knowledge. More info on her work can also be found on her website.