Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice

By Sarah Benesch | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
A Negotiated Assignment:
Possibilities and Challenges

The examples of critical EAP in previous chapters were linked to undergraduate general education courses whose curricula followed departmental guidelines and the content teacher's chosen textbook. Although in two of those cases, I met with the content teacher before the semester began to discuss reading and writing assignments, the pedagogy and syllabi of the content course were not negotiated. The expectation was that the EAP class would facilitate student understanding of concepts introduced in the content class. This arrangement constructed EAP as a service course, although in the examples I show how that positioning can be challenged by the EAP teacher through alternative curricular choices and mediation of student resistance to unfavorable conditions.

The EAP courses described in this chapter, offered through the College of Staten Island Freshman Workshop Program (FWP), were not linked to lecture courses nor was the content-course syllabus predetermined. Rather, the FWP had been set up to facilitate curricular and pedagogical negotiation and collaboration across the curriculum (Benesch, 1988; Ortiz, 1996). FWP's deliberate divergence from the usual conventions of coverage and teacher-dominated talk elevates EAP from a subordinate role in the content/language relationship to an equal partner. FWP faculty collaborate with each other and with students about teaching and materials to provide an intellectually engaging experience. Central to the pedagogy is allowing the courses to be guided by the pace of student engagement and understanding. That is, the curriculum is cocreated by teachers and students as the course progresses, taking students' questions and difficulties into account.

The negotiated assignment in one linked course discussed in this chapter highlights alternatives to the traditional role of EAP as a support to preestablished aims and procedures of content courses. Yet, it also points to

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