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Principles for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing

Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)
(October 1989, Revised November 2013, Revised March 2015, Revised November 2023)

Statement of Purpose

We writing practitioners, researchers, and scholars find ourselves at a juncture where foundational assumptions about the teaching of writing, its place in higher education, and its ability to help foster a truly inclusive democratic society are increasingly contested. Trust in literacy has been eroded over the past decades, coming to an acute crisis in the most recent years where basic facts are in dispute, meaning has been decontextualized, and information weaponized for political gain. Moreover, technology now threatens real human to human communication in the form of A.I. algorithms trained on Large Language Models like ChatGPT. Indeed, the very premises of what it means to be literate and to teach literacy are undergoing rapid change and it is in this moment we set forth guidance to postsecondary teachers, departments, administrators, policy makers and legislators on what our research expertise tells us about how to move through these changes responsibly, ethically, and with equanimity.

This statement is meant to help support and guide the careful work of professionals in their many different contexts and against many different assaults on higher learning. We know that writing, language, and literacy practices can exclude based on who is literate, which literacies count, and what ways of knowing are considered valid (Baker-Bell et al., “This Ain’t Another Statement”; Baker-Bell, Linguistic Justice; Bell; Bonilla-Silva; Canagarajah; Gay; Gonzales and Kells; hooks; Hubrig; Kerschbaum; King et al.; Kirkland; Kynard “Oh No”; Ladson-Billings “From”; Ladson-Billings “Toward”; Love; Muhammad; Paris and Alim; Tayles; Wilkerson). The world looks and to some degree behaves differently depending on whether literacies are made for you or against you. Responding to texts like the Bible are not a pathway to clear guidelines but always situated within centuries of historical context. Inequities also abound in the labor of teaching and we note that the majority of postsecondary teachers nationwide are now adjuncts without tenure protection, and whose terms of employment rely on them delivering a curriculum in which they have little or no say (AAUP). On top of this, postsecondary reading, writing, and academic learning programs are under growing pressure to produce students who can simply “avoid grammatical errors” as part of occupational training, thus eroding the necessary civic aspects and democratic responsibilities of being literate, critical, and deliberative rather than illiterate, compliant, and passive. These erosions come as part of the many assaults on humanities programs in general: the separation of science and humanities education, the framing of educational outcomes in purely economic terms, and the increasingly precarious employment for postsecondary writing teachers (Childress; Hassel and Phillips; Jensen and Griffiths; Khan; Kezar et al.; TYCA Workload; Welch and Scott).  As such, we hope to respond clearly to this moment by recognizing the material inequities and disparities perpetuated by current conditions, and reaffirm the fundamental necessity for training literate citizens who will not fall for the assaults of the more powerful against the disenfranchised.

It is our hope that this statement can help affirm and support these ideals. We also hope this statement will be of value to those who teach across institutions—before, during, and after postsecondary education—because we understand how we are linked in a common endeavor. These institutions include community colleges, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions. We deeply hope this statement supports students, from their right to their own language (CCCC, Smitherman, Perryman-Clark, et. al) to demands for linguistic justice (“This Ain’t Another Statement”; Baker-Bell, Linguistic Justice). We do this in the service of sueñospursuing the light, the many ways language is the tangible essence of human voice, agency, and identity.

Major Premises

Literacy is not a “basic skill” in the sense that it is easy and should be gotten out of the way early in one’s studies, but basic in the sense that it takes an entire career or lifetime to learn to do well and thus must be practiced continually. Language, whether written or spoken, is fluid, wonderfully diverse, never neutral, deeply relational, and entwined with power and ideology. It is central to our lives. It sustains community and belonging as much as it divides and isolates. We understand that abundant knowledges of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other multiply-marginalized communities bring nuance to deeply enrich our understandings of freedom, rhetoric, writing, and each other.

As such, language and writing bring us together, build community, and strengthen our democracy. Reading and writing are acts of taking ownership of language and the stories that circulate around us and through us. It is therefore vital for American higher education and tertiary education abroad that the postsecondary teaching of writing

  • be supported by the selection of highly qualified teachers;
  • supports and guarantees security through tenure and pay equity;
  • be delivered in classrooms with fifteen students or less and by teachers responsible for no more than sixty students per semester;
  • includes instruction in all of writing’s multimodal and multiliterate forms;
  • attends to the ways writing has always been a technology;
  • explicitly attends to matters of race, gender, colonization, and diversity;
  • celebrates student writing and learning;
  • supports students’ abilities to choose among options in terms of style, phrasing, linguistic expression, genre, and delivery;
  • values the assets each student brings to their work and the classroom; and
  • fosters campus-wide understandings of writing and its development as a means of critically creative expression, not just the transmission of thought.

To that end, we detail the following guiding principles and enabling conditions that can help writing teachers, writing program administrators, department heads, library staff, deans, university administrators, and policy makers make decisions that support sound writing instruction. The principles in this document are grounded in the past sixty years of research. This reaffirms our belief that literacy education is part of our commitment to the democratic ideal that we can work among differences toward a better future for all.

Principles of Sound Writing Instruction

Guiding Principles

Sound writing instruction

  • recognizes that writing is relational;
  • emphasizes reading and writing as sociohistorical, racial, cultural, political, and community-based acts;
  • frames reading and writing and its teaching as non-linear, recursive, and rhetorically contingent;
  • unsettles language and ideas about writing that standardize and exclude;
  • integrates technological developments;
  • combines feedback and input from multiple audiences;
  • supports academic, civic, and professional communities in their critical thinking and decision-making;
  • exposes learners to reading and writing a variety of genres in their social contexts.
Enabling Conditions

Sound writing instruction

  • is flexible;
  • attends to material conditions (of both learners and instructors, including appropriate class size, offices, and compensation);
  • stays connected (to both its intended audience and to the research and theories of writing, including those of writing studies);
  • can only be assessed with locally constructed measures.

What follows below is a brief discussion of each of these principles and conditions. Please note how these are braided (Powell and Mukavetz) rather than separate strands. Thus, explanations may attend equally to multiple principles and multiple principles may speak to different explanations.

1. Sound writing instruction recognizes that writing is relational.

To say “writing is relational” is to point out how literacy mediates our social relations. Any written text is only one part in a larger dialogue (Applebee; Nystrand; Beck et al.; Álvarez and Colombo). Relations demand empathy and listening, so part of writing, reading, and literacy is the ability to imagine the conversations in which one participates. Writers both address and invoke their audiences (Ong, Lunsford and Ede), responding to and shaping their audiences through genre, style, tone, and other textual cues. We build worlds together through our reading and writing practices (King; Martinez; Okri) and sound writing instruction invites students to contemplate their world building choices (Garcia, Baca, and Cushman). Teaching writing always begs the question: What kind of world will we build together?

2. Sound writing instruction emphasizes reading and writing as sociohistorical, racial, cultural, political, and community-based acts.

As with principle #4, we understand language use as a richly diverse and complex activity. It is conditioned by one’s culture, one’s language(s), one’s ways of knowing the world, one’s identity and interests, one’s embodiment and physical capacities, and by a host of other variables which all instructors should have training and professional development to pursue. We therefore invite writing instructors, writing program administrators, writing tutors, and assessment designers to adopt an asset orientation regarding written languages rather than a deficit orientation. When we actively and intentionally acknowledge that language is one of the most important aspects of any human group, we honor culture in all its diversity and richness. In doing so, we are also communicating to students—especially those who have traditionally been excluded from higher education—a powerful message: “You matter. You are valued. You belong here.”

We also invite writing instructors to acknowledge that language use is directly linked—in the US and around the world—to racialized understandings of difference and to systems of oppression and violence based on race, gender, class, disability, faith, exposure to trauma, sexual orientation, political orientation, language use, and other variables (Alexander; Cedillo; Hubrig; Kerschbaum; Kinloch et al.; Tayles; Waite). We invite colleagues across institutional boundaries to help subvert and dismantle these oppressive systems.

Furthermore, much of what we thought we knew about language, writing, and literacy is being called into question—especially the hegemony of Standard Written English and the academic essay as the premier form of written communication in our discipline and in our classrooms (see Gonzales and Hall; Baker-Bell et al., “This Ain’t Another Statement”). We invite faculty and curricular planners to think broadly and inclusively about written communication, even beyond alphabetic scripts, and to nurture and support creativity and variety in student written expression for all abilities (see Haas; Kinkead; Romano; Disability Studies in Composition: Position Statement on Policy and Best Practices). We encourage assignments that promote practices in multiple genres of written expression such as creative nonfiction, hip hop lyrics, parodies, poems, recipes, poster presentations, counterstories, allegories, fables, autobiographic reflection, narrated dialogue, personal letters, op-eds, family and community histories, personal reflections, and so many more (Bell; Lujan 56; Martinez; Sirc 2002). Teachers can bring this rich diversity of culture, genre, and literacy practices into their classrooms as one means to counter student “practices of resistance” to standardized instruction like silence or eye-rolling (Kinloch, in Paris and Alim). Following Jamila Lyiscott, we urge educators to regard the multiply situated social nature of literacies as full of opportunity to engage in “linguistic celebration” (“Three” 3:46).

3. Sound writing instruction unsettles language and ideas about writing that standardize and exclude.

Sound writing instruction needs to unsettle many ideas and terms about writing that are commonly used to teach, understand, and assess both writing and academic research (Baker-Bell et al., “This Ain’t Another Statement”; Baker-Bell, Linguistic Justice; Bell; Canagarajah; Gay; Kirkland; Kynard, “Oh No”; Love; Muhammad; Paris and Alim; Wilson; Tuck and Yang; Murray and Tsuchiya; Kirsch et al.). In many ways, as our research listed points out, common terms and methods of teaching and assessing writing often exclude the very sociocognitive developments required for knowledge transfer that is the lynchpin of postsecondary education. Such terms may include, but are not limited to the following:

clear appropriate effective
conventional real audience good writer/good writing
remediation authentic audience formal/informal language use
American/British/ other national language standard strong
adapt expectation efficient

We are not saying these terms should never be used, but simply suggest them as sites of further local inquiry to examine our own biases and assumptions. We must be aware how such terms are weighted toward certain literacies and their situations. Being mindful of this allows us to examine our own ethics and how they impact members of our local community, which is itself a sound guiding principle for all writing instructors, programs, and managers.

With this, we acknowledge the emerging development of new paradigms for the understanding of language, writing, and literacy instruction. These new paradigms recognize the hegemony and centrality of colonialist assumptions about clarity, language, audience expectations, and standards. While the standardization of such colonial grammars, genres, and expectations has been a source of comfort and surety for many, it has had the consequence of both excluding students and erasing cultural ideas. Some things simply cannot be said in “standard” forms of English, Spanish, French, or other languages. Further, recognizing positionality alone does little to recognize and challenge embodied discourses of inequality (Paris and Alim). We find ourselves in a liberatory place that requires new ways to talk with learners and each other about how and why we communicate, develop new assessment procedures, and integrate new genres and forms of writing other than the decontextualized academic essay. This new paradigm is open-ended, becoming a kind of evolving and iterative conversation where these terms are more carefully thought through, explained, and put into local practice.

4: Sound writing instruction exposes learners to reading and writing a variety of genres in their social contexts.

A significant part of teaching writing is teaching reading (Baron; Blau; Carillo, Teaching; Wineburge et al.; Del Principe and Ihara; Klein; Smith; Sullivan et al., Deep Reading, Deep Learning; Wolf, Proust; Wolf, Reader; Wolf and Barzillai). Related to unsettling our own predispositions and in accordance with the CCCC Position Statement on the Role of Reading in College Writing Classrooms, we invite compositionists to become strong reading teachers as well as strong writing teachers. This can help writing teachers employ strategies to promote critical, creative, reflective, and joyful sustained reading practices. Rather than superficial comprehension, which relies on a “data mining” approach to reading comprehension (Carillo), deep reading engages students with questions and interpretations that have no set answer. The readings themselves elicit and require “perspective taking”—a process that is at the very core of the imaginative critical and creative metacognition we addressed in Principle #1. Such imagining requires self-reflection, social-emotional learning, and recognition of multiple situated interpretations.

Assignment design, text selection, and assessment protocol all become crucial variables as teachers across disciplines seek to promote deep reading and deep learning. If students know that the evaluation process for a course “is going to stress higher order thinking skills—analysis, synthesis, and evaluation—then they realize that they simply must read deeply. If texts and papers allow the student to be successful with only rote memorization (knowledge and comprehension) there is little enticement to read deeply” (Roberts and Roberts 130; see also Klein; Mehta and Fine; Wolf and Barzillai). We encourage teachers across disciplines and across institutional boundaries to design assignments, projects, and learning opportunities that promote (and require) deep reading.

5. Sound writing instruction frames literacies and their teaching as non-linear, recursive, and rhetorically contingent.

Since the 1960s, research has repeatedly demonstrated how writing is a recursive process and that more experienced writers have developed a vocabulary and conceptual apparatus of how they purposefully engage in that recursiveness (Braddock et al.; Emig; Flower and Hayes). Purpose-driven iterations do not necessarily make the end result come quicker, nor do they guarantee a better outcome every time. They are, instead, a practice of writing not unlike practices performed by athletes. In these practices, writers can try different approaches to see what works. This puts the emphasis on the word “essay,” from the French essai, as an attempt in practice and not just an attempt in the production of a coherent thought. In the various repeated attempts engaged in and through practice, learners can be encouraged to take risks, experiment, and comment upon those things which they felt worked for their purposes and those that did not.

This precludes a sense of a “perfect” piece of writing since a writer’s purpose is always in relation to an audience (see Principle #1). It is the contingency of rhetoric, then, that guides the qualitative measure and assessment of both written texts and the language used by students to think through their writing process. Those measures and language cannot be reduced to grammatical correctness (see Principle #4), or rigid genre formulations, both of which can only be learned in rhetorical context to begin with. Learning happens in the process and the process should provide the learning outcomes, not the product (see Principle #12).

6. Sound writing instruction combines feedback and input from multiple audiences.

Because the process of writing is iterative and guided by relational and rhetorical parameters, there can be no single source of authoritative feedback (Yu and Schunn). Rather, multiple sources of feedback shed light on what works in a draft and what other options a writer may have to revise. Students benefit from experienced guidance that purposefully combines rhetorical insights from many different readers. Writing centers, peer tutors, and other academic support staff are often rich sources of feedback to all learners and can arguably be more insightful to postsecondary students simply because they are removed from the grading portion of the class. In class, peers can also be a rich source for both feedback and to help teachers provide guided instruction on reading generously for helpful feedback (Nystrand; Hart-Davidson and Meeks). Teaching others how to read for and provide peer feedback takes a “learning by doing” approach to the writing process since it is the critical, creative, and careful sifting through of possibilities in writing that constitutes the real content of writing instruction.

7. Sound writing instruction integrates technological developments.

Writing has always been a technology, and technological developments are themselves worthy of inclusion and study as part of the practice of writing. Writing teachers are in the best position to handle ethical use of such technologies and demonstrate how technologies can help writing be lively, powerful, and rhetorically effective. Texts are inherently multimodal. Composing draws on rich data sets of knowledge and memory that require ethical frameworks for use, and LLMs like Chat GPT, LaMDA, and Orca extend the need for such frameworks and critical reflection.

For example, economically privileged students have always had the ability to pay ghost writers, so we remind educators that LLMs have not altered the possibilities of academic dishonesty, only changed its socioeconomics and accessibility. Various concerns about A.I. underscores the need for this statement because the concerns often confuse the purposes of writing instruction by placing undue emphasis on the product rather than the process (see Principle #5). Just as mathematicians were wary of allowing the classroom use of powerful scientific calculators developed in the 1970s, writing instructors are currently wary of contemporary computing power and its effects. While academic dishonesty is possible in any system and LLMs can produce highly readable summaries and positions with evidence, an emphasis on process and an ongoing dialogue with students about their reasons for changing drafts is instruction that clearly focuses on student learning rather than rote textual production. As with mathematical problems in trigonometry or calculus, the emphasis is less on the result and more on the ability of learners to show their work.

Because computing power does not show signs of decreasing and since LLMs are being incorporated into search engines and other tools upon which research depends, blanket prohibitions against such tools seem short-sighted and even counter-productive. Instead, teachers should help both colleagues and students critically examine their own uses, collaborate with learners and community members on the ethical dimensions of these novel tools, and develop common community understandings of how these tools affect learning. We expand this to other forms of expression to include multimodal and multiliteracies instruction congruent with the other points we lay out here. Web texts, video, podcasts, graphic novels, and other modes of composition should be included alongside written composition because they require similar composing processes (see Principle #2).

8. Sound writing instruction supports academic, civic, and professional communities in their critical thinking and decision-making.

Reading and writing are acts of taking ownership of the language and the stories that circulate around us and through us. Whether in a professional/technical discourse community or in civic life, the ability to relate through symbolic media of one kind or another is vital. Assignment prompts and practices must acknowledge and include the various purposes of discourse communities. These purposes are always ideological, though that does not make ideologically driven arguments or writing acceptable (Carillo, Teaching). Rather, students must be taught to recognize and distinguish hyper-partisan or ideologically driven forms of reasoning from purposeful work toward a more common goal. This applies to both reading and writing, especially in an age of misinformation and disinformation that is designed and produced to polarize groups and a broader polity. Writing instruction is therefore laden with ethical questions for both local and more distant audiences and the effects of writing for all those involved, especially those obscured from typical group decision-making.

As we affirmed in Principle #1, writing instruction is central to the practice of democracy. It is not only the medium to express one’s own views and thoughts, but the medium to collaboratively examine the options before us (Garcia, Baca, and Cushman).

Enabling Conditions

 9. Sound writing instruction provides students with the support and flexibility necessary to achieve their goals.

Writers come to us with different kinds of abilities, backgrounds, cultures, capacities, attitudes, habits, and other strengths. It must be accessible to all. As writing teachers, we need to meet students where they are rather than where we would like them to be. Writing instruction not only provides the space and means to practice, but attends to the individual learner from early on in its instructional design. Students from disproportionately impacted groups often need additional flexibility, support, and resources so that they can access and fully benefit from the opportunities provided by literacy instruction. This can be achieved, in part, through Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (Dolmage, “Universal Design”), integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) practices, culturally sustainable pedagogies, and other curricular initiatives.

  • Institutions should provide support necessary for students to achieve the writing, reading, and critical analysis goals established within their degree programs and also emphasize that this support is available for writers of varying abilities and levels of experience. These institutional resources include:writing classes, writing centers, embedded tutoring programs, and resource centers;
  • appropriate local placement procedures that maximize prompt transfer level completion rates (Poe et al.; Toth et al.);
  • writing across the curriculum (WAC), writing in the disciplines (WID), writing enriched curricula (WEC) and/or other programs to help faculty identify expectations of FYC or entry-level writing so that they may offer instruction in writing in courses beyond them in ways which align and transfer educational outcomes (Bazerman et al.; Anson and Flash).
10. Sound writing instruction stays connected to both its intended audience and to the research and theories of written composition and writing studies.

Like all academic disciplines and our wider culture, writing studies is an evolving conversation. To that end, writing instructors must be supported in staying abreast of research and pedagogies in the field as well as understanding the changing pressures and interests of students (Kahn; Sternglass). Neither of these can happen within strict pay-by-credit-hour jobs unless those activities are done without pay.

Institutions and programs emphasize this purpose by ensuring that instructors have background in and experience with theories of writing. It is therefore incumbent upon administration to support these critical tasks in material ways such as, but not limited to, travel allowances for conferences and symposia, free access to library databases, sponsoring professional development, providing professional development leave even for contingent faculty, research and mentorship opportunities with students, and stable employment so faculty can know individuals over the span of their college career. Institutions, especially institutions that employ graduate students, early career instructors, and faculty from outside the discipline of Composition and Rhetoric to teach courses in writing, must support development of this background knowledge by ensuring instructors receive sufficient grounding in and practice/mentoring with regard to key concepts associated with theories of writing. Because these resources support the teaching of writing, these resources must extend to all faculty, including faculty at open access institutions, and not just faculty employed at research institutions. This support impacts teaching and learning in profound ways.

11. Sound writing instruction attends to material and emotional conditions of both learners and instructors.

Neither teachers nor learners can operate when their material and emotional conditions are not met. Cases of contingent faculty living out of their cars or being denied medical care because they lacked adequate insurance are simply unacceptable. So, too, are the often under-reported cases of student food and housing insecurity, mental health crises, exposure to trauma, incidents of rape and bullying, racial profiling and daily microaggressions, and the lack of accommodations for not only the physically different, but the neurodivergent learners who are in our writing classes.

Institutions should at all levels take these incidents seriously and provide both meaningful resources and adequate compensation to support teachers and students as they meet the challenges of a society that has scaled back its safety nets. At minimum, writing instructors should be paid a living wage, be entitled to adequate health care coverage that won’t leave them bankrupt, and be given the job security and stability to lead meaningful lives outside of work (Childress; Hassel and Phillips; Kezar et al.; TYCA Workload). This extends to the number of students teachers must work with and that entails class sizes. It is the position of CCCC that

  • No more than 20 students should be permitted in any writing class. Ideally, classes should be limited to 15.
  • No English faculty members should teach more than 60 writing students a term. Any more than this, and teachers are spread too thin to effectively engage with students on their writing (see also Horning 2007,, “ADE Guidelines for Class Size and Workload for College and University Instructors of English: A Statement of Policy.”; TYCA; TYCA Workload).

Institutions should provide resources necessary for effective instruction, including office space to meet with students individually and privately, computers and network access, and office technologies (such as photocopiers). Institutions should also facilitate instructor access to personnel and units that can inform their practices and offer helpful efficiencies such as librarians, writing centers and directors, and teaching and learning centers. Institutions should also foster department and program cultures that recognize instructors—whether in appointments that emphasize research and scholarship or in those that focus fully or primarily on teaching or administration—as scholars and full members of the discipline. Institutions should ensure that all members of a department or program have the opportunity to participate in shared governance.

12. Sound writing instruction can only be assessed with locally constructed measures.

The move to homogenous language is anti-democratic, imbued with an authoritarian impulse because it works to remove the textures of democracy and homogenize us into a single public. Similarly, assessments of writing based on a single audience or a single ideal of an audience are not universally applicable. Rather, assessments must recognize linguistic and rhetorical differences and be derived from the consensus of local readers. Rubrics like AAC&U are good places to start developing local assessments, but they cannot be used in place of judgments made by local readers and stakeholders.

Institutions emphasize that effectiveness is assessed collaboratively and in multiple sites by using assessments that include direct evidence of both instructor practice and student writing performance, such as student writing from the context or class where instruction has taken place (Inoue 2015). High stakes timed tests of writing that focus on scenarios removed from authentic instructional contexts, or even grammar tests, do not provide valid evidence of student learning within or beyond a writing course. We encourage all assessment professionals and accrediting agencies to be familiar with writing assessment practices and intensive writing theory and to support cross-institutional conversations about what is valued in writing, why it is valued, and the many ways those values are indicated.

13. Sound writing instruction is made possible by strong preparation in graduate school to teach at diverse types of institutions

One key area that needs to be addressed in terms of preparing teachers of writing is making all types of higher education institutions—not just research universities—visible to graduate students in English, composition studies, and rhetoric. These principles include HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), tribal colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, and community colleges. As an example, the exclusion of community colleges has been a long-standing concern in our profession that dates back fifty years (Kynard; Calhoon-Dillahunt et al.; Hassel and Giordano; Hassel and Phillips; Jensen and Griffiths; Jensen and Toth; Tinberg).

Graduate training institutions should ensure that students are familiar with and prepared to teach at a variety of institutions; as Lovas notes, “you cannot represent a field if you ignore half of it” (276). As the recent TYCA statement, TYCA Guidelines for Preparing Teachers of English in the Two-Year College, recommends, this professionalization would include helping graduate students become familiar with the “distinctive history, missions, and institutional conditions at two-year colleges” and preparing future college writing faculty to teach “the culturally, linguistically, socioeconomically, and academically diverse students who attend two-year colleges” (Calhoon-Dillahunt et al. 556). Community college English teachers are the new teaching majority, and most students majoring in English, composition studies, and rhetoric in graduate school will work at some point in their careers at community colleges (Hassel and Giordano; Hassel and Phillips). This issue has significant ethical, equity, and social justice implications. We urge our colleagues to take up this important work.

14. Sound writing instruction is built on research from our discipline that is strategic, practical, generalizable, built on systematically gathered evidence, and public-facing.

With confidence in higher education down sharply in recent years across the nation, the need for strategic, public-facing research that documents the important work we do as literacy educators is urgent. Our call for replicable, aggregable, and data-supported research (Gonzales and Kells; Hassel and Phillips 37–78; Hesse; Jackson et al.; King et al.; Meltzer 1–5; Sternglass) is especially urgent today when the value of higher education is no longer regarded as self-evident by many Americans (Blake; Brenan; Tough). To move this important work forward, we invite our colleagues to become teacher-scholar-activist-organizers. The exigency for such work is compelling (Jensen and Griffiths; Kahn and Lynch-Biniek; Taylor; Welch and Scott; Adler-Kassner and Wardle).

Institutions should value and fund research in our field that includes the “new majority” of college students—those who attend access-oriented institutions, including community colleges, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions (Hassel and Phillips; Hassel and Giordano). Such research and sponsored programs, like community engagement and service-learning courses, must be designed to serve the needs of local student populations. Institutions should also take into account issues related to precarity, labor, and material conditions that have become a standard part of most literacy teachers’ working lives—and a part of many of our students’ lives as well (Childress; Kezar et al.; TYCA Workload). This new majority of students “needs to be seen more clearly and described more richly within the research in our field” (Hassel and Phillips 4).


We encourage language arts teachers to create conditions for learning to thrive (Love; Rose). Doing so, we must acknowledge—and address—structural/institutional barriers to college writing. Who are we limiting access to? Who do we consistently leave out? When we cultivate learning with the needed support systems and conditions, we generate change and new possibilities, hope and opportunity, and student success. We also strengthen our democracy and our collective ability toward “a more perfect union.”

We are in a moment of mass misinformation designed to use language to divide rather than unite us and to further increase rather than rebalance the power differential between rich and poor. As such, it is incumbent on language arts teachers across institutional boundaries to provide learners and the nation with critical thinkers, discerning minds, and considerate citizens who can continue pursuing the light, the sueños that brings so many to America and keeps our nation strong, free, and truly equal.

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This statement was generously created by the CCCC Task Force to Revise the CCCC Principles for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing. The members of this task force included:

David M. Grant
Trace Daniels-Lerberg
Sara Alvarez
Jasmine Villa
Austin Jackson
Hua Zhu
Ersula Ore
Matthew Nelson
Patrick Sullivan


This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.


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