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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Caroline Vickers


This thesis examines writing conference interactions between multilingual students and first-year composition instructors in order to understand the co-construction of instructor authority and student agency in discussions of academic writing. Multilingual approaches to first-year writing assert that inviting students’ home languages or dialects into the classroom allows multilingual students to use languages other than English connect with the curriculum, develop rhetorical complexity as writers, and to be validated as language users; however, scholarship could benefit from examining social interactions. Because identities, ideologies, and stances are co-constructed between people and emerge in social interactions,a discourse analysis of interactions between first-year composition instructors and multilingual students could identify ways that multilingual students and instructors position themselves, and how this positioning affects the validation of multilingualism, and hybrid identities.

Data consists of 18 audio recordings of writing conferences between instructors and multilingual students, five interviews with first-year writing instructors, and audio-recorded post-conference interviews, where instructors and students were separately asked open-ended questions about the content of the writing conference. Employing a Communities of Practice lens in a discourse analysis of the data revealed that that expert-novice identities were co-constructed in interaction, and the emergence of this power differential that inhibited the validation of multilingualism, and hybridity. Implications for mitigating instructor authority and promoting student agency in interactions with multilingual students are discussed.