This spring, writing major, Lily Gretz ('21) received 1st prize at the Loyola Research Colloquium
for her 2-year research project exploring linguistic diversity at Loyola. In her fall 2018 Writing Center Practice and Theory class, Lily studied rhetorical diversity, an appreciation and utilization of various writing techniques from different languages and cultures.
According to many writing center theorists, many students of color and ESL students feel isolated in writing settings because they are dissuaded from using their personal voices. Hoping to further Loyola’s mission towards greater equity, Lily designed an experiment through which professors were asked to grade short essays from students of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
The comments professors made when grading served as qualitative data and were categorized based on their alignment with rhetoric or grammar. Over half of the 5 professors graded with a greater focus on grammar, which suggested that they demonstrate a lesser appreciation for rhetorical diversity. A follow-up survey distributed to Loyola students demonstrated that students of color feel their identities are underappreciated and that they are less comfortable writing in their personal voice than white students.
Lily hopes that these revelations will inspire professors across Loyola to think more holistically when grading writing assignments so as to ensure students of color and second-language students feel empowered to use their personal rhetorics. She also hopes that this project will give the Loyola Writing Center direction on how to become more inclusive.
Watch Lily’s Research Colloquium presentation on YouTube