Duffey, Suellyn et. al. “Conflict, Collaboration, and Authority: Graduate Students and Writing Program Administration.”

Duffey, Suellyn et. al. “Conflict, Collaboration, and Authority: Graduate Students and Writing Program Administration.” Rhetoric Review 21.1 (2002): 79-87.
Summary:
Unlike many of what they call “cautionary” tales, this group-written account of several scholars’ experiences as TAs who acted as small group facilitators during TA training¬† is “cautiously optimistic” (79) in that it shares a situation in which conflict was able to be generative. They briefly take up the ways in which our field and academics in the humanity tend to demonize bureaucracies, only to find themselves in the midst of bureaucratic practices and administrative impositions as a necessary condition of work in the university. “Through [their] story of the generative conflict that arose out of [their] work together, [they]… suggest that collaboration can foster critical self-reflection in peer teaching groups and establish a community of teachers with their own professional identities–identities that will allow them to understand and enact, in powerful ways, their roles as agents of change when they become faculty members” (80).

Area Cluster:
107-Institutional and Professional

Methodology:
Storytelling, Optimism, Ideology Reinforcement and Reification

Most Valuable Citations:
RMiller SMiller JTrimbur

Money Quotes:
“By the time we began working as peer-group facilitators, most of us thought that we had reached agreement on the relevant theoretical issues concerning the curriculum and collaboration. We were surprised, however, to find that in the following year we never achieved a consensus on what specifically would constitute collaboration in each of our peer teaching groups” (81).

“Our weekly staff meetings turned into an extended battle over how much authority to assert as peer-group facilitators and how formal our groups should be” (81).

“In these struggles over group structure and dynamics, however, we clarified the various kinds of authority available to us as facilitators. These struggles exemplify the generative conflict of collaboration, particularly as it is described by such scholars as Bleich, Miller, Leverenz, Trimbur, and Wolf, who seek to foster agency for all members of a group, including those who hold and express contrary opinions. It is this effort to engage rather than to erase difference that we advocate here” (81).

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