Student Voice and Linguistic Identity: Digital Badging as a Tool for Retention of First Year and First Generation Undergraduates

Childs, 2018 / / August 2018

first gen students a snapshot

This article describes the role that linguists can play in the retention of first year and first generation college students through both collaborative and cross-disciplinary work. By drawing on our academic training, linguists can design materials and implement programs both within and outside of our home academic departments that not only affirm students’ linguistic identities and home languages (National Council of Teachers of English 1974; Smitherman 1995), but also simultaneously engage them in overt discussion about the academic discourse community and ways to negotiate multiple linguistic terrains. An example of this type of engagement and material development is discussed in this article, which examines three learning modules that use an electronic badge system. The modules and badges allow students to explore linguistic diversity and discuss the different ways of “being” (including language) that they encounter in their new academic community. Coupled with these three badges for first year students, additional materials have been developed and implemented for student tutors at the university writing center. These materials better contextualize the linguistic diversity that student tutors encounter as they come into contact daily with linguistic diversity, primarily in the form of Southern U.S. English and African American English varieties.