Linguistic discrimination on campus: Ratings of and attitudes toward student writing with African-American English

Ho'omana Nathan Andrew Horton


Based on empirical evidence, this study identifies a contradiction between attitudes towards the use of African-American English in student writing vs. how such writing is actually rated by university English instructors. Even when instructors expressed highly positive views of the use of stigmatized varieties of English in student essays, a statistically significant difference (p=0.027) was found between their ratings of essays with and without features of African-American English. These findings indicate that university instructors, even those who are consciously aware that linguistic discrimination is problematic, are not immune to the effects of linguistic discrimination. These results highlight the importance of dialect education and awareness programs for university English instructors as well as the need for further research into the prevalence of standard language ideology and linguistic discrimination at the university level.


writing assessment; African-American English; language attitudes; standard language ideology; linguistic discrimination

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