SwTxPCA: Jedi Interns

Nancy G. Barron
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

“The Rhetorical Situation of Jedi Knights: The Persuasive Powers of Student Internship Work”

What do you do when you have two audiences? Persuading students and the administration at the same town.

new program, no funds (WAC, WIC)
Interdisciplinary Writing Program
They didn’t expect it to work. How could I push the importance of writing?
a growing number of Chinese and Saudis at our uni
curriculum redesign (specifically jr. level “w”)

Writing, research, design, presentation
university culture of writing
–faculty expectations
–student perceptions of fac expectations
students thought they were meeting the faculty expectations.
Faculty were always complaining about their writing.
They rarely fail a course because of the writing.
–extrinsic v intrinsic

What to do?
Administrators: convince them writing is not about correctness
Student interns: convince them that writing is not only at the classroom level

I needed a method to capture the inters’ interests while preparing them to talk to the administration.

What to do?
Problem. Engagement with popular culture is generational.
The students’ t-shirts with Yoda, Vader, Skywalker were “My [older person] gave this to me. I love these movies.”

Preparing the Padawans
Bitzer, Lloyd

Rhetorical Situation
exigence: situation can be addressed with rhetoric
audience: who needs to hear about the situation?
constraints: what prevents the audience from hearing this?


Constraints: students do not know. Faculty are implicit. Administrators are absent.

Drucker (265-66), Aristotelian background
“executive should begin by finding out what subordinates want to know, are interested in, …

12-minute survey
250 students, only 2 have said no

interns presented team results to a room full of fac and admin
3 reps were invited to present at Provost’s Academic and Leadership Committee (all deans)
1 intern was Dept of English 1st accepted presenter at the National Conf on UG Research out of 4K applicants

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