Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom

Reviewed by Jocelyn Wenona Armes, Graduate Part-time Instructor, CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 3

This text is intended as a teaching aid for instructors of college students to learn how to use autoethnographic composition in writing and research. To the extent that it is not a textbook for teaching qualitative methodology, or directed toward a student audience, it is moderately successful in conveying approaches to teaching ethnographic writing. Given that the audience is intended to be the instructors of such courses, more time could be spent addressing the epistemological/ontological positions inherent in this form of inquiry.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Content is appropriate for the aims of this text. The assignments at the end of each chapter/topic are helpful, practical exercises for instructors to implement. The examples of student writing provided at the end of the book are very helpful.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

This topic is -- like many humanities texts -- not likely to become outdated in content.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is written in accessible prose; the author seemingly intends to present material conversationally. This tone advances the purpose of the text: to utilize personal experiences in improving writing and communication skills.

Consistency rating: 4

The text is not specifically about conducting ethnographic/autoethnographic research. It is about instruction using these methodologies as vehicles for improving composition. The text is consistently situated in this framework.

Modularity rating: 4

The chapters are small and divided into consistent subheadings. The student examples are grouped separately from the main text, and in their own units.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The topics are presented in a a logical order; beginning with the internal structures of a course that might incorporate these techniques, then moving toward specific/practical exercises.

Interface rating: 4

N/A -- purely text.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

Grammatical errors were not observed.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

The student work examples feature a diverse array of perspectives, identities, and experiences. These thoughtfully curated exemplars render the text a culturally sensitive and inoffensive resource.