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Student Spotlight: Fangzhi He, PhD in Teaching & Curriculum

Fangzhi He, PhD in Teaching & Curriculum

Fangzhi He, a PhD candidate in teaching and curriculum, teaches Mandarin at Allendale Columbia School. She grew up in a rural village in China where many people continue to struggle to make ends meet. She is grateful for the opportunities and changes that education has brought her, especially at the Warner School. Education not only gives her opportunities for a better life, she says, but also changes the way she sees and acts in the world.

Why teaching & curriculum?
I’ve always loved teaching. Previously, I taught at a university in China for more than 10 years, and the more I taught, the more I realized that I needed more content knowledge and pedagogical skills. Professional workshops no longer sufficed, so I decided to pursue my PhD.

Why Warner?
I chose the Warner School partly because of its legacy, reputation, and commitment to social justice in education. I was also drawn to its current emphasis on anti-racist curricula and active engagement in local communities.

What have you enjoyed most at Warner?
The student-centered courses, a wide range of workshops, and the amazing faculty and staff who support students and treat them as equals.

What organizations or volunteer work have you been involved in
At Warner, I work as a writing consultant and teach various courses on campus. I also teach academic skills to refugee and immigrant students at Monroe Community College, work as a professional writing tutor, teach business writing at SUNY Brockport, and teach Mandarin at Allendale Columbia School. In addition to teaching, I actively volunteer with professional community services to lend my writing expertise. I have volunteered to review various conference proposals for the NYS TESOL Annual Conferences, the Conference on College Composition & Communication (CCCC), and the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC). I have also been an invited reviewer for Programmatic Perspectives, a CPTSC peer-reviewed journal, and the Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, a top-tier English medium journal in China. Additionally, I review journal manuscripts for several journals, such as the Journal of Second Language Writing, and I currently serve on the Tutor Talks Executive Committee to design and run monthly workshops on writing tutoring. I also sit on the Kathleen Ethel Welch Outstanding Article Award Selection Committee to review articles for the 2023 CCCC Convention.

What is the focus of your dissertation?
My dissertation investigated how six EAL master’s students in an Anglophone university constructed identity through their citation practices in writing their master’s thesis, supported by a writing course. Findings show that the participants developed a stronger writer identity during the process of writing their theses. This development is manifested in changes in citation practices across thesis drafts, such as mainly citing peer-reviewed journal articles as sources, increasing the citation density, increasing the use of non-integral citations and generalization citations, increasing the range of reporting verbs, and decreasing the use of direct quotations. Students also increased their confidence in academic writing and reader awareness. This development was supported by writing instruction and feedback from the instructor, writing consultants, peers, and friends.
What do you enjoy most about teaching Mandarin?
The most rewarding part of my current job at Allendale Columbia School is seeing my students grow their critical awareness and cultural tolerance as they learn about cultures and languages different than English.

What’s next for you?
I love teaching and will continue teaching as a lifelong career. I will continue to strive to affect change in my students so that they can have a better life and be change agents.