I have been motivated to research since I began my teaching career at the college level. Though I was motivated to do research, I was a novice at researching. To gain insight into research, I continuously attended the Annual Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) conferences for some years. By attending the research sessions at the conference, I learned some of the intricacies of research related to human subjects. I became familiar with research methodology, methods, tools, findings, and discussion. Besides, by reading articles published in journals, I gained some insights into how to write research articles. While reading journal articles in the NELTA journal, I would turn my mind to publishing a research article one day in the same journal. My interest drove me to research “Dealing with Homework” in 2012. I carried out the research without funding and published a peer-reviewed article in 2012 in the NELTA journal. After its publication, I was further driven to carry out research. In the following years, I applied for funding, and I was funded to execute some research studies: Critical pedagogy in ELT: A case of Dadeldhura and Baitadi districts (2014) funded by the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; The attitudes towards learner autonomy and its current practices in ESL/EFL classroom at higher secondary level (10+2): A case of Dadeldhura and Doti districts (2015) funded by University Grants Commission, Nepal; and Enhancing learner autonomy through the use of ICT (2016) sponsored by the Centre for Research, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. From the first and second funded research studies, I published two peer-reviewed articles on “Critical Pedagogy” and “Learner Autonomy,” respectively, from Nepal (see my CV).
When I came to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to pursue my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition Studies, again, I started to carry out research, for instance, “Exploring Teaching Writing Activities and Teachers’ Concerns in English Classes at Undergraduate Level in Nepal (2020)” and “Promoting Social Justice for Multilingual Writers in Teaching FYC (First-year Composition): Some Considerations (2021).” I did both research studies without funding. From the first study, I published a peer-reviewed article in 2021 from Nepal, and from the second research, I have prepared a journal article, “Difference-Friendly as a Framework for Enacting Social Justice in Multilingual First-Year Composition Classes,” which explores first-year writing instructors’ practices in promoting social justice in the writing class where multilingual students are enrolled. Currently, I am working to submit this article for publication. In May 2021, I received a Summer Graduate Enhancement Award from UTEP for preparing a “Handbook for International Students,” and I prepared a handbook and submitted it to the Graduate School of my university. In 2021 I was also funded a Dodson Research Award to carry out “Students Strategies and Concerns in Developing Writing in Higher Education in Nepal.” However, I could not conduct the research due to travel restrictions to Nepal during the COVID pandemic.
All my research centers on second and multilingual English learners. As I progressed through my Ph.D. coursework, I learned that multilingual learners could be promoted through a social justice approach. I believe that social justice and language are tightly tied to each other, as they can also be used to enact (in)justice in the academic space. Language can even be used as a form of oppression, favoring a certain group of students and at the same time, disfavoring others. As American institutions of higher education are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of languages, culture, and countries of origin, as well as in the educational experiences and practices that students bring to the classroom, the issue of social injustice in higher education is becoming an ever more pressing concern. In this situation, the increasing number of multilingual and international students raises an increasingly important issue to examine and address: That of multilingualism in terms of social justice pedagogy in our writing classrooms.
In my dissertation, I examine and explore how and at what level policies and pedagogies (in terms of teaching contents/materials, assignments, and assessments) have been practiced in American multilingual undergraduate composition/writing classes and how students experience these writing classes from a social justice perspective. To accomplish my research objective, I adopt a phenomenological approach, one of the qualitative research approaches, to examine the lived experiences of multilingual undergraduate composition directors, instructors, and students involved with the issue being investigated.
My interest was sparked to work in promoting multilingual student writers by my own subjective position as a multilingual student coming from a different linguistic, cultural, educational background, and geographical origin than monolingual English-speaking students from the United States. Second, as an Assistant Instructor, I have been teaching undergraduate writing courses for three and a half years at UTEP, a leading Hispanic Serving Institution, and this informs my approach to teaching multilingual student writers. Before teaching at UTEP, I had taught a “Reading and Writing” course in Nepal for multilingual student writers for over a decade.
My interest was further sparked when I had an opportunity to take courses at UTEP, particularly RWS Composition Theory and Pedagogy (5346), RWS Composition Studies (6319), and RWS Advanced Critical Theory (6319). These courses offer a wealth of theoretical ideas concerning how multilingual student writers can be (dis)empowered in writing classes and how composition instructors enact or fail to enact social justice in their respective classes (by resources, course contents, pedagogy, assignments, assessments, policies, etc.). I also serve as an associate editor at Writing Across Curriculum (WAC) Clearing House Publications for a journal, Open Words: Access and English Studies. Currently, I am leading a special issue of the journal “Multilingual Student Writers in Higher Education.” All these experiences bring me some ethos to research this area.
Besides social justice issues, I work in the area of Non-Western Rhetoric, particularly Hindu rhetoric. My forthcoming article in Rhetoric Society America Quarterly (will appear in vol. 52.2), “The Rhetoric of the Bhagavad Gita: Unpacking Persuasive Strategies from a Non-Western Perspective,” deals with three main rhetorical strategies from a Non-Western perspective: Astikya/bhava (ontological) strategy, jnapaka (revelatory) strategy, and tattva/Nyaya (axiological) strategy. I have used the Nyayasutra method to discuss the strategies, a traditional Non-Western rhetorical analysis method.
In the future, I will conduct ethnographic and participatory action research on promoting social justice in writing classes. I will also explore strategies for combating injustice in the community and professional communication at workplace issues through writing. Similarly, I will work on non-Western rhetoric, particularly Hindu Rhetoric, for example, the rhetoric of the Mahabharata, the Upanishad, etc.