Crow Spotlight: The Results of Resolve and Research

“I’ve changed so much in Crow. The Hadi in 2015 was motivated and in a rush to share his ideas, but the Hadi in Crow now is more of a listener and wants to grasp the fresh ideas colleagues are bringing to the table. You can never imagine how enriching it is when you intentionally and carefully listen to other people.” 

An Introduction to Dr. Hadi Banat

Exciting things are happening for Crow as one of our long-time researchers, Dr. Hadi Banat, is making headway in four different research projects: designing a self-placement tool for general writing courses, adapting the literacy narrative genre to a transculturation curriculum, studying the effects of writing center work on students’ racial identities, and examining sustainable collaborative infrastructures through constructive distributed work (CDW). The projects investigate how traditional and new practices in writing studies address complex issues in education for diverse student populations and culturally homogenous faculty. Ultimately, Dr. Banat plans to utilize the outcomes of this research to promote horizontal learning in each perspective while bolstering the confidence of English language learners and multilingual writers in higher education. 

Self-guided Placement Tool for General Writing Education

Currently, Dr. Banat conducts research at The University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston). There, he has designed a self-guided placement tool for incoming, multilingual student writers. 

First, the tool analyzes a student’s prior literacy practices, genre awareness/knowledge, and multilingual repertoire to provide the student feedback so they can choose classes that best fit their needs and interests. It then demystifies the student’s general education writing requirements while supporting their transition from a familiar ethnic community into a new, uncharted academic community. 

Banat explained multicultural students can struggle when shifting between different settings. Since many have multifaceted identities related to language and culture, they often navigate more hardships than domestic students. As they are developing language proficiency and building writing knowledge, they are also learning a new academic language befitting the expectations of their new discourse community. 

“UMass Boston is the third most diverse urban campus in the United States so we have 62% of our student population being first generation, 62% being students of color, 59% being multilingual and 15% being international,” said Banat. “These students are kind of lost between different communities because there is little intervention that helps them transfer their knowledge from one space to another. As a multilingual writing scholar, I am committed to serving the most special student population on our campus.”

This means that more than half of the students at UMass Boston could benefit from his self-guided placement tool as a primarily non-traditional group and the writing curriculum in the ESL program he has been directing since the Fall of 2020. 


Dr. Banat acknowledged that he also struggled to enter new communities throughout his adolescence and education.  

“I always grew up in places where I had to navigate my own differences and other differences. I was always pushed to leave my comfort zone and to be challenged. Of course, there were traumas, but they contributed to my mobility and how I navigate life, research, and decisions.” 

He is of Palestinian descent but was born in Lebanon and grew up there. Later, he instructed in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in the United Arab Emirates until he realized he wanted more and moved to the United States to further his knowledge of rhetorical composition and second language studies by pursuing research and a Ph.D. degree. 

Adapting the Literacy Narrative Genre for a Transculturation Curriculum

In 2016, he teamed up with researchers Dr. Rebekah Sims, Dr. Phuong Tran, Dr. Parva Panahi, and Dr. Bradley Dilger to investigate the role of the transculturation curriculum in developing intercultural competence among domestic and multilingual students in First Year Writing at Purdue. With the Purdue research team, he established a curriculum promoting cultural competence or awareness of varying cultural beliefs and practices. 

In redesigning the transculturation curriculum for a two-course sequence at UMass Boston, he starts with the cultural literacy narrative and its role in helping students transfer funds of knowledge between their home and school cultures. He highlighted: “The traditional 5-paragraph formula is a genre that doesn’t really exist outside college. Think about it, you’re writing reports, emails, and proposals to professors that aren’t the 5-paragraph genre that students learn. So I’m using narration for dual purposes.”

Not only does this assignment recognize cultural differences, but it also embraces them so students can express themselves and their experiences in their writing. 

“It helps them transition by assigning them writing that is connected to their own personal histories and their own personal stories. It then invites them to bring that culture into their new learning context and develop their confidence so they know their resources and their funds of knowledge are embraced and welcomed.”

Effects of Writing Center Work on Racial Identity and Confidence

He has also furthered this project at UMass Boston by analyzing how racial identity and standard writing center tutorials impact confidence in writing.

So far, he has collected two datasets and presented this work at IWCA and the Writing Borders Conference with UMB Writing Center’s Assistant Director Dan Messier. With his collaborator, he has submitted the first manuscript of this project for the Writing Center Journal.

Constructive Distributed Work

In addition to Dr. Banat’s transculturation project at Purdue and UMass Boston, he is working within Crow on the Constructive Distributed Work (CDW) project. Their work seeks to analyze collaborative research frameworks. Dr. Michelle McMullin, Dr. Aleksandra Swatek, Dr. Shelton Weech, Dr. Bradley Dilger, and graduate students Wei Xu, and Dilara Avci are all building this model with him. They have applied this study method in other multidisciplinary projects to validate it and have since made it a precedent within Crow’s best practices. 

Dr. Banat himself prioritizes collaboration within his projects because it facilitates the accumulation of multiple perspectives informed by the researchers’ backgrounds and identities.

“Crow is a diverse space. It is diverse in trends of gender, experiences, knowledge, skills, cultures, and identities so being an expert and a scholar in intercultural competence research allows me as a PI and part of the leadership in Crow to make decisions that are sometimes top-down and create lateral spaces for our undergraduate researchers in Crow so they can see the funds of knowledge they bring to a project and how to invest in them.”

The Present and the Future

As of now, members of the CDW project are finalizing data collection and building on the pilot research published in the Proceedings of 2022 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference

In future projects, Dr.Banat plans to take what he’s learned in Crow and apply it in new teams. 

“I’ve changed so much in Crow. The Hadi in 2015 was motivated and in a rush to share his ideas, but the Hadi in Crow now is more of a listener and wants to grasp the fresh ideas colleagues are bringing to the table. You can never imagine how enriching it is when you intentionally and carefully listen to other people.”