Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Rhetoric, Writing and Discourse Studies

Committee Director

Louise Wetherbee Phelps

Committee Director

Julia Romberger

Committee Member

Staci Defibaugh

Committee Member

John Trimbur

Committee Member

David Ayers


In this autoethnographically-infused natural history of discourse (NHD) (Silverstein and Urban, 1996; Slembrouck, 2001), I use methods from critical discourse studies (CDS) to trace 10 years of changes in “remediation” discourses within a corpus of texts associated with Missouri HB 1042, a piece of legislation passed in 2012 that requires higher education institutions to “replicate best practices in remediation” (CBHE, 2013). After providing national and state context related to HB 1042 and the discourses circulating within the HB 1042 corpus of texts, I describe what I call the “higher ed’s remediation problem” discourse, focusing on three discourse features that I surmise provoked affective responses on the part of the two-year faculty and program administrators who participated in the early HB 1042 policy creation and implementation process. Then, I document the near disappearance of the three features of the “higher ed’s remediation problem” discourse and describe the shift to a student deficit discourse in the finalized “remedial” education policy that resulted from HB 1042, paying particular attention to what is known as a placement floor or threshold. After describing faculty and program administrator beliefs and rationales for supporting the threshold, I describe how the “remediation” discourses began to intermingle. Next, I discuss how the “higher ed’s remediation problem” discourse has been circulated and taken up in recent years in a new form: the “higher ed’s remediation equity problem” discourse. Drawing upon my experiences engaging with HB 1042 and reflecting on the critical discourse study, I conclude with a justification for using a critical engagement lens in policy contexts and begin to sketch out frameworks and principles that might be useful for applying this lens in two-year contexts.


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Copyright, 2022, by Mary Casey Reid, All Rights Reserved.