Pushing Boundaries and Making Meaning in the Third Space

Main Article Content

Heather Carroll
Melissa Burwell


Using a Scholarly Personal Narrative approach, the authors examine their own lived experiences negotiating and navigating the third space as student support professionals. They highlight the feminization of student support roles and the gendered metaphors that permeate discussion of academic labor. Through sharing and responding to each other’s personal narratives that include explorations of their upbringings and professional journeys, they offer a definition of academic labor, examine the idea of expertise and the relationship between them. Drawing on their individual institutional contexts and literature on academic work, they argue that collaboration and community can help individuals navigate the third space as educators working in staff positions at small, liberal arts colleges. They call for faculty and staff to push their institutions to rethink who participates in the practices of teaching and shared governance, going beyond current boundaries to find new meaning in shared work.

Article Details

Academic Labor in the Third Space
Author Biographies

Heather Carroll, Carthage College

Dr. Heather Carroll is currently the Director of the Writing Center and Peer Tutoring at Carthage College. She earned her doctorate in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and has over 20 years of experience in higher education. In addition to administrative experience, she has taught English as a Second Language as well as academic writing and writing pedagogy in a variety of contexts. Carroll’s research interests focus on issues of linguistic attitudes and language bias.

Melissa Burwell, Xavier University

Dr. Melissa Burwell serves as Dean of Retention at Xavier University. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Learning from the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis). Dr. Burwell has over 20 years of experience in higher education and non-profit management with an emphasis on student retention and success initiatives in K-12 and higher education settings. Her research interests include examining the intersection of gender and women’s leadership in student affairs along with evaluating the effectiveness of retention initiatives on student persistence and success.