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Tanita Saenkhum

Tanita Saenkhum

Tanita Saenkhum

Associate Professor

404 McClung Tower


Tanita Saenkhum joined the Department of English in Fall 2012. She received her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics from Arizona State University. She specializes in second language writing with a focus on placement, assessment, and writing teacher education.

Her book, Decisions, Agency, and Advising: Key Issues in the Placement of Multilingual Writers into First-Year Composition Courses (Utah State University Press), considers the role of students’ own agency in the placement of multilingual writers—including international students and US residents or citizens who are non-native users of English—in US college composition programs. She has published in Journal of Second Language WritingL2 Journal, and Race Ethnicity and Education. Her scholarship has also appeared in several edited collections. Tanita is currently researching English writing education in Thailand. 

Tanita teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in second language writing, writing program administration, teaching English as a Second/Foreign language, second language acquisition, and pedagogical grammar for ESL teachers. She also works closely with graduate students who are interested in second language writing and supervises undergraduate students who want to pursue teaching ESL/EFL. She was Director of ESL from 2013 through 2019. 


  • Ph.D. Arizona State University
  • M.A. Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • M.A. Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • B.A. Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Selected Publications

  • “‘Because she’s not a native speaker of English, she doesn’t have the knowledge’: Positioning NNES Scholars in U.S. Higher Education.” Race Ethnicity and Education, July 2022. (with Chatwara Suwannamai Duran)
  • “Responding to the University’s Internationalization: Establishing Placement Mechanisms for Cross-Cultural Composition.” Building Internationalized Spaces: Second Language Perspectives on Developing Language and Cultural Exchange Programs in Higher Education, edited by Estela Ene, Kyle McIntosh, and Matthew Allen, University of Michigan Press, 2022, pp. 123-140. (with Hannah Soblo)
  • “Preparing Writing Teachers to use Assessment Rubrics.” NYS TESOL Journal, vol. 7, no. 2, 2020, pp. 7-25.
  • “English Writing Instruction and Teacher Preparation in Thailand: Perspectives from the Primary and Secondary Schools.” Second Language Writing Instruction in Global Contexts: English Language Teacher Preparation and Development, edited by Lisya Seloni and Sarah Henderson Lee, Multilingual Matters, 2020, pp. 111-130.
  • “Professional Identity (Re)Construction of L2 Writing Scholars.” L2 Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, 2019, pp. 18-34. (with Soo Hyon Kim)
  • “Navigating Administrator-Researcher Roles: Developing Recruitment Strategies for Conducting Programmatic Assessment with Diverse Undergraduate and Graduate Writers.” Navigating Challenges in Qualitative Educational Research: Research, Interrupted, edited by Todd Ruecker and Vanessa Svihla, Routledge, 2019, pp. 51-61. (with Joe Wilson)
  • “Working Toward Being a Tenured Writing Program Administrator.” Professionalizing Second Language Writing, edited by Paul Kei Matsuda, Katherine O’Meara, and Sarah Snyder, Parlor Press, 2017, pp. 80-89.
  • “Identity Construction of a Second-Language Educator.” Experiences of Immigrant Professors: Challenges, Cross-Cultural Differences, and Lessons for Success, edited by Charles B. Hutchison, Routledge, 2015, pp. 213-222.
  • “Choices in Identity Building as an L2 Writing Specialist: Investment and Perseverance.” Graduate Studies in Second Language Writing, edited by Kyle McIntosh, Carolina Pelaez-Morales, and Tony Silva, Parlor Press, 2015, pp. 111-125.
  • “Writing Teachers’ Perceptions of the Presence and Needs of Second Language Writers: An Institutional Case Study.” Journal of Second Language Writing 22.1(2013): 68-86. (with Paul Kei Matsuda and Steven Accardi)

Awards and Honors

  • Alwin Thaler Research Assistantship, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Fall 2019-Spring 2020
  • Alwin Thaler Research Assistantship, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Fall 2017-Spring 2018
  • Best Faculty Mentor (In the Classroom), Graduate Students in English, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Spring 2017
  • Winner of the John C. Hodges Excellence in Teaching Award of Assistant Professors, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Fall 2016- Spring 2017