Teaching

Courses Taught

At the University of Cincinnati, I have taught the following courses:

  • Introduction to English Composition (ENGL 1000)
  • First-Year Composition (ENGL 101/102/1001)
  • Digital Composing (ENGL 2000)
  • Topics in Rhetoric: “Why Voice Matters” (ENGL 2005)
  • *Intermediate Composition (ENGL 289/2089)
  • Peer Tutoring Pedagogy (ENGL 3005)
  • *Writing for Business (ENGL 4091)
  • *Technical and Scientific Writing (ENGL 4092)
  • *Advanced Topics: Digital Composing (ENGL 6000)

* Have taught online or hybrid sections

 

Honors and Awards

  • receiving excellence award

    Receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award, with Assoc. Dean Margaret Hansen, Provost Beverly Davenport, and Dean Robert Zierolf.

    Nominated (by three students), 2016 William C. Boyce Award for Excellence in Teaching

  • 2014 Arts & Sciences College Recipient, Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 2012 William C. Boyce Award for Excellence in Teaching

 

Philosophy of Teaching

As a mode of inquiry and learning, writing carries powerful potential for developing the critical, analytical thinking that I see as the hallmark of a liberal arts education. As a writing and rhetoric instructor I work to cultivate this critical and analytical know-how in students by teaching them to approach writing as both a theoretical and a practical enterprise.

In other words, influenced by Ann Berthoff’s characterization of the composing process, I teach composing as a method, a way of “thinking about our thinking,” a way of seeing, a doing. By teaching a method of writing I teach students to see writing as a flexible, strategic, and situated praxis-one they can adapt to different rhetorical situations, audiences, and material contexts.

In what follows I will illustrate how my pedagogical philosophy is centered around encouraging students to become reflective, adaptable, and flexible writers: how flexibility connects to multimodal composing and how flexibility allows me to teach writing in an interdisciplinary way that speaks to students’ majors and interests.

Flexibility and Multimodal Composing

By framing composing as a reflective praxis, students in my courses are equipped to compose thoughtfully and meaningfully in other modes and materialities. I bring multimodal projects, as well as a range of “texts” for students to respond to (including video, audio, and traditional print), into most all of my courses for two reasons. The first is because facility with nonprint and digital modes is increasingly expected, and necessary, to participate in twenty-first century life. The second is because I am influenced by arguments by Patricia Dunn, who argues that multimodal pedagogies benefit both students with intellectual strengths in nonprint creative areas as well as those whose strengths lie in language-based activity (who are thereby productively challenged by composing in unfamiliar situations and materials).

When I set up multimodal assignments I work to build a studio ethic with a “DIY” attitude by hands-on, exploratory, and collaborative learning. The primary expectations I communicate for multimodal assignments are that they are carefully considered, rhetorically motivated, and audience driven (which I assess based on both the projects themselves and accompanying textual rationales). Students are not expected to produce professional-quality material but instead to make a good-faith effort to create a meaningful text through a reflective process.

Flexibility and Varied Disciplines

Writing scholarship supports the principle that writing is a situated practice learned incrementally over time and that it is therefore most effectively learned in authentic and varied contexts. Given this principle, I create assignments that serve clear purposes and connect to their real-world experiences-allowing them to see how the theoretical principles we learn about apply to their own lives.

For instance, in the sophomore-level composition course I have taught for seven years, I have coached students in primary research methods so that they can apply theoretical concepts of literacy, discourse, and genre to a site of their choosing. Consequently, I have students study topics as diverse as the ways lifeguards interpret, and put into practice, training manuals; the effectiveness of the study habits of classmates in an anatomy and physiology course; or how the mission statement of the Women in Learning and Leadership student organization shaped the tenor of discussions among members and organizational documents. I find that asking students to conduct such primary research increases student buy-in for this required course, which students often enter believing will not serve their major or future career path. It also shows them how writing and rhetorical awareness will be useful to them in future situations (both academic and post-college) and develops their confidence in their writing, research, and analysis abilities.

Supporting Skilled Reviewers

I believe that with the right support and scaffolding, students can be accomplished, thoughtful readers of each others’ work, and strongly believe that they should be given ample opportunity to do so in a writing class. And so regular discussions on student writing-in-progress are at the center of the courses that I teach, which hone students’ critical reading skills and develop a stronger awareness of their own writing.

I use a variety of workshop and peer review styles: some days students might read a draft aloud to a small group and then share responses, while other days they might read a peer’s draft silently and then write an analytical “says/does” outline alongside the author. Other days we run full-class workshops, where a student draft is projected onto the screen for class discussion, or where students come prepared having read a short excerpt of a peer’s draft.

With the right guidance and support, I find that students use whole-class workshops and small-group peer reviews very productively, saying smart things about each other’s writing and learning more about their own writing (and how they might improve it) in the process. Our guiding ethic in these workshops is honest but generous responses to the draft that identify, “What’s working well, or effectively? What can this writer do to improve this writing for the next draft?” To support this challenging and vulnerable work of response, I emphasize description as a “way in” to the text; we start with simply describing what they see the writer doing in the text, before moving to discussions about how effective those moves are. As well, I remind students that every single one of them holds an important and useful perspective as a reader and encourage them to frame their responses through their experiences as readers of the text.

Flexibility and Rhetorics of the Everyday

Encouraging students to apply concepts like literacy, discourse, and genre to a community they know is just one example of how I ground the content and approach of my courses in composition and rhetorical theories. My goal is for students to see that the unfamiliar ideas and abstract theories we explore in class that explain how meaning is made apply to their lived experiences, imbuing texts, artifacts, and relationships with meaning.

Emphasizing the rhetorical nature of texts and relationships also demystifies the work of good writing: throughout the term we constantly ask how texts are composed, whether we are working with student writing in workshop or discussing a scholarly essay. This habit of approaching texts through a rhetorical analysis lens encourages students to become more conscious of the effects their own composing choices have on their audience(s) and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrates that good writers are made, not born-and that improving their writing is an attainable goal.

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