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
  • 2013 William C. Boyce Award for Excellence in Teaching

 

Philosophy of Teaching

I ground the content and approach of my courses in rhetorical theories: I want students to recognize the ways in which texts, artifacts, and relationships are imbued with meaning and to see the world as made, so that they leave my courses with a new way of understanding their own lived experiences. By making the rhetorics of the everyday visible to students, I hope for them also to learn how strongly literacies are already threaded throughout their lives: in text message exchanges, in their self-presentation on social media, and in how they navigate relations with others.

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. I believe this approach encourages them to look at texts differently and to become more conscious of the effects their own composing choices have on their audience(s). As well, rhetorically analyzing the construction of a text works toward my goal of convincing students that good writers are made, not born, and that improving their writing is an attainable goal.

Reading

I see a strong relation between reading and writing and so I dedicate time in all of my courses to reading instruction, framing reading as a rhetorical and material practice that should be approached thoughtfully and carefully. In addition to rhetorical considerations like reading with purpose, or discerning how an author joins a larger conversation, I also spend time reviewing and facilitating discussion on material practices like annotation.

When assigning reading, I also take care to scaffold the reading of course materials by guiding students’ reading through questions or suggested goals; this approach supports students through challenging texts. And it is especially crucial because I believe strongly in the value of the Writing about Writing approach forwarded by composition scholars Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs and therefore ask students to engage with landmark essays in writing studies—for I believe a focus around writing itself as content enables students to become more meta-critically aware of their own processes and to interrogate writing as a practice.

Multimodal and Active Classroom Strategies

Influenced by feminist pedagogies, my goal when facilitating classroom discussion is for students to drive the conversation. I often open discussion by asking them what stuck out for or surprised them: I want students and their interests to direct our discussions as much as possible and see my role as working to synthesize, reinforce, and respond to their ideas. I also see my role as complicating or even challenging their ideas by introducing alternative perspectives.

I use active learning activities in the classroom to help make abstract rhetoric or writing discussions more concrete for students. Often, I ask students to relate these class concepts to their own experiences, to identify how the writing concepts we have read about are working in a draft up on the projector, or to problem-solve in small groups (e.g., asking students to apply the design theory we just learned and consider their own needs as users when visiting websites). In other words, I ask students to use class activities and discussions to collaborate and begin to bridge theoretical ideas and practice.

Additionally, I am influenced by scholars like Patricia Dunn who argue that learning is best served when engaged through multiple modes, and so I present opportunities for students to learn not only by writing, but by seeing, hearing, drawing, discussing, or moving. I have employed visual methods, from tree and outline exercises to asking students to draw a six-panel cartoon to represent the structure of their papers. I have run “verbal workshops” where students work up to a research proposal by explaining and discuss paper topics with their peers, and I incorporate analyses of visual texts into class discussions.

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.

Conclusion

As a teacher and scholar, I inform and continually work to improve my practices through research, reflection, and assessment. It is my goal that students become more analytical, observational beings who learn to see the world—and its texts, practices, and relations—as made. In other words, I hope the students I teach will carry what they learn in my courses into not only other courses and future careers, but also their everyday lives.

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