This teaching portfolio, like any, is a work in progress, one that I hope to tinker with for the entirety of my academic life.
Teaching Philosophy: Writing
My first day of teaching any class in the language arts involves making a statement to my students that is undoubtedly true and yet which they frequently resist: that they are already language users, and that my job is not to make them into language effective speakers, readers, and writers, but to help them to reveal the effective speakers, readers, and writers that are already within them. I further work to ensure that I always treat student desire as a priority, but never as my only priority, and to bring both the global and the local together in my teaching.
Teaching Philosophy: Linguistics
The study of linguistics involves subjects of immense complexity, across a wide variety of subfields and in a great number of contexts. Instructors must adapt to a wide variety of pedagogical tasks and learners of different ability levels. But I believe that in the pursuit of effective pedagogy in language and linguistics, across various tasks and content areas, a consistent pattern can best help students to develop mastery over these challenging subjects and techniques: demonstration, practice, iteration, repetition, and play.
Graduate Seminar in Qualitative Research Methods
Although I primarily consider myself a quantitative researcher, I maintain a deep interest in qualitative methods. In order for our research agenda to remain healthy and robust, scholars from across different methodological and paradigmatic backgrounds must seek to ask questions of academic and human interest. I believe that teaching research methods is an essential aspect of any graduate program. My syllabus for a graduate qualitative research methods course in language and literacy is below.
Introductory Composition Syllabus
While the notion that composition is synonymous with freshman writing classes is mistaken, and the world of writing and writing pedagogy far larger, it remains the case that an effective freshman composition course is of large importance to universities, students, and writing programs or departments. I have personally found teaching freshman composition to be engaging, challenging, and fun. Here, you will find a syllabus that exemplifies the aspects of freshman composition that I find most important: the process approach, regular small group or one-on-one conferencing with students, integration of digital tools into pedagogy, and exposure to research databases and university libraries.
Public Writing and Politics Syllabus and Course Justification
As part of the thesis portfolio I completed and defended towards my MA, I prepared a model syllabus for an upper level class in public writing and deliberative democracy. This class, designed to work across disciplinary lines in both writing and political philosophy, centers on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Using that text, the course is designed to explore publics, public formation, and the philosophy of Jurgen Habermas. De Tocqueville’s book works as an examination of a young public sphere and as a particular kind of public writing, making it a perfect historical and literary lens through which to understand these topics.
Below are links to the syllabus I proposed and a course proposal and justification of the kind that instructors routinely prepare for a new class. Within those documents you’ll find the pedagogical and theoretical support for such a course.
Assignment Cycle: Style and Voice
Introductory composition courses are called on by colleges and universities to teach students a broad range of skills, including some that aren’t specifically aspects of composition, such as researching and study skills. This growth in the responsibilities of introductory composition instructors has only accelerated with the rise of digital composition and the great need to instill adequate computer skills in our students. Sadly, one of the aspects of writing instruction that has been marginalized due to this mission creep is the development of style. Students get lots of opportunities to improve their writing, but in many courses, they don’t get a lot of instruction in developing their prose.
This cycle of assignments attempts to address that lack of development. Divided into three major sections, the assignment cycle (I hope) demystifies the process of developing personal style through analysis, revision, and production. This assignment cycle requires a lot of shepherding; I am confident in my ability to implement this set of exercises into my class in large part because of the weekly one-on-one conferencing that Purdue’s ICAP program requires. I’m quite pleased with this set of assignments, and I hope to incorporate similar attention to style and voice throughout my career.
Public Writing Assignment
In the spring of 2011, I was thrilled to teach my first upper-level college course, a seminar in public writing. The course was a great learning experience and great fun. As part of the course, students defined public writing in their own terms, chose a real local organization to support, drafted documents that expressed that support, and participated in podcast interviews in which they discussed those organizations and causes. Below is a link to the assignment sheet for the second major project of that class, drafting an editorial, letter to the editor, or speech in support of the chosen organization. I created the assignment and assignment sheet myself, but I drew considerable inspiration from Dr. Linda Shamoon, professor emeritus at the University of Rhode Island and my friend and mentor.
Data Journalism Course Materials
This syllabus and course materials were developed for a job application. The course reflects a few things I believe about higher education going forward. First, I think that the traditional college major is something of an anachronism that needs to evolve to survive. Oh, you’ll always be able to major in history or biology or other subject matters, and that’s fine. But I also think we’ll see the rise (or should) of majors that are oriented around methodologies– around ways of knowing. These majors would be about how we seek, evaluate, consume, summarize, and build on information, with different ways of approaching the world being treated as just as important as particular subject matters. This course, designed to be writing-intensive and for upperclassmen, fits into that worldview. Second, and on a more practical level, I think that the rise of data journalism is exciting and filled with potential, but also fraught with potential problems. We need to be training stronger consumers of news and information, particularly of data-driven arguments, because those arguments can so readily go wrong. This course takes as one of its basic presumptions an idea that is very old-fashioned and yet remains, in my mind, more relevant than ever: that the purpose of higher education is to create citizens, not just workers.