The courses I teach vary from semester to semester. I teach a range of courses, from freshman composition to graduate seminars in writing, rhetoric, and technical communication. Other courses I regularly teach include Visual Rhetoric, Digital Rhetoric, Studies in Style and Stylistics, and some others.
Below is the current version of my teaching philosophy. Because my teaching evolves, so does my teaching philosophy.
I have been teaching various writing and communication courses for about twelve years. These courses have included first-year college composition, intermediate and advanced writing and rhetoric courses, courses in technical and web communication, and others. While there are certainly differences in the ways in which I approach each course, depending on its goals, the student body, and its day-to-day progress, in my teaching I am generally guided by three broad pedagogical principles.
Learning by Doing
As every writing teacher knows, it is impossible to become better at writing without constant and intensive practice. Therefore, I rarely, if ever, lecture in my classes. Instead, I try to create an atmosphere of active reading, research, and thinking which would elicit student response. I ask students to complete projects, small and large, and we often spend class time actually working through writing assignments. I see myself as a facilitator who creates favorable conditions for learning to take place, rather than a “provider” of knowledge. I create such conditions by carefully choosing course readings, structuring writing and other assignments, and always resisting the urge to provide students with ready-made answers to problems.
Learning by Collaborating
Students need to know how to collaborate, regardless of whether they go into the workplace or into further study after graduation. Therefore, when appropriate, I try to include at least one collaborative project in my class, at all levels. Students prepare for effective collaboration through readings, discussions, and low-stakes assignments that lead to larger collaborative projects.
Learning Multiple Literacies
We live in a multi-literate, multimedia world. Our students are surrounded by texts that are not made of just words. Therefore, when appropriate to the course’s goals and objectives, I ask students to critically read both words and images. Sometimes, I ask them to compose using images and other multimedia. Academic and professional writing and communication include all those types of composing, so it is important for students to learn them.
For the past eight years, I have regularly taught writing and other courses online. In my online teaching, I am guided by the same principles that I describe above. When teaching online, I work particularly hard on instilling a sense of professional community among students. Such a sense is especially important in online learning environments because it is easy, especially for inexperienced online learners, to feel separated from the rest of the group and from the instructor. I achieve that goal by asking students to interact with one another and with me, by designing learning modules that require students to collaborate, and by providing frequent and individualized feedback on the students’ work. Because I am experienced with several platforms used for online course delivery, I can take advantage of the various features of different platforms to achieve my goals.