Writing Lessons: Practicing What We Preach

As educators, we often lament the quality of our students’ writing and ponder how we might support their writing development. To that end, I recently attended an interdisciplinary pedagogical conference themed around improving student writing. One of the conference’s main objectives was to remind all of us, regardless of field, that students need our help with their writing and that we cannot burden English departments with the sole responsibility for shaping it.

The research and presentations were geared toward student writing, but I started to ask myself why I couldn’t also heed some of those lessons and be my own writing coach. Why had I failed to see that so many of the tools I use as an educator could transfer neatly to my own writing? Continue reading

On Research Presentations at Conferences

Original Inside Higher Ed article can be found here.

When it comes to academic conferences, it seems most of us belong to one of two groups. The first is the research poster group, which has conversations with other scholars with the help of a visual aid. The second is the panel of papers group, where each panelist prepares a 20- to 25-minute presentation and then a discussant or moderator takes questions from the audience.

My research and my field generally belong to the latter group. Until very recently, I have ascribed to the common practice of writing an eight-page paper and simply reading it for the attendees. But that all changed a couple of months ago. Continue reading

Making the Most of the Summer

This time a year ago, I finished my degree and headed into the summer unsure of what to do with myself. It was only in hindsight that I thought critically about how to invest one’s time and energy over the summer. (Those thoughts are documented here.) This year, I’m taking a more proactive approach and creating a plan for the summer before it begins. Here, I describe the decisions I’ve made in terms of my teaching, structuring my time for research, and reading for professional enrichment. Continue reading

A Tool Kit for Teaching About Research

In a previous article, “Prepping a Course I’ve Never Taught Before,” I wrote how I decided to engage my students in a semester-long project that would expose them to research in my field. My thought process was that I want students to see that higher education is about learning to ask meaningful questions and solving the puzzles that are absent from their textbook. In this essay, I will elaborate on my approach for teaching research, and offer some tools and suggestions for doing so. Continue reading

Prepping a Course I’ve Never Taught Before

Original article available on InsideHigherEd.com

In my department, the courses that I get to teach depend heavily on registration. Some of the course offerings that fulfill general education requirements are stable from semester to semester; others that cater to students who seek a major or minor in my field fluctuate significantly.

This spring, my department chair asked me if I’d be willing to teach a specific course this fall because our department needed to offer it and there really wasn’t anyone else to teach it. The course already existed in the university course catalog, and the faculty member who has taught it has now left the university. It is outside of my area, but I’m agreeing to do it anyway. As far as a starting point goes, I don’t have much, and the course title means very little to me.

Therefore, I’m working through how to prep a course that is outside my area of expertise, that I’ve never previously taught and that, to be honest, I would never have suggested offering in the first place. I’ve decided to take on the challenge by asking myself a series of key questions. Continue reading