I have spent most of my time this summer teaching online courses, and another portion of my summer has been devoted to wedding planning. Unfortunately, that means I have not been the scholar I should have been this summer. I did, however, get a few things accomplished.
That has been both a wonderful and slightly frustrating experience. I designed a 4-week online version of the Hope College’s 2-credit English 214: Workplace Writing. This class is typically a lot of fun for me to teach, and I know that there is a need at the college to have more sections of the course available, which is why I decided to design and teach an online version. I will likely teach this class again next summer, if the school approves my work as such. There are things I will do differently next summer: for example, I may need to find a better way to distribute the peer review. I’ll be researching how others run similar online peer reviews in time-short classrooms in the fall and spring.
Aside from teaching, I have been reading back issues of Writing Lab Newsletter to catch up. I also have two issues of College Composition and Communication and two issues of Writing Center Journal to read. I likely won’t get through them by the start of the term, but I want to read them before Christmas break.
WLN has not been as heartening as I would have hoped. I enjoyed reading through the journal, but there was one article which particularly aggravated me. He felt much more like a sales pitch than a researched article about a new pilot program. The article actually encouraged readers to contact the authors to get access to the program and start using it. While this can be very beneficial to the community, I felt put-off while reading: it sounded a bit like an infomercial for writing centers. Another article I’m thinking of using as a model for my FYC students–the article is a series of vignettes describing instances of humor in the center. Then, there is a central argument based on these vignettes. This is a good model for first-year and novice writing students because it shows how to make conclusions based on a collected body of evidence. However, it did not sound like a rigorous study. Why these vignettes? Are they statistically significant? How did personality of the consultant/client come into play during these instances? There are too many questions left unanswered. Finally, one book review made me uncomfortable as well. This review argued against the book author’s point, saying that her argument was wrong while clearly ignoring the parts of the reviewer’s own argument that were invalid. For example, the reviewer commented on five or six recently established writing centers that don’t fit the mold the author refers to. Of course they don’t fit the mold! These centers were founded and designed after the author’s first article on the topic was published! Some people in the community have clearly learned from and benefited from the original article and its ensuing conversation. That article literally changed the way I thought about my work in writing centers, and I’m genuinely offended that the reviewer isn’t aware of the history involved in the argument and how it has played out in the community.
I did find a helpful review of a book about using writing centers as faculty writing centers, which I’m excited to read! I have two weeks from now until I enter Hope College’s Faculty Writing Camp, sponsored by the Klooster Center for Writing Excellence (our writing center). I hope to get some of my scholarly work done during this week that I’ve had on the back burner. At the very least, I hope to finish one article. I have three more under way (one of which is a revise-and-resubmit that I’ve been pushing off because I’m just not sure what to do with it).
This past week, my collaborator, Dr. Caswell, and I did finish a full draft of our chapter manuscript on assigning comic books in the first-year-writing program. We had a very productive 3.5 hours of work, and we had a lot of fun, too! I love working with her, and I’m glad that we can work together the way we do. Collaboration in rhetoric and composition is one of the most exciting parts of the field, in my opinion. Very few other fields in the humanities collaborate the way that we do.