English 747: Theory and Practice of Teaching College Englishkelly Ritter

English 747: Theory and Practice of Teaching College Englishkelly Ritter

English 747: Theory and Practice of Teaching College EnglishKelly Ritter


W 3:30-6:203119 MHRA

3209 MHRAOffice Hrs: T 10:30-12:30

W 2:00-3:00, or by appt.

Course Overview:

This course is designed for new teaching assistants in the English department’s first-year composition program at UNCG. To this end, our time in class will be devoted to learning more about the field of composition studies in order to develop and improve our pedagogical strategies in the first-year classroom. Students will read current and seminal past scholarship on the teaching of first-year writing; the history and practices of first-year writing as a sub-discipline within English studies; and the theoretical considerations which writing teachers bring to their classrooms when developing their pedagogies. Students will also complete a number of writing assignments designed to improve their knowledge of the teaching of writing and further develop their own professional teaching portfolios.

Course Pre-Requisite:

Graduate Standing and Teaching Assistantship in the UNCG English Department.

Course Requirements (and % of Final Course Grade):

•Four critical response papers of 3-4 pages each, on course readings (40%)

These critical response papers are designed to “jump-start” our weekly discussions, as well as help class members to better internalize and conceptualize the readings in the context of our own teaching (and writing). Responses should be posted on our course web site by 11:00 AM on the day of class/due date and also submitted to me in paper form at class time.

•One 4-5 page book review of a current composition reader, rhetoric, or handbook (10%)

The book review has two aims: (1) to allow class members to practice writing a quasi-professional document (as book reviews are one way in which graduate students “break into” the publishing circuit, via publication in field journals) and (2) to begin the process of text selection for Spring 2009. The review therefore should be of a book that the class member will potentially USE in his or her Spring 2009 English 101 course.

•A final teaching portfolio based on your ENG 101 class at UNCG for Fall 2009 (40%)

The portfolio, which serves as a professional document of one’s teaching, will include the following:

- A 1-2-page teaching philosophy

- A 4-6 page essay that articulates the connections between our 747 course readings and your approach to and methods of teaching ENG 101 at UNCG

- A “meta-commentary” essay of 4-5 pages on two writing assignments that you assigned in ENG 101, with a reflection on your goals in designing and requiring these assignments; how successful those assignments were; and what you would change in the future (the two assignments themselves should also be included in the portfolio)

•Regular participation in discussions on our course web site (10%)

As this is a graduate seminar, regular participation both in class and out of class, on the course web site, is expected. Students will also regularly be asked to lead discussion individually or within small groups.

Course Texts:

Berlin, James. Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900-1985. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University P, 1987.

Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University. Pittsburgh: Pitt UP, 2002.

Howard, Rebecca Moore and Amy Robillard, Eds. Pluralizing Plagiarism: Identities, Contexts, Pedagogies. Portsmouth, NH: Boyton/Cook, 2008.

Hunt, Douglas. Misunderstanding the Assignment: Teenage Students, College Writing, and the Pains of Growth. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2002.

Miller, Susan. The Norton Book of Composition Studies. New York: Norton, 2009.

Zak, Francis and Christopher Weaver. The Theory and Practice of Grading Writing. Albany: SUNY UP, 1998.


As this course meets only once weekly, it is critical that students attend all meetings. If an emergency arises and a class member cannot attend class, he or she should contact either myself or Alan Benson and arrange to make up the work. Students who miss more than two class sessions will not receive credit for the course. Students who have protracted illnesses or other chronic health situations which may affect their attendance should speak with me.

Late Work:

Please turn in all work on the day that it is due. I will accept late work, but it will be accepted with a grade penalty, in fairness to other students. Again, if the late work is a result of an extended illness or other emergency, please speak with myself or Alan Benson.

Course Outline (Subject to Change)

Week 1August 26Introductions and Overview

Unit One: Histories of Composition and Composing

Week 2September 2Reading (from Norton Book of Composition Studies):

Parker, “Where Do English Departments Come From?”

Channing, “A Writer’s Preparation”

Douglas, “Rhetoric for the Meritocracy”

Brereton, “From The Origins of Composition Studies”

Connors, “From Composition-Rhetoric”

Critical Response #1 Due

Week 3September 9Reading: Berlin, Rhetoric and Reality

Week 4September 16Reading: Crowley, Composition in the University

Critical Response #2 Due

Unit Two: Who/What/How is the First-Year Composition Student?

Week 5September 23Reading: Hunt, Misunderstanding the Assignment

Week 6September 30Reading (from Norton Book of Composition Studies):

Harris, “The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing”

Royster, “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own”

Shaughnessy, “Introduction to Errors and Expectations”

Critical Response #3 Due

Week 7October 7Reading (from Norton Book of Composition Studies):

Bartholomae, “Inventing the University”

Rose, “The Language of Exclusion”

Brooke, “Underlife and Writing Instruction”

Unit Three: Theories of Writing/Assessment in First-Year Composition

Week 8October 14Theoretical Perspectives on Writing Instruction

Reading (from Norton Book of Composition Studies):

Kitzhaber, “The Present State of Freshman Composition”

Fulkerson, “Four Philosophies of Composition”

Foster, “What are We Talking about When We Talk About


Critical Response #4 Due

Week 9October 21Plagiarism and Authorship

Reading: Robillard and Howard, Pluralizing Plagiarism

Week 10October 28Book Review Draft Due; Peer Workshops

Week 11November 4Assessing Writing

Reading: (from Norton Book of Composition Studies):

Yancey: “Looking Back as We Look Forward”

Sommers, “Revision Strategies”

Williams, “The Phenomenology of Error”

Braddock, “The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences”

Book Review Revision Due

Week 12November 11Grading and Assessment

Reading: Zak and Weaver, Theory and Practice of Grading Writing (selections TBA)

Unit Four: Looking Ahead to the Future: Your Teaching in the English Department

Week 13November 18What happens after English 101?

Reading: English 102 objectives and literature course descriptions from English department syllabus handbook.

Discussion: SI and WI markers, and 100-level literature courses

Guest Speaker: Jennifer Keith, Associate Head of Department


Week 15December 2Portfolio Draft Workshop (on Teaching Statements);

Course Evaluations

Final Portfolios DUE Monday, December 7th by 12 Noon. Portfolios will be returned to your departmental TA mailboxes in January 2009 with comments.