Pedagogical Foci & Teaching Experience
My teaching is characterized by my intense commitment to developing a sense of community and a practice of collaboration. I view the teaching of writing as an activist practice where students are invited to ask questions, build community, and make the changes they wish to see in the world through the act of writing. Because of this orientation, my pedagogical approaches are built around two, often overlapping, areas of emphasis: 1) discourse communities and participatory projects; and 2) community-based partnerships and public engagement. In my technical writing and composition courses, I design opportunities for my students to collaborate with nonprofits where they participate in writing ecologies that engage members of the local community from start to finish. As a result, their work is co-constructed with community partners through an iterative, agile development process and cross-cultural communication practices that yield mutually beneficial final deliverables. By creating a culture of long-term, community-based partnerships, my service-forward courses broaden the reach of the university, invite community members into the classroom, and give students the opportunity to see technical communication and rhetoric in action.
social advocacy + TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION
ENGL 430WI: Advanced Technical Writing is an advanced, community-engaged technical writing course in the University of Missouri-Kansas City English Department where undergraduate and graduate students worked directly with Code for KC, a Kansas City nonprofit focused on designing technologies to solve civic problems. Students used technical communication skills such as prototyping, document design, and UX testing within face-to-face and online spaces to solve technical communication problems. In addition to their final deliverables for our community partner, the students also presented their field research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium where one student won the KC Works award for her impact on the Kansas City community. Another student completed her capstone project in the English Department by co-authoring an Intercom article with me about our partnership with Code for KC. To read more about this course, read my Digital Rhetoric Collaborative blog post on community-based technical communication as social advocacy.
PROJECT-BASED LEARNING + DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
EN 3750: Development of the English Language is an advanced linguistics course at Rockhurst University where undergraduate and graduate students in English and education engaged in project-based learning to investigate research questions about a particular discourse community. They designed a field study, conducted qualitative and quantitive research, and reported on the results in a presentation and a research paper. Because of their interest in community and activist rhetorics, I invited two of my students, Erin Backhaus and Abby Breyer, to co-author an article with me on the stories within the Women’s March on Washington Archive in 4C4E’s Spark. In addition to writing alongside my students, I also advised an undergraduate student’s honors project focused on the study of discourse communities in Rockhurst’s undergraduate writing center and mentored her during her subsequent thesis research on the impact of community engaged writing center practices on disenfranchised populations.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT + PUBLIC WRITING
DISC 300: Civic and Community Engagement is an advanced writing and speech course at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where undergraduate students defined a community problem and designed a solution to solve it. A significant portion of the students’ research was primary, enabling them to make their own connections within Kansas City community. At the end of the course, students produced one piece of public writing that was gifted back to their chosen community (e.g. pamphlet, event poster, demo video with script). Later versions of the course were taught in collaboration with Code for KC where students participated in the research and development phases of CommunityKC, a networking tool designed to connect local civic groups to volunteers and funders. CommunityKC provided a unique space for my discourse students to negotiate the content creation process for a live, fully-functional website, and conduct field research that would impact members of the Kansas City community.