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.

 
Erica (center) with 6 of her ENGL 430WI students who presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at UMKC in April 2019.

Erica (center) with 6 of her ENGL 430WI students who presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at UMKC in April 2019.

“She went out of her way to tailor the material to benefit me personally. She was a fantastic professor.”
— ENGL 430WI, Spring 2019

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.

“Professor Stone was such an encouraging professor. She was always willing to help and chat, whether it was about the course or our career goals or stress. The thing I liked about her the most is that I felt as though she really wanted to help us succeed. If I told her I wanted to have more publications, she’d point me in the direction of potential options or possible fellowships. She is very well-versed in technical writing, and her suggestions for improvement were really helpful.”
— ENGL 430WI, Spring 2019
 
Two pink balloons at the 2017 Women’s March in Kansas City, MO, the scene of our 2019 project-based article from EN 3750

Two pink balloons at the 2017 Women’s March in Kansas City, MO, the scene of our 2019 project-based article from EN 3750

“Erica is compassionate, an active listener, and a very intelligent instructor. She does a great job of taking a complicated subject and translating it to a group of students who have never even heard of the topic.”
— EN 3750, Spring 2019

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.

“Erica is absolutely amazing at bringing in students who are hesitant about literature or English and making projects that allow everyone (majors and non-majors alike) to use their strengths and make it applicable to their studies. I have never met a teacher who wants to work with students and help them and really form a good relationship. She also has this awesome skill of being able to name a ton of authors/books/articles at the drop of a hat based on whatever topic you are interested in. By the end of the semester, she knew each student individually, which I think is key to being a good teacher. She also is totally willing to change things quickly and improvise if something is not working (whereas other professors often stick to a plan even when it is clear no students are interested).
— EN 3750, Spring 2019
 
A partly cloudy day in downtown Kansas City, MO, the city where nearly all of the civic engagement for DISC 300 took place.

A partly cloudy day in downtown Kansas City, MO, the city where nearly all of the civic engagement for DISC 300 took place.

“She’s incredibly reasonable and easy to work with and has a great way of discussing sensitive topics with awareness.”
— DISC 300, Fall 2017
“I was very comfortable in the class and the environment encouraged learning and Professor Stone was very open to what anybody in the class thought or had to say.”
— DISC 300, Spring 2018
“She definitely flipped my expectation of the course on its head. I was not excited about this class, but she made every effort to make it engaging and relevant to our future goals.”
— DISC 300, Spring, 2017

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.

“I enjoyed this course mainly because of my professor. It is evident that Professor Stone is passionate about what she does and always tries to make herself as accessible as possible for her students to succeed. The difference between her and other instructors is her cognizance to not only desire to see her students do well, but actually does her best to set them up well, and it makes all the difference. In addition, it made the course worthwhile through her encouragement to her students to write and speak about things that they were passionate or interested in to
make the assignments more enjoyable.”
— DISC 300, Fall 2018
“Erica is a great professor. She is flexible and aware of our outside activities and tries to base the course work and dates off of what is best for her students. You can tell that she cares a lot about her students.”
— DISC 300, Fall 2017
“I had the opportunity to go out to my community and see the problems Kansas City faces and to contribute to a solution in my own neighborhood. I enjoyed the class very much.”
— DISC 300, Spring 2018
“This course was extremely interesting and efficient. It really increased my interest in the community and ways I can help get involved to better the community. I also believe this course helped my writing and speech skills a lot. I really enjoyed the way the speeches were set up in a way that really took away almost all of my speech anxiety. Overall, I loved this course and would recommend Erica Stone’s class to anyone.”
— DISC 300, Fall 2017