WR122, S16

This course focuses on examining, researching, and writing about “Minority Rhetorics.” This section of the class will include both Honors and regular WR122 students in the same cohort. Each student in the course will choose an event that occurred from 1950s-present in the U.S. that they are interested in and that they feel is/will be significant to U.S. history.

Students will engage in an inquiry-based research process, crafting questions that focus specifically on their event to guide their research. Their goal will be to carefully examine the language used in their sources to determine which sources were written in dominant/mainstream rhetoric and which sources uses a minority rhetoric framework. They will then need to craft an argument that asserts how they feel minority rhetoric(s) were used by individuals and groups documenting the event they chose to focus on to frame the event in ways that differ from the way the event was presented in mainstream/dominant rhetoric. This argumentative piece will be written toward the end of the term, with a variety of shorter assignments along the way to scaffold the writing and research process for this larger assignment.

Students will also build an ePortfolio in this class. This ePortfolio will house their work for this course and be set up in such a way as to encourage them to keep building their ePortfolios beyond this course.

Honors students will have additional responsibilities/assignments in the course including being the leads for small group discussions, helping their classmates gain a deeper understanding of the texts at the heart of the course, and presenting their research to the entire class in an end-of-term in-class presentation.

I am most excited this term about my revised approach to ePortfolio pedagogy. While I’ve been using ePortfolios in some of my Writing classes over the past three years, it was only in Fall 2015 (when the newly revised version of this course first rolled out) that I began using ePortfolios in all of my Writing classes. I made this change because it became clear to me that ePortfolios and ePortfolio pedagogy are really, for my teaching style/courses, best practice. Students not only tend to grow more as writers and thinkers when working in ePortfolios than they do in more traditional versions of Writing classes, but they are also able to take more ownership over their work, easily share it with others, and develop a strong sense of metacognition.

I made three significant pedagogical revisions for this term in order to strengthen my ePortfolio pedagogy. The first change was in adding excerpts from Writer/Designer to the required reading list to help students more deeply understand the art of composing in online/multimodal spaces. The second revision I made was to shift all assignments in the course, except the Annotated Bibliography, to online genres so that students could really embrace and utilized the WordPress platform to strengthen their ability to write, especially in online spaces. The third revision was to make  more space at the start of the term to have in-class discussions about why ePortfolios are being used and how these ePortfolios can be beneficial to students not only in my class but in their other academic and professional pursuits.

I feel as though the most successful revision I made to this course was in shifting most of the assignments to online genres. I could see significant improvement by the end of the term is some key areas of student learning, including: a better understanding of how online writing spaces work; increased understanding of the importance of layout/design/visual elements in online writing genres; an increased ability to effectively write in a variety of online genres and an increased willingness to move beyond text-only composition, which is what many students entered a college level writing course expecting to be asked to produce. 

I still feel like the course moves a bit too quickly and would like to find ways in streamline assignments more before teaching the course again. All assignments are essential to building the scaffolding necessary for students to complete the final project, but I need to rethink the overall scheduling of assignments within the course so that students are left with more time to work on their Online Essays and ePortfolios at the end of the term.