Shelley Reid.


English 615: Composition Instruction -- Pedagogy & Theory

Spring 2005

Course Goals 

English 615 is designed to provide immediate help and a foundation for continuing development as a teacher of writing.  The course strives to

    • Support you as you develop a general philosophy about teaching and prepare specific materials for use when you teach English 101 or a similar writing course
    • Provide enough information, via quantitative and qualitative research articles, and via your participation as a student and leader in the seminar, to help you become more aware of a variety of options and reasonings for writing and teaching writing well
    • Allow opportunities to practice, question, adapt, challenge, and compare the writing pedagogy strategies you read about, see, and imagine, particularly in ways that let you connect "theory" to "practice" in a wide range of situations
    • Support collegial, reflective conversations about teaching as a practical, theoretical, scholarly, creative, and collaborative exercise -- and thus encourage the questioning and reflection that fosters successful, ever-improving teaching
    • Encourage you to value composition teaching and teaching in general as a scholarly and creative enterprise equal in complexity of thought and action to any other that you undertake in graduate school or your professional life, and thus one worth your continuing interest and efforts

Four Further Considerations:

  • • This is a true introductory class, new-to-you in topic and in pedagogy:  for many of you, it's the first "intro" you've taken in several years, and perhaps the last you will take for many years to come.  Please try to be patient with the learning curve, with your own frustrations and struggles, with the small steps we sometimes take when you are more used to leaping gracefully about.
    • This will be a writing-intensive and writing-workshop-intensive class, which should help you connect with your (future) students & peers, encourage you to reflect on the whys and hows of teaching & writing, help you connect your "practice" with your "preaching" (or change one to fit the other), and allow you room to develop your own theories and practices as a writer and writing-teacher.
    • We will aim not for "right answers" but for increasing pedagogical flexibility.  We will attempt to keep a balance between finding solutions and raising additional questions, objections, and confusions; between class assignment expectations and individual investigations; and between giving you (additional) "roots" for your preferred pedagogical approaches and helping you gather a range of optional approaches, theories, or assignments.
    • In contrast to the "orientations" of the rest of the composition program, then, this class is intended to be dis-orienting, to call "obvious" beliefs and practices into question, to inspire reflection and reconsideration, and to challenge you to go beyond your comfort zones -- as writing and teaching so often do.


    Course Tools & Expectations

    The Books & Readings

    Bean, Engaging Ideas (1996)
    Corbett, Myers, & Tate, The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook, 4th Ed. (2000)
    Straub, A Sourcebook for Responding to Student Writing (1999)
    Also, occasional readings accessible via university library databases such as JSTOR or posted on WebCT (

    The Assignments and Grade Values, Very Briefly:

  • "Weekly" Assignments (10):  30%
  • Community participation: E-postings,class activity bank, and in class work: 25%
  • Collaborative Inquiry Project: 10%
  • Final Teaching/Writing Portfolio:  35%

See Assignments Page
Other Policies of Note:
Attendance is expected.  A strict late work policy is inappropriate, given our emphasis on drafting and revising through the semester, though I expect that you'll keep up with both the reading and the writing.  The one exception concerns the Collaborative Inquiry Project:  although I don't expect problems, if your procrastination adversely affects your team members' work, you will earn a grade-deduction on your individual project grade.
Although it goes without saying, sometimes saying it is important, especially for a workshop class:  you are expected to maintain an attitude of professional respect and courtesy -- if not always agreement -- toward other class members. 
Students with disabilities: Students with documented disabilities are legally entitled to certain accommodations in the classroom.  Students requesting such accommodation must present faculty with a contact sheet from the Disability Resource Center (703-993-2474).  I will be happy to work with students and the DRC to arrange fair access and support.




Last updated August 2005.Email Shelley Reid