Social Theory as a Map to the World

by Martin Eiermann, Sociology Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2017 Problem: Many students might initially perceive works of social theory as obtuse relicts from another era that remain interesting to a cadre of academic experts but are of limited utility to everyone else. This sentiment is only heightened by a canon Continue Reading >>

The Interpretive Problem: A Key Concept in Teaching Writing

by Carli Cutchin, Comparative Literature Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2017 Thesis statements are the bread and butter of a good college essay – or so conventional pedagogical wisdom would say. As a Reading and Composition instructor, I would see students struggle time and again when asked to write a thesis. Continue Reading >>

Writing in a Genre

Learn how to describe to students what is distinctive about the kinds of papers you will assign in your R&C course.

Staging the Exchange: Learning to Read and Write Beyond Similarity and Opposition

by Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, Rhetoric
[A]sked to write an essay that deals with more than one primary text, [students’] tendency is … to either illustrate the ways in which the texts make equivalent arguments, or to pit one text/author against the other… I realized that I needed to do more to teach students what it means to bring two texts “into conversation.”

To Risk an Argument: Tweeting towards Independent Theses in English R1B

by Kathryn Fleishman, English
Challenged with independent critical thinking and absorbed in a network of ideas that reached out of our classroom and into their everyday lives, my students developed the willingness to risk an argument along with a strong grasp of the research process. … [S]tudents polished the opinions they had proffered as tweets and comments into solid theses for their individual research projects, transforming uncertain, visceral reactions into logical, distinctive arguments.

Making and Supporting an Argument

by Margot Szarke, French
Many students feel challenged when asked to analyze a literary or cinematic work because there is a certain amount of intellectual freedom involved in the task… How can a text or film be successfully and meaningfully interpreted in multiple ways? How can references and textual details be used to effectively build up an argument?

Confidence and the Character of Discussion: Attending to Framing Effects

by Lindsay Crawford, Philosophy
By making students more conscious of the degree to which modes of presentation shape the seemingly neutral space of discussion, the students who tended to feel intimidated by more assertive students came to realize that many of the factors that encourage and shape their feelings of intimidation are irrelevant to the quality of the positions being evaluated.

The Fourth Crusade Charges into the Classroom

by Kathryn Jasper, History
I wanted the students to realize that historical interpretation, what appears on the pages of their textbook, was written by a human being who is not omniscient. The author’s conclusions are based on primary sources and informed analysis. In addition, that author is subject to his or her own biases. Moreover, the sources themselves are biased, which the students understood when they had to formulate arguments based on…[the] text.

Teaching Critical Skills in Legal Studies

by Sonya Lebsack, Legal Studies
I have discovered, to my surprise, in the past few years, that most of my students—including those doing otherwise excellent work — struggle to read a chapter or article and state (in a paragraph or in person) what the author’s “project” is and what the stakes of that project are…As a result, I focus my efforts on teaching this underserved area of focus.