Throughout my career, I have focused my research on feminist pedagogies and digital literacies in the composition classroom. I am interested in the ways students can be empowered through writing and polish their critical thinking skills in the composition classroom.
My previous scholarship centered heavily on multimodality and web 2.0 in the classroom. In 2012, I presented “Essays to E-zines: Teaching Tech Savvy Composition” with a panel of colleagues and graduate students at the 2012 NIU English Articulation conference. We discussed the merits of teaching students in our English Composition courses to write for the web and the skills they gained as they completed a webzine as their final class project. Also in 2012, I presented “Bringing the Known into the New: Using Google Tools in the Comp II Classroom” with a colleague at the Midwest Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association conference. In this presentation, we argued that using Google Books and Google Scholar as tools to scaffold research skills was more beneficial than avoiding Google entirely as many scholars and librarians are wont to do. Using Google tools before moving to the library databases enables students to choose (and spell correctly) appropriate key words that will prove more useful in the library databases than if the students had started research with the intimidating (and rigid) databases. Students in my classes were less likely to get discouraged and come to me saying that they “couldn’t find anything” because the preparation in Google Tools gave them a more solid starting point.
My presentation at the 2013 NIU English Articulation conference was titled “Web 2.0 and Immersive Learning: Underprepared Students Closing the Participation Gap.” In this presentation, I focused on the immersive learning component in my English Composition II course and how it tied in with the web 2.0 components of the course to better prepare students for the job market. Students in my course have brought speakers to campus, written grant proposals, gotten billboard donations, collected over $2,500 worth of goods (plus $160 cash), participated radio spots + speaking gigs, given anti-bullying workshops, and created well-thought-out brochures. The immersive learning was supplemented with online portfolio work and new media tools to help students get their messages out to a real world audience.
More recently, I presented at the 2013 CCCC in Las Vegas. I was on a panel titled “Multimodal Composition and Web 2.0: Equipping Under-Prepared Students with Real World Skills.” With several colleagues and graduate students from Purdue University Calumet, I presented a fully paperless multimodal course, focused on technological, collaborative, and professional skills with the goal of equipping under-prepared students for the 21st Century workplace. The goal of the course was to seek to close what Jenkins (2006) calls the “participation gap,” and to help bridge what has been most commonly referred to in the literature as the “digital divide.” We discussed the rationale behind multimodal Composition II at Purdue University Calumet, gave examples of student work in varied levels of competency, explained how to avoid common pitfalls, and detailed how the experiential learning from this project prepared students with the technological, collaborative, and professional skills needed to succeed in the job world, as they honed their writing and research skills. The panel also delineated best practices for teaching hands-on multimodal courses to ensure that students gain the real-world skills that the course intended to impart.
My most recent work, “Queer Pedagogy and Transformative Learning in the Composition Classroom,” was part of a poster presentation at the Ball State University’s Writing Program’s “First Friday” series. My presentation focused on how queer pedagogies transform learning for composition students and effect a change in perspective that students can apply throughout their lives, not just in the classroom.
My future scholarship includes a presentation at the 2014 National American Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association conference in Chicago. I will focus on the use of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in the first-year composition classroom, arguing that transformative learning is more readily facilitated through the use of Fun Home because of its graphic novel format. This allows the text to deal with sensitive issues like gender expression and sexuality in nonthreatening format. Because they are more engaged in the learning, students will develop a deeper understanding of gender and sexuality and experience a shift in their perceptions of gender and sexual stereotypes.
I plan to continue researching queer pedagogy in the first-year composition classroom; in particular, I’m interested in the ways multimodality and sexual identity intersect on the web. In transformative courses, students write texts about their lives and worldviews—many students dealt with thorny, personal issues and explain how their worldviews shift as a result of course readings and class discussion, and I’ve become concerned with the use of digital tools in the classroom (namely, Google Drive and Google Sites) because students publishing this work on the web opens their writing up to the public. I’m interested in ways to negotiate this problem.