My Writing Pedagogy

Writing is a skill, not a body of facts like state capitals.  Skills are learned and developed differently than facts; you cram for an exam, but not for a performance of skill. Here’s how I teach the skill of writing.  First of all, I believe that writing requires practice–regular, repeated, reflected practice. These opportunities to practice are some of the core learning moments of the course– instruction through practice.  Secondly, I believe that practice becomes skills through critical revision and alteration. Writing requires deliberation and measurement—by you—in order to increase the skill of “writing well.” I’ll require you to meet with me to talk about writing as a strategic act, and urge you to develop the habit of looking at how and why we write as we do.  Talking about writing– we call it meta-cognition– is critical. I’ll invite you to speak with me about your thoughts and ideas and writing projects. Choosing how, when, and why to revise and alter one’s thoughts and words is an important component of writing well. And thirdly, I believe writing is an intimate and personal act—it connects thought to the world beyond us.  Learning to write is learning about oneself. Because of writing’s individual and personal nature, much of this course’s writing instruction will occur in 1:1 or small group conferences with me and your peers. Miss your conference and you’ll miss much of the learning I have to provide.

General Education Goals

This course meets the Academic Foundations in English Composition component of the WCU General Education curriculum. This course meets four General Education goals that will help students learn to: (a) think critically and analytically; (b) respond thoughtfully to diversity; (c) communicate effectively; (d) demonstrate the sensibilities, understandings, and perspectives of a person educated in the liberal arts tradition.


Regular attendance is encouraged and required for this course; it’s not possible to do well in a course that you do not attend. Students who use non-attendance to disengage with the work of the course will be invited to withdraw. However, there is no formal penalty for missing any class. You are invited to manage your attendance as you see fit; I will not provide private tutorials in lieu of class attendance.  Students who miss tend to participate at a lower frequency and a lower quality than students who attend.  In my experience, students who miss classes gradually lose touch with the pace of the course and inevitably fail for the term. In order to ensure your success, I recommend attending each of the class meetings. Participation is qualitatively and quantitatively assessed, and participation requires presence.


This class uses its class time to develop proficiency with the ideas and materials of the semester, to discuss and hone our critical thinking skills, and to engage in the collaborative exchange of information. The production of writing, the goal of the course (in method and in content), does not lend itself to lecture. Instead of only using class lecture or discussion to accomplish writing instruction, we’ll also use 1:1 and small group conferences to help develop your skill in writing. Each student will be required to meet in writing conferences no fewer than 4 times across the semester, and I’ll supply you with ample office hours and out-of-class time to select from.  Our weeks will follow a predictable pattern: new readings over the weekend, explained and discussed in mini-lectures and discussions on Mondays and Wednesdays, with Fridays devoted to writing workshops, conferences with me, and peer revision. Our course uses 1:1 and small group conferences on writing. Use our software tool, http://meetme.so/rcream, to book these conferences. Questions? email me!

Required Texts and Materials

This course requires the important materials of your mental engagement, time for thoughtful reflection, and attention to the details of careful reading, and critical thinking. It requires presence, as an investment in learning, and asks you to be curious, engaged, and self-reflective about your work in the class. The course requires you to be patient with others, responsive to others, and responsible to others and yourself. You will find that a sense of humor, if not essential, is quite helpful.

This course uses Google drive and various web components as learning tools and a participatory social media platform. It also uses D2L to return grades to students. You’ll need a google account, so feel free to use an existing Google account or make a new one for use this semester; you must participate in the Google group in order to succeed in this class. You should bring any required texts to each class meeting—whether that means a digital or printed copy, an e-reader, or your laptop. Routine internet participation is required for this course.


It is the responsibility of each student to adhere to the university’s standards for academic integrity. Violations of academic integrity include any act that violates the rights of another student in academic work, that involves misrepresentation of your own work, or that disrupts the instruction of the course. Other violations include (but are not limited to): cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing, which means copying any part of another’s work and/or using ideas of another and presenting them as one’s own without giving proper credit to the source; selling, purchasing, or exchanging of term papers; falsifying of information; and using your own work from one class to fulfill the assignment for another class without significant modification. Proof of academic misconduct can result in the automatic failure and removal from this course. For questions regarding Academic Integrity, the No-Grade Policy, Sexual Harassment, or the Student Code of Conduct, students are encouraged to refer to the Department Undergraduate Handbook, the Undergraduate Catalog, the Ram’s Eye View, and the University website at www.wcupa.edu. 


If you have a disability that requires accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please present your letter of accommodations and meet with me as soon as possible so that I can support your success in an informed manner. Accommodations cannot be granted retroactively. If you would like to know more about West Chester University’s Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD), please visit them at 223 Lawrence Center. Their phone number is 610-436-2564, their fax number is 610-436-2600, their email address is ossd@wcupa.edu, and their website is at www.wcupa.edu/ussss/ossd. In an effort to assist students who either receive or may believe they are entitled to receive accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the University has appointed a student advocate to be a contact for students who have questions regarding the provision of their accommodations or their right to accommodations. The advocate will assist any student who may have questions regarding these rights. The Director for Equity and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator has been designated in this role. Students who need assistance with their rights to accommodations should contact them at 610-436-2433.


Students are advised to carefully read and comply with the excused absences policy, including absences for university-sanctioned events, contained in the WCU Undergraduate Catalog. In particular, please note that the “responsibility for meeting academic requirements rests with the student,” that this policy does not excuse students from completing required academic work, and that professors can require a “fair alternative” to attendance on those days that students must be absent from class in order to participate in a University-Sanctioned Event.


West Chester University and its faculty are committed to assuring a safe and productive educational environment for all students. In order to meet this commitment and to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and guidance from the Office for Civil Rights, the University requires faculty members to report incidents of sexual violence shared by students to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. The only exceptions to the faculty member’s reporting obligation are when incidents of sexual violence are communicated by a student during a classroom discussion, in a writing assignment for a class, or as part of a University-approved research project. Faculty members are obligated to report sexual violence or any other abuse of a student who was, or is, a child (a person under 18 years of age) when the abuse allegedly occurred to the person designated in the University protection of minors policy.  Information regarding the reporting of sexual violence and the resources that are available to victims of sexual violence is set forth at the webpage for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at https://www.wcupa.edu/_admin/diversityEquityInclusion/aboutUs.aspx.  


All students are encouraged to sign up for the University’s free WCU ALERT service, which delivers official WCU emergency text messages directly to your cell phone.  For more information, visit www.wcupa.edu/wcualert. To report an emergency, call the Department of Public Safety at 610-436-3311.


It is expected that faculty, staff, and students activate and maintain regular access to University provided e-mail accounts. Official university communications, including those from your instructor, will be sent through your university e-mail account. You are responsible for accessing that mail to be sure to obtain official University communications. Failure to access will not exempt individuals from the responsibilities associated with this course.