Mind over Chatter: Essential Skills for Navigating the Post-Truth Era

Mind over Chatter: Essential Skills for Navigating the Post-Truth Era is a series of six interactive, Canvas-based learning modules designed specifically for first-year college students and aimed at curbing the spread of problematic information in our time. Made possible by a generous grant from the Rita Allen Foundation and RTI International, these modules can be dropped into any course at almost any level.

Grounded in cognitive psychology and reflective pedagogy, this digital intervention provides students with a fluid set of digital skills, habits, and a basic working knowledge of how to navigate the web and social media, as well as recognize information that is false, misleading, inaccurate, manipulated, or improperly-framed. Students also learn about the complexities of information-gathering and exploration in a digital environment where information and media are abundant and cheap, while attention is rare and much more expensive.

Imminently practical and self-contained, the following six modules may be completed in order or as stand-alone activities in virtually any course or discipline. Each module takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

The six modules in Mind over Chatter are available now for free download or import in the Canvas Commons and IU Expand. We also encourage you to download and read the Mind over Chatter teaching manual, a document that includes a wealth of collaborative activities, writing projects, discussion prompts, and other materials to introduce students to the complexities of media and mindful information-gathering in the post-digital era.

The six modules are as follows:

  1. Initiation into MoC: This module is a general overview of the nature of knowledge, facts, and truth, and how higher education works to help students form an understanding of truth in a world full of complex information and diverse perspectives.
  2. Framing Effects: This module introduces students to the elements of messaging, persuasion, and rhetoric that shape our understandings of the world.
  3. Paradox of Authority: This module explains the relationship between knowledge and trust of authorities/experts, and how that can both help and hinder our comprehension of reality.
  4. Mere Exposure Effect: This module introduces students to a psychological phenomenon that influences what we believe and how we become committed to certain beliefs, ideas, and assumptions.
  5. Confirmation Bias: This module engages students in an interactive activity meant to reveal how our brains form rapid understandings and then work to preserve those understandings in the face of both confirming and disconfirming or even contrary evidence.
  6. Mindfulness, Media, and Misinformation: This module helps students understand how mindfulness, reflection, and simple web-based search techniques can help them guard against skewed, incomplete, misleading, improperly framed, or inaccurate beliefs about reality.

In the classroom, experienced writing instructors and trained peer instructors guide students in discussion, reflection, and exploration of the concepts and skills showcased in the modules. We are currently piloting Mind over Chatter in first-year writing courses (ENG-W 131) because of their focus on critical reading and literacy as students develop as academic writers, researchers, and responsible users of information. In Fall 2020, we plan to expand MoC to all sections of first-year writing at IU Kokomo.

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Indiana University Kokomo Mind over Chatter Team

Polly Boruff-Jones, MLS, MPA, is Dean of the Library at IU Kokomo. She is focused on engaging with students to understand their approach to research and information gathering. A five-time recipient of the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award, she has taught information literacy skills and concepts to students at all college levels. With an interest in mitigating the challenges of the high school to college transition, she especially enjoys working with students who are new to the college experience and has taught freshman seminar courses at three universities.

Hannah Bourne is a senior double majoring in history and political science and public communication. After graduating from IU Kokomo in May 2020, she plans to pursue a PhD in history with the intention of becoming a professor. She aspires to build a career focused on research, teaching, and mentoring students. Throughout her time at IU Kokomo, Hannah has been involved in a variety of student organizations, including serving as President and Vice President of the Student Government Association. Currently, she is involved in an internship with the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Eric Bain-Selbo, to create a lifelong learning program at IU Kokomo. Hannah is a student worker for the Director of Alumni Relations and Campus Ceremonies, a Student Liaison for the IU Kokomo Honors Program, and a Peer Mentor at IU Kokomo.

Mark Canada, PhD, is Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of English. A former journalist, he has written extensively on the intersections of literature and journalism, particularly competition over ways to tell the truth. His five books include Literature and Journalism in Antebellum America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and Introduction to Information Literacy for Students (Wiley, 2017). His work on the present truth crisis has been featured in The Conversation, The Academic Minute, and other venues. In July, he co-presented “Beyond ‘Fake News’: Framing the Next Decade of Higher Education’s Fight Against Misinformation,” the opening plenary address for AASCU’s Summer Academic Affairs Meeting.

Paul Cook, PhD, is Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing at IU Kokomo. He oversees all first-year writing, writing in the disciplines, and writing-intensive courses at the institution. He also has taught an undergraduate course specifically on misinformation and the post-truth crisis, as well as a special topics graduate course on the intersections of misinformation, media, and mindfulness in the digital era. He is co-chair (with Dean Boruff-Jones) of the campus team working on the Digital Polarization project, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Christina Downey, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Success at IU Kokomo. She oversees the university’s student-success initiatives and resources, including New Student Orientation, first-year experiences, and instruction in growth mindset. An award-winning teacher, she has published numerous articles and books, including Positive Psychology in Racial and Ethnic Groups, published by the American Psychological Association.

Mary Kennelly is an adjunct instructor of English at IU Kokomo. In addition to her composition courses, she enjoys providing motorcycle safety instruction via ABATE of Indiana as well as teaching music classes at a local primary school. She also works as a counselor at Birthright of Kokomo, a crisis pregnancy center.

Noah Sababu is a junior at IU Kokomo who is majoring in history with a minor in sociology. After completing his undergraduate degree he intends to become an academic historian with a focus on cultural studies. Alongside his strong academic career, he is an active member of IU Kokomo’s student community and a member of IU Kokomo’s Black Student Union. He was hired as a Peer Mentor for the Mind Over Chatter grant which will have him work directly with incoming college freshmen to practice mindfulness and combat misinformation by honing their critical thinking skills to analyze arguments through various news media.

Kristen Snoddy, senior lecturer in English at IU Kokomo, teaches both freshman composition and literature courses. She is also the director of Freshman Learning Communities. Kristen participated in the fall of 2018 Digital Polarization Initiative (DigiPo) and is also an engaged citizen through volunteerism in her local community.

Aaron Stanley is pursuing a BA in communications with minors in both philosophy and political science at Indiana University Kokomo. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to complete a doctorate program in communications before pursuing a career as a political analyst. Aaron enjoys traveling when he is not working as a facilitator at Elite Banquet & Conference Center, a server at Windmill Grill, and a peer mentor at IU Kokomo.

Martha Warner, MA in Liberal Studies, is an adjunct instructor of communications and English at Indiana University Kokomo. She has been teaching at various levels for over twelve years after earning her BA in English from IU Kokomo. A member of the Indiana University Alumni Association Kokomo Region Board, Martha is actively engaged on campus and in the community. In addition to her role at IU Kokomo, she is a private contractor who writes curriculum, articles and grants, designs and maintains websites, and edits projects and written works.

Michelle Westervelt, MA in English, is a lecturer in English at Indiana University Kokomo. She teaches both composition and literature courses. Additionally, she teaches First Year Experience courses and is actively involved in the Freshman Learning Communities as well as other student success initiatives. Michelle is Director of the Indiana University Kokomo Writing Center and serves on the editorial board for Burningword.com, an international online literary journal. Michelle has been with the university for more than ten years, a full-time lecturer for the past five.

Updated April 13, 2020 at 9:39am EDT.


2019 FAR Executive Summary

At Indiana University, the “FAR” is an acronym that stands for “Faculty Annual Report”–or “Faculty Activity Report,” I’ve never been quite sure. Either way, it is a fairly straightforward and familiar bureaucratic mechanism for keeping tabs and marking faculty labor and activities throughout the year.

Here is the executive summary of my FAR from calendar year 2019.


In 2019, I doubled down on my interests in exploring digital distraction and co-hosted a symposium, “Mindfulness, Media, and Misinformation in the Digital Era,” with Dean Polly Boruff-Jones. Mike Caulfield of Washington State University-Vancouver delivered our keynote address and led a fantastic workshop on his “SIFT” technique for teaching digital literacy. I also made four research presentations; of these four, two were at national flagship conferences (LOEX and CCCC) and one was at an invitation-only gathering of scholars, non-profit leaders, and policy-makers at the independent think-tank RTI International in Research Triangle, NC. While building and then teaching a brand-new online graduate-level course for the systemwide collaborative MA in the spring, I also appeared on stage in the IU Kokomo production of West Side Story. Working with Dr. Erin Doss, I co-led six Table Talks events (one off-campus), wrote nearly a dozen letters of recommendation, observed three of my colleagues’ classes, and managed the writing program with its nearly twenty faculty. Starting on August 1, I assumed the role of President of Faculty Senate.

Below I have highlighted a few of my key accomplishments in three areas: teaching, research, and service. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of activities. I have only listed those achievements that I felt were significant enough to warrant inclusion in an Executive Summary. A comprehensive record of my annual activities can be found in the Digital Measures (i.e., FAR) report online. Second, these achievements are not listed in chronological order, but rather loosely in order of significance and merit. All items below were completed between January 1 and December 31, 2019.


  • Over the summer of 2019, the “Mind over Chatter” team from IU Kokomo (VCAA Mark Canada, AVCAA Christina Downey, and Dean Polly Boruff-Jones) wrote and edited six Canvas modules for our grant-winning project sponsored by the Rita Allen Foundation’s Misinformation Solutions Forum. I wrote the bulk of module six and provided editing and feedback on the other five modules. The modules can be accessed at the following link: https://iu.instructure.com/courses/1848795. I also wrote and edited significant portions of the Mind over Chatter Teaching Manual (also located in the MoC Canvas site).
  • In August, I began overseeing the “Mind over Chatter” pilot sections of ENG-W with three instructors and three peer instructors. This grant-funded pilot project requires screening, interviewing, hiring, and training peer instructors to work as teaching assistants in a first-year writing class that integrates the MoC modules, as well as meeting regularly with the teams and developing and implementing assessment measures.
  • We continued our popular series Table Talks at IU Kokomo with five Table Talks events and a KEY trip to Bloomington, Indiana. Our theme for AY 2019-20 is “#Resistance,” and in 2019 we tackled the topics “Art as Resistance” in February, “The Limits of Science and Technology” in March, “Food Insecurity and Hunger in America” in September, “Losing Ground: Economic Insecurity in the 21st Century” in October, and “Digital Security: Truth and Lies in the Misinformation Age” in November. Each of these discussions featured faculty members from across campus who spoke to the issues at hand, while also engaging with students, answering questions and debating ideas. We served lunch to all who attended and enjoyed a healthy number of participants, with as many as sixty attendees at some events. In addition to the on-campus events, we received KEY funds to take Table Talks to Bloomington, where we learned about the slow food movement and ate lunch at Farm Bloomington, a restaurant focused on providing local food and environmental sustainability, among other topics and activities.
  • In 2019, I conducted and wrote three teaching observations for colleagues in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I also wrote nine letters of recommendation for colleagues as well as current and former students (i.e., recent graduates from IU Kokomo).
  • In August, I taught for the fifth consecutive year in the KEY Summer Institute (formerly the Summer Bridge Program), a one-week academic orientation program that helps entering first-year college students become better acquainted with the rigors of college and college-level habits of mind. AVCAA Christina Downey and Academic Affairs have been keeping rigorous data on the retention rates and academic success of KSI students for several years now, and the data suggest that the KSI students have high rates of both retention and persistence towards degree.
  • I developed and taught one new course, which was a graduate-level, special topics course in rhetoric and composition studies (ENG-W 600: Special Topics in R/C) for the new collaborative MA in English degree. Based on my interests in mindfulness and misinformation, this course allowed me to develop a curriculum that traced the intersections between mindfulness, writing, and the technology of the word. I received several highly-positive, unsolicited remarks from students on this course. My course evaluations overall continue to be strongly positive—some are stellar. Please note that the course evaluations for both ENG-W 600 (Special Topics in Rhetoric and Composition) in the summer and ENG-L 495 (Senior Seminar in English) in the fall were not released because the reporting threshold for the course was not met. Finally, note also that only one student of fourteen possible responded to the course evaluations for ENG-W 500 in the spring.
  • In December, I presented at the CTLA’s 20/20 on Teaching and Research with Yan He on digital literacy strategies in the classroom.


  • In September 2019, along with my co-organizer Dean Polly Boruff-Jones, I developed and hosted a well-attended symposium entitled, “Mindfulness, Media, and Misinformation in the Digital Era” at IU Kokomo. The one-day symposium drew scholars, librarians, and teachers from all over the US to talk about how mindfulness can be a useful pedagogical tool in the era of digital distraction and distortion. Mike Caulfield, who speaks routinely to national audiences on issues of misinformation and the media, was our keynote speaker and workshop leader.
  • In March of 2019, I traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to present a research poster at the flagship conference of my discipline, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, or “the four Cs,” as it is more commonly known. The poster, entitled “Revising Is Reading Is Performing: Metacognitive Reading Strategies in Writing-Centered Classrooms,” was the result of a joint research project with my colleague, Dr. Jill Parrott of Eastern Kentucky University. The poster was well-received throughout the course of the afternoon and we talked with at least a dozen curious scholars and teachers about our work.
  • In May, I traveled to LOEX in Minneapolis, Minnesota (May 2019). This is the largest conference in the field of library science and, as such, the proposal acceptance rate is highly competitive. Despite its enormous attendance, LOEX organizers keep the concurrent panels few and far between and there seems to be a general expectation that attendees show up for panels; the result is that a panel may end up (as we did) with well over one hundred people in attendance. Our presentation, “Combating Digital Polarization: Teaching Undergraduates Web Literacy Using ‘Four Moves and a Habit,’” was cited by the conference organizers to be the second-highest attended panel of this year’s LOEX. An essay version of our presentation was later published in the LOEX 2019 conference proceedings.
  • In February 2019, I traveled to Western Kentucky University to present “Cross-campus Collaboration Enhances Summer Bridge: The KEY Summer Institute” with AVCAA Christina Downey, Tracy Springer, and Dr. Beau Shine. This presentation took place at HIPs in the States, an annual conference on high-impact practices in higher education. In 2019, I also began serving on the conference review team for proposals.
  • In July, I traveled to the Research Triangle in North Carolina with VCAA Mark Canada to present a progress report on our work for “Mind over Chatter” to a gathering of scholars, CEOs, and policy-makers hosted by RTI International. Our panel spoke to the issue of communications technologies and trust in the digital era.


  • In August of 2019, I began my first term as President of Faculty Senate. A few of our most significant projects from late 2019 include implementing the new Teaching Professor criteria, surveying faculty on service loads, and tackling the issue of declining summer enrollments. In my role as Faculty Senate President, I also serve as Chair of the Budgetary Affairs committee, which will report on their work so far this year at the Budget Hearings in mid-February 2020, and the Regional Faculty Council (RFC) and University Faculty Council (UFC).
  • I began my sixth year as Director of Writing at IU Kokomo. In 2019, I focused on the following tasks and strategic priorities: (1) further training and developing our adjunct faculty, which includes hosting our annual summer workshop on teaching, working one-on-one with adjunct faculty on their course syllabi and assignments, conducting classroom observations of teaching, researching best practices, distributing announcements, materials, and tutorials; (2) promoting ENG-W 221 and meeting frequently with faculty and advisors to help guide students into the right sections of the course; (3) working with Academic Affairs to develop a New Student Intake Survey form to try to identify students who may need ESL or basic writing help; (4) developing the “second edition” of our Writing Program Handbook for AY 2019-20 (with Prof. Kristen Snoddy), which includes a helpful “New Semester Checklist” document for all faculty who teach ENG-W 131/132/221, sample syllabi, assignments, handouts, worksheets, contact rosters, and other materials (in the Files tab at https://iu.instructure.com/courses/1418911) and also in IU Box at https://iu.app.box.com/folder/47024392359; (5) developing appropriate assessment measures to evaluate program-wide student learning, including an ongoing collaborative research project on information literacy assessment with Yan He in the library; and (6) participating in off-campus initiatives related to writing, including presenting at the national Conference on College Composition and Communication nearly every year.
  • For the second full year I continued my service as Reviews Editor of the online WAC/WID journal Across the Disciplines. In 2019, I oversaw the publication of five book reviews.
  • In late 2019, I served on a promotion and tenure committee/dossier review for Michael Koerner and his promotion to Associate Professor of Art and New Media.
  • Starting in late fall of 2018, I was appointed as co-chair of Joe Keener’s Administrative Review Committee. We completed our work on this committee in mid-February 2019, and received a written commendation (via email) from Prof. Bridget Whitmore, Chair of the Administrative Review Committee for Faculty Senate.

Digital Info Literacy & Online Learning in a Pandemic

“The professor’s role in this new digital learning environment is not to play the role of the master of content; it is to be the master of resourcefulness. In this role, the teacher models how to think in the face of an endless torrent of information.” Richard E. Miller, “On Digital Reading,” Pedagogy, 2016, vol. 16, issue 1, pp. 153-64.

Driving 600+ miles to South Carolina yesterday gave me ample time to reflect on useful, open-access web resources that instructors from a wide variety of disciplines and academic backgrounds can use over the next two weeks however long of remote teaching and general societal uncertainty.

First, a few definitions that may be helpful to keep in mind:

  • digital (information) literacy: “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information, an ability that requires both cognitive and technical skills.” (Ellen C. Carillo, MLA Guide to Digital Literacy, 2019.)
  • reading laterally (or “lateral reading”): Coined by educators Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, lateral reading describes an approach to reading in which one “leaves a website and opens new tabs along a horizontal axis in order to use the resources of the Internet to learn about a site or its claims” (Wineburg and McGrew, “Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information,” 2017). Examples include using Wikipedia to investigate a source or performing a reverse Google image search to find the origin of a suspicious-looking pic or meme.
  • problematic information: A catch-all or umbrella term that includes all forms of information considered to be problematic or manipulated in some form or fashion. Examples include misinformation, disinformation, mal-information, propaganda, improperly- or misleadingly-framed news stories, “fake news,” manipulated media or memes, information warfare, spamming, jamming, deepfakes, cheap fakes, and even some forms of advertisement. For a quick glossary of these terms that would be excellent to share with students, check out Caroline Jack’s “Lexicon of Lies: Terms for Problematic Information.”


Now for the resources. The list below includes only materials I’ve personally vetted, viewed, and/or used in a classroom context.

Sifting Through the Coronavirus Pandemic  (Washington State University Vancouver)

The resources on this site use the SIFT method of digital fact-checking developed by Mike Caulfield to engage students in parsing out fact, fiction, and farce in the face of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. You can use these resources as a standalone introduction to SIFT or as a supplement to other materials. These are also a great start to examining the epistemological issues related to the pandemic.

“A Handy List of Reputable Coronavirus Information” (Melissa Ryan, Medium.com)

This curated post includes links to sources of reputable information like the CDC and the WHO as well as a smattering of resources for detecting and debunking misinformation online, such as Media Matters, FirstDraft Resources for Reporters, and more.

Mind over Chatter: Skills for Navigating the Post-Truth Era (Indiana University Kokomo)

Available in the Canvas Commons: search for “Mind over Chatter” if the above hyperlink doesn’t work properly. 

Mind over Chatter is a series of six interactive, Canvas-based learning modules designed specifically for first-year college students but useful for students at any level. Grounded in cognitive psychology and reflective pedagogy, this digital intervention provides students with a set of digital skills, habits, and a basic working knowledge of how to navigate web and ferret out problematic information in all its subtle and multifarious forms. Imminently practical and self-contained, the six modules that make up MoC may be completed in order or as stand-alone, roughly twenty- to thirty-minute activities.

The six modules in Mind over Chatter include

  1. Initiation into MoC: This module is a general overview of the nature of knowledge, facts, and truth, and how higher education works to help students form an understanding of truth in a world full of complex information and diverse perspectives.
  2. Framing Effects: This module introduces students to the elements of messaging, persuasion, and rhetoric that shape our understandings of the world
  3. Paradox of Authority: This module sets the table for the others in that it explores the relationship between knowledge and trust of authorities and experts, as well as how our shared epistemological reliance on information can both help and hinder our comprehension of reality.
  4. Mere Exposure Effect: This module explores with students a psychological phenomenon that influences what we believe and how committed we become to certain beliefs.
  5. Confirmation Bias: This module engages students in an interactive activity meant to reveal how our brains form rapid understandings of things and then work to preserve those understandings in the face of both confirming and disconfirming evidence.
  6. Mindfulness, Media, and Misinformation: This modules helps students understand how mindfulness, reflection, and simple web-based search techniques can help them guard against skewed, incomplete, misleading, improperly framed, or inaccurate beliefs about reality

Click here for information on accessing Canvas Commons and importing materials.

Check, Please! Starter Course (Michael Caulfield, Washington State University Vancouver)

Check, Please! is a three-hour online module on source and fact-checking that can be dropped into any course or taken as a self-study experience. Designed and developed by Mike Caulfield, the godfather of web literacy and fact-checking as well as author of the open-access textbook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, the activities in this set of modules are top-notch and can easily be adapted to virtually any course, any focus, any discipline. Don’t just take my word for it. You can read reviews of Mike’s work on this page at his highly readable and useful blog.

Data & Society is an independent nonprofit research organization that produces original research, reports, and teaching-related documents to support evidence-based public debate about emerging technology. The podcast page is chock full of useful podcasts students can listen to and then engage in debate and discussion via online discussion boards.

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life (Rand Corporation, Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich)

This report from Rand explores the causes and consequences of what the authors term “Truth Decay” and how they are interrelated, and examines past eras of US history to identify evidence of Truth Decay’s four trends and observe similarities with and differences from the current period. It also outlines a research agenda, a strategy for investigating the causes of Truth Decay and determining what can be done to address its causes and consequences.

Truth Decay is defined as a set of four related trends: increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and declining trust in formerly respected sources of factual information.

In the context of a public pandemic like the coronavirus, some of these readings may prove useful with students, particularly in terms of giving them a vocabulary with which to analyze and discuss distrust of media in the post-truth era.

Four Moves: Adventures in Fact-Checking for Students (Michael Caulfield, WSU Vancouver)

Sometimes you have great ideas for exercises related to problematic information, but you don’t have time to scour the web for prompts. Luckily, at this blog, that work has been done for you. Introduce students to “the four moves” and/or “SIFT,” then ask students to pick a prompt, analyze it using the moves, and report back on what they find.

At this link you can find four videos from 2018 that introduce students to the four moves and a habit method of fact-checking on the web.

SIFT: Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Better Coverage, Trace Claims to Original Source

Also developed by Mike Caulfield, SIFT replaces the original four moves as a quick and easy-to-internalize heuristic for fact-checking on the web.

The New York Times coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage

So, there are a couple of caveats to the NYTimes‘ free coronavirus coverage (i.e., you have to first set up a free account with NYTimes.com and the articles are limited to those deemed most essential by the editorial board), but it’s still useful in a classroom setting; plus, most universities and colleges, like mine, offer free, full access to NYTimes.com.)


The granddaddy of urban legend fact-checking sites, Snopes has been ferreting out problematic information on the web since 1994.


Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, this fact-checking website uses its patented “Truth-o-Meter” to rate the accuracy of statements made by politicians and other public figures as true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, or pants on fire!


Published by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, this nonpartisan, nonprofit fact-checking website monitors the accuracy of statements made by politicians and others in positions of power.

Media Matters for America 

Launched in 2004, this nonprofit site is openly liberal in its political bias and its commitment to fact-checking “conservative misinformation” (“About”).

News Busters 

This site is a project of the conservative-leaning Media Research Center. Their mission is “to provide immediate exposure of national media bias, unfairness, innaccuracy, and occasional idiocy” (“AboutNewsBusters.org”).

The WayBack Machine

Composed of nearly half a trillion indexed webpages, this site is the archive of the internet. Here you can find screenshots from old and defunct websites going back to the earliest (or corniest) days of the web.


Last updated at 9:30am EDT, March 26, 2020

ENG-W 600: Mindfulness, Misinformation, & Media in Composition Studies


This graduate-level special topics course in rhetoric and composition studies focuses on the intersections of mindfulness, misinformation, and media in recent scholarly discussions to foreground the following questions: first, how might mindfulness and/or contemplative writing pedagogies help us and our students resist the lure of problematic information (e.g., misinformation, disinformation, “networked propaganda,” [Benkler, Faris, and Roberts], etc.) and digital polarization on the web and social media? Second, how can these same techniques help us to navigate the epistemological complexities of living and thriving in a (post-)digital context? Third, how can we develop the habits of mind that will empower us as professionals, scholars, and citizens? And if we are educators or aspiring educators, how can we impart these capacities to our students?

These are complicated questions. As such, they resist easy answers. In the exploratory spirit of a special topics course, then, this course will provide you with the intellectual space to begin to flesh out some of your own answers to one or more of these significant questions through a series of readings, discussions, and exploratory projects.

Here’s how the course is organized: in the Introductory Module (IM), we will set the table for the rest of the course by learning some basic terminology concerning problematic information (misinformation/disinformation), digital polarization, and the complexities of digital media. The IM will also provide you with some basic information regarding Canvas and how best to get in touch with me and each other over the course of this rather short six-week summer term.

In the first full module, “Media,” we will take stock of our own professional and personal engagements with digital media of all kinds by reflecting on how we use media and give us some sense of our “information diets.” Like the IM, this module will also involve learning some basic terminology and getting better acquainted with some of the core concepts of digital media.

In the second module, “Misinformation,” we explore recent conversations surrounding problematic information, digital polarization, and the weaponization of information. Much of the work in this module will involve reading core texts in these areas and developing a working understanding of the major concepts, moves, and stakes of these important conversations. The major project for this module involves an exploratory presentation on some concept related to one of these areas.

Our third module, “Mindfulness,” then reaches outside rhetoric and composition studies to disciplines as diverse as cognitive psychology, critical media studies, and communication theory in an effort to understand the contemporary complexity and reach of misinformation and media environments into our lives and those of our students. In this way, the third module zooms out to consider how print and digital media have evolved over the course of the last century in Western culture. Finally, we conclude the course by reflecting on what we have learned and thinking ahead to how some of these concepts might be applied to our personal and professional lives.


Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, students will be able to

  • Describe, identify, and discuss meditative practices as they have appeared in Western culture (from traditional Buddhism to the corporate boardroom);
  • Describe, identify, and discuss recent scholarship in rhetoric and composition studies that examines mindfulness and contemplative writing pedagogies;
  • Describe, identify, and discuss the historical, cultural, economic, and political development of “fake news,” misinformation, disinformation, satire, and other forms of problematic information and networked propaganda;
  • Use research and scholarship from diverse disciplines to craft an effective multimodal presentation; and
  • Stake out a corner of the vast (and growing) research landscape on media, misinformation, and mindfulness to inform your pedagogical approach.


Required Course Texts

  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 1970. Continuum, 2000. (Link to Amazon site.)
  • McIntyre, Lee. Post-Truth. MIT, 2018. (Link to Amazon site.)
  • Ragoonaden, Karen, editor. Mindful Teaching and Learning: Developing a Pedagogy of Well-Being. Lexington Books, 2015. (Available in full-text at this link. You may need to use your IU credentials to access the e-book.)
  • Wenger, Christy I. Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies: Contemplative Writing Pedagogy. Parlor, 2015.   (Available in full-text at this link.)
  • Special issue on contemplative writing across the disciplines (WAC) in Across the Disciplines, eds. Marlowe Miller and Karolyn Kinane, 31 Mar. 2019, wac.colostate.edu/atd/special/contemplative/.


Course Outline

Introductory Module (Week 1)

This initial module will involve getting to know Canvas, helping your colleagues and me get to know you, setting some goals for the course, and reading about the course learning outcomes. We will also do a bit of introductory reading to get us oriented to the course topics, themes and key concepts. The module will conclude with a reflection on what you hope to accomplish in this online class over the course of the next several weeks.

Module 1: Media (Week 2)

In this module, we will round out our discussion of media—traditional, digital, and social—by examining an eclectic series of readings, including McIntyre’s helpful overview in Post-Truth, the Truth Decay report from the Rand Corporation, Dennis Baron’s classic essay “From Pencils to Pixels,” and excerpts from other texts, including Plato’s ancient dialogue the Phaedrus. The major project for this module will invite you to complete a reading analysis based on the rather extensive reading we will be doing in our first week and engage in some discussion with your colleagues in the course.

Module 2: Misinformation (Weeks 3 and 4)

Module 2 will focus on problematic information (disinformation, misinformation, propaganda, etc.) in all its various forms and guises. Your major project for this module will include a multi-modal exploratory presentation on some aspect of problematic information. Since much of our work in this module will focus on the politics of information and how increased literacy leads to individual and political empowerment, our readings in Module 2 will include Freire’s landmark book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as well as a smattering of articles and essays on the history of misinformation and the weaponization of media in the digital age.

Module 3: Mindfulness (Weeks 5 and 6)

Our final module involves exploring ways that mindfulness and contemplative writing pedagogies can help to minimize the harmful effects of misinformation in an information-rich, post-digital society. The major project for Module 3 asks you to develop an annotated bibliography on mindfulness and either a short research paper (8-10 pages) or a multimodal research presentation of similar intellectual heft that you can use in a professional or educational/pedagogical context. The majority of our readings for Module 3 will include excerpts from the books Mindful Teaching and Learning: Developing a Pedagogy of Well-Being and Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies: Contemplative Writing Pedagogy.


Weekly Course Overview (Summer Session II 2019)

Week One — 6/26 – 7/03 = Introductory Module 0.5 (IM)

  • Getting accustomed to the class through the Introductory Discussion Forum
  • Reading from the home page in Canvas
  • Responding to colleagues’ discussion posts; asking a question of your instructor
  • Reading about Student Learning Outcomes, Disciplinary Standards, and some basic terminology related to problematic information/misinformation, digital polarization, and post-truth
  • Responding to the above readings
  • Viewing a video on setting personal goals

Week Two 7/03 – 7/10 = Module 1 (Media)

  • Reading McIntyre’s Post-Truth
  • Reading Truth Decay (Rand Corporation)
  • Reading Baron’s “From Pencils to Pixels”
  • Reading Ragoonaden’s “Mindful Education and Well Being”
  • Completing Major Project 1

Weeks Three & Four — 7/10 – 7/24 = Module 2 (Misinformation)

  • Finishing reading McIntyre’s Post-Truth
  • Reading Jack’s “Lexicon of Lies”
  • Reading Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Reading chapters from Southwell, et al.’s Misinformation and Mass Audiences
  • Completing an analysis of one of the readings
  • Producing an exploratory presentation based on the Module 2 readings and your own research
  • Responding to the exploratory presentation drafts of your colleagues
  • Reflecting on your learning during the module
  • Completing Major Project 2

Weeks Five & Six — 7/24 ­– 8/07 = Module 3 (Mindfulness)

  • Researching and writing an annotated bibliography on some concept related to the course and your professional life
  • Developing a final presentation or short research paper on this concept
  • Reflecting on your learning during the module
  • Completing Major Project 3
  • Final grades posted by noon on August 9



Work Cited

Benkler, Yochai, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts. Networked Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. Oxford UP, 2018.


ENG-W 500: Teaching Composition

W500_calligraphy (1)

This fully-online, graduate-level course is an introduction to—and a history of—the field of writing studies, which goes by various names, including “composition studies,” “rhetoric and composition studies,” “composition-rhetoric,” and sometimes “rhet-comp.” This course historicizes approaches to writing instruction in the West going back as far as classical antiquity, it surveys writing studies’ major movements and moments in the mid- to late 20th century in the US, and it speculates about the teaching of writing well into the 21st century. Together we will study the major concepts, themes, debates, and politics of the discipline; investigate the theoretical assumptions and historical foundations that underpin the various movements within writing studies (e.g., expressivism, Writing Across the Curriculum, critical pedagogy, social constructivism, post-process, etc.); and explore the impact of digital technologies on the teaching of writing.

After examining where we’ve been and where we are in writing studies, you will then apply what you’ve learned to develop a writing assignment/unit of your own, from preparation or invention, to assignment and production, to evaluation or assessment. Drawing upon the pedagogical theories, concepts, and histories you’ve examined, you will argue for and justify the effectiveness and appropriateness of this assignment/unit in your (or another’s) writing classroom.

Finally, this course has been designed to give you several opportunities to reflect on how your own background, interests, and goals fit into the larger network of issues and approaches in writing studies. We conclude the course by thinking about where we’re going as a discipline, which includes projecting into the future as to where and how your understanding of your background, interests, and goals can be implemented and enacted.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe and differentiate the role of writing in writing pedagogy throughout history;
  • Describe the significant features of pedagogical approaches to teaching writing in more recent times, and describe how these features reflect larger conceptual debates in approaches to writing instruction;
  • Analyze and contrast how the larger contexts (such as social, economic, political, historical, cultural, and institutional forces) have influenced the development of different pedagogical approaches to teaching writing;
  • Analyze how ideas about text and textuality have shifted in disciplinary, institutional, and social history;
  • Outline a plan for teaching a writing unit (from preparation or invention, to assignment and production, to evaluation or assessment) that draws upon course concepts and information, and argue for or justify its use;
  • Discuss how your own background, interests, and goals fit into the larger network of topics, issues, approaches, theories, and research you have studied, and project into the future as to where and how your understanding of your background, interests, and goals can be implemented and enacted.

Steps to Complete Before Getting Started

  • To begin this course, please do the following:
    • Obtain the required materials for the class

Getting in Touch with Me … and Each Other

You have several avenues of communication for this course:

  • If you have general questions about the course (assignments, due dates, course policies, textbooks, major projects, etc.), please post your questions to the “Questions about the Course” Discussion in the “Discussions” tab. I will check this Discussion forum regularly and answer any questions you may have. If you have a question that likely concerns the entire class, please use this space.
  • “The Coffee House Lounge” site in the Discussions tab will be an informal space for you to meet your fellow students and get to know one another over the course of the semester. For instance, you may use this space if you find an interesting article, website, or some other resource you want to share with the rest of the class.
  • If you have more specific questions about, say, a project you’re working on or an idea for an assignment or even a question about the readings, the best way to get in touch with me is through the Inbox in Canvas (located to the left of the screen). For more in-depth discussions, I will also gladly set up a Zoom or Skype meeting with you, whether individually or in groups.
  • I will generally reply to messages as quickly as possible during the week (Monday through Friday), during regular business hours (8am to 6pm or so). On the weekends, holidays, and on the rare occasion that I am traveling, it may take me a little longer to return your message.

Course Syllabus and Major Assignments

ENG-W 500_Syllabus_Cook

Guidelines and rubric for Discussions

Major Project 1: Timeline



Teaching Statement (2012-2017)

I don’t know that I have ever had a professor who made a greater effort to involve each student in intellectually stimulating conversation.”

–anonymous student comment in Senior Seminar: English/Communication Arts (Fall 2016)

Excellence in Teaching

On page 3, the Indiana University Kokomo School of Humanities and Social Sciences Promotion and Tenure Criteria state that the following guidelines are to be used if Excellence in Teaching is being sought as the basis for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor:

  1. Teaching as the area of excellence

The candidate should have demonstrated their teaching to be extremely effective in promoting student learning and engagement, with a documented pattern of assessment and reflection on teaching outcomes, and based on self, peer, and student evaluation and review. Evidence such as a consistent willingness to engage in new course development as needed, continuous course improvement, and to work individually with students should be demonstrated. (See also sections 1.1 and 1.1.1 of the Department of Humanities Annual Evaluation and Promotion and Tenure Guidelines.)

In the following statement, I will show how I meet the criteria for Excellence in Teaching by grouping my activities and accomplishments into the following four categories cited in the IU Kokomo School of Humanities and Social Sciences Promotion and Tenure Criteria:

(1) course development/improvement and effective teaching in diverse areas;

(2) my individual mentorship of students at all levels, including undergraduate/graduate research;

(3) initiatives in student learning and engagement—both solo and collaborative—on my own campus, statewide, and within the entire IU system; and

(4) participation in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

What follows is a summary of my teaching accomplishments.

(1) Course Development and Pedagogical Innovations

As I write in my Statement of Teaching Philosophy (see below), my pedagogy is always dedicated to sharing knowledge and teaching practical skills of literacy and critical thinking. In addition to making sure my students have a firm grasp on content-based knowledge and writing skills, I also provide them with the necessary tools to map an area of inquiry or a critical conversation. In all of my courses and engagements with students, I strive to provide readings, artifacts, and experiences that (1) provoke intense discussions and responses that resonate with my students’ own needs, interests, and experiences; (2) cultivate in them capacities for response, especially in terms of their encounters with others and with challenging texts and artifacts; and (3) expand their awareness of their situatedness and “response-ability” in the world.[1]

Since joining the faculty at Indiana University Kokomo in Fall 2012, I have developed and taught just over 40 courses total for a diverse range of students at all levels, from incoming freshmen in the Bridge Program and at-risk students in first-year writing courses to second- and third-year graduate students working on their theses, English majors and non-English majors, and a fair sampling of every other type of student in between. Of these courses, 16 were new courses that had either never been taught on the IU Kokomo campus previously (e.g., ENG-W 210: Literacy & Public Life and HON-H 399: Digital Culture and Its [Dis]contents) or had not been taught for some time (e.g., ENG-W 365: Technical Editing and ENG-W 368: Research Methods and Materials). Among those courses some highlights include:

  • three Senior Seminar Capstone courses in English (ENG-L 495), Communication Arts (SPCH-S 400), and New Media Theory (NMAT-G 411);
  • an invited Honors Colloquium on digital culture and media (HON-H 399);
  • six completed thesis projects for students in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program (three as thesis Chairperson);
  • an Independent Study in Writing (ENG-W 395) and one Internship in Writing (ENG-W 398);
  • five themed courses in Freshman Learning Communities (FLCs);
  • nearly a dozen Honors-option courses (HON-H 275), which involved developing special assignments for individual Honors students;
  • three graduate-level courses in the MALS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) program;
  • and more than a dozen Senior Seminar projects with individual students (see “Mentoring Students” below for more details).

My teaching has also been observed by my colleagues a total of six times in five years:

  • ENG-W 365: Technical Editing (Observed by Dr. Scott Jones in Fall 2012)
  • ENG-L 202: Literary Interpretation (Observed by Dr. Joe Keener in Summer 2015)
  • ENG-W 131: Reading, Writing, & Inquiry I (Observed by Dr. Chris Darr in Fall 2015)
  • ENG-W 132: Elementary Composition II (Observed by Dr. Tara Kingsley in Spring 2017)
  • ENG-G 301: History of the English Language (Observed on two separate occasions by Wayne Madsen and Dr. Eva White in Spring 2017)

*A note on viewing the course profiles: Below is a complete list of the courses I have developed and taught during my tenure at IU Kokomo. Clicking on course titles will take you to a course profile, which includes

  • a reflection statement on how I have assessed student learning and revised the course as needed based on student and peer feedback and my own ongoing pedagogical research;
  • course evaluation summaries (quantitative and qualitative data); and
  • relevant course materials, such as the most recent course syllabus, key assignments, course projects, and pedagogical innovations from the past five years of teaching.

In several cases, I also include older versions of the course syllabus when I explicitly highlight a major curricular revision or thematic overhaul of the course in my course reflection. Some course profiles may also contain excerpted comments from the previously-mentioned teaching observation letters from my faculty colleagues.

Finally, an asterisk (*) next to a course title denotes that I have taught this course multiple times, each time with significant revisions to the curriculum and pedagogical approach. A hashtag (#) next to a course title indicates that some semesters this course was also cross-listed as a graduate-level course (LBST-D 511) in our Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program, which means I also developed an alternate, graduate-level syllabus and curriculum specifically for these students that included additional assignments, course projects, and readings. (As previously mentioned, I have developed three such graduate-level syllabi/courses for MALs students.)

As the only faculty member at IU Kokomo with a PhD in rhetoric and composition studies and a full-time teaching load—and given my diverse research background—I am capable of teaching a wide variety of courses, seminars, and independent studies with students in several overlapping disciplines, including cultural studies, new media theory/technology studies, rhetorical theory and history, linguistics, technical editing, film studies, research methods and materials, critical theory, and composition/writing studies. Fortunately for both my teaching portfolio and my research interests, my colleagues in the Department of English and Language Studies (ELS) specialize primarily in literary studies and foreign languages, which gives me the chance to hone my teaching and research in creative and relevant ways. Furthermore, my colleagues in the ELS department have been incredibly supportive and generous in allowing me the freedom to develop courses and curricula that pique my interests. In other words, I have a great deal of autonomy in terms of what I can teach, as evidenced by the list above, but I am also able (and quite willing) to shape my interests to the needs of the ELS Department in strategic and innovative ways.

(2) Mentoring Students at All Levels  

Throughout my career at IU Kokomo, I have made a special effort to forge mentorship or “coaching” relationships with students regardless of major, level, or academic area. I have mentored and written countless letters of recommendation for individual students, several of whom have gone on to graduate school, competitive TA-ships, and in one case even the associate editorship of an academic journal. I am a regular participant in our campus’s VIP recruitment days, I have always served as an interviewer at our annual Crimson and Cream Scholarship Days, acted as a judge for our Department’s high school writing contest, as a reviewer for Field (our literary journal), and I’ve acted with students in a stage production of You Can’t Take It with You and even played flag football (2012 and 2013), basketball (2013), and softball (2016) on the “#FACULTAFF” team. In 2015-16, I also assisted with the coaching of our Cross-Country Team under the leadership of Coach Jason VanAlstine.

I regularly assist the retention efforts of the Academic Advising Office by reaching out to and in some cases assisting students I have come to know well, and I share my passion for learning as much as possible, whether that takes place in the classroom, via Table Talks (see below), during office hours, on the stage, even on a trip to a Bloomington art gallery. Each year since 2013, I have been an enthusiastic participant in the IU Kokomo Student Research Symposium, judging presentation panels, helping out with the organization of the event, and especially encouraging my own students to submit their research projects and actively mentoring and supporting those who do. In many cases, I have provided in-depth feedback to several students about their presentations as a judge and even worked with individual students to design courses and submit their work for publication. I have also co-developed a course with an undergraduate student (see below for details); I then taught that course in Spring 2015 as the second iteration of ENG-W 210: Literacy and Public Life.

Graduate Research

I have served as the thesis director for three successful MALS thesis projects:

  • Navi Vernon, “Write to Recovery: Isolating Characteristics of Successful Therapeutic Writing to Guide Others Towards Recovery” (2014)
  • Mary Kennelly, “What’s Up with Grading in First-Year Writing?” (2015)
  • Chad Wagoner, “Mixed Martial Arts and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: Is There a Correlation?” (2016)

I have also served as a thesis committee member and reader for four successful MALS thesis projects:

  • Greg Ogle, “Friendship and Trust in Second Life: An Autoethnography of Social Interactions in an Anonymous Virtual World” (2014)
  • Scott Manthe, “Signals of Participation: Degrees of Involvement at Internet-only and Over-the-air Student-run College Radio Stations” (2015)
  • Jesse Sopher, “A Queer Golden Age: Negotiating Influences of Advocacy, Community, and Heteronormativity in Queer Television Narratives” (2015)
  • Keith Lane, “Workplace Assimilation: A Study of the Perception of Being Valued” (2016)

Independent Studies, Internships, and Undergraduate Research

  • Alexis Nash, “A Meta-investigation of Internships in the US” This Academic Internship explored the concept and history of academic internships, using as our primary text Ross Perlin’s book Intern Nation: How to Learn Nothing and Earn Little in a Brave New Economy (2012). (2015)
  • Josh Mahoney, TA and course co-developer for “The Corporation: Giants among Us” This Academic Internship resulted in the development of the second iteration of ENG-W 210: Literacy and Public Life, which took as its theme the role of multinational corporations in American society. (2014)
  • Julie Earl, “An Exploration of the Common Core Standards in K-12 Public Education in Indiana.” This Independent Study on the Common Core in Indiana’s public high schools culminated in a presentation at the IU Kokomo Student Research Symposium. (2013)

(3) Initiatives in Teaching, Learning, and Student Success

Teaching and researching at a regional, teaching-intensive, and primarily undergraduate university has provided me with ample opportunities to engage with both students and teachers from across campus and across the state of Indiana. In this section, I outline some of these initiatives and highlight my contributions to enhancing student learning and expanding the curriculum.

Director of Writing

As Director of Writing, a leadership position I have held since 2014, my teaching-related responsibilities include (but are not limited to)

  • mentoring, training, and retaining a core of adjunct faculty, a group of approximately 17 dedicated writing instructors, several of whom have been with IU Kokomo for several years (the Writing Program represents the largest single cadre of adjunct instructors on the IU Kokomo campus);
  • developing and leading a two-day in-service training program every summer for adjunct and resident instructors of first-year writing (ENG-W 131/132) since 2014;
  • working one-on-one with adjunct faculty and helping them develop as teachers (e.g., conducting classroom observations of teaching, meeting in my office for pedagogical discussions, and communicating with adjunct instructors via email and Canvas);
  • making textbook adoptions and other curricular and pedagogical decisions for everything related to ENG-W 131/132;
  • researching, planning, and developing a Writing-in-the-Disciplines replacement course for ENG-W 132: Elementary Composition II at the 200-level called ENG-W 221: Sophomore Writing Lab;
  • working with other Writing Directors in the IU system on various committees and subcommittees to revise and develop curriculum for ENG-W 131, launch initiatives, and plan a statewide conference; and
  • building and maintaining our “Resources for ENG-W 131/132” Canvas site (access requires IU credentials) to communicate with adjunct faculty, share handouts and sample syllabi, make announcements/updates, and train adjunct and resident faculty in how to use Canvas more effectively to respond to student writing.

In 2013-14, I was part of an IU system-wide committee that was charged with overhauling the major assignments and curriculum in ENG-W 131—a major curriculum revision project that was an exciting opportunity for me as a new(er) Writing Director. I also research best practices related to writing-intensive courses and making sure that our campus’s definitions are in line; ensure other pedagogical best practices related to the complexity of writing and writing instruction; visit colleagues’ classrooms to talk with their students about the writing process, ESL/L2 issues, or even a specific issue such as APA documentation. Through the CTLA and on my own volition, I have developed and delivered several informal workshops on grading and responding to student writing, crafting more effective writing assignments, and grading with Canvas. I have also attended department and school meetings with other units on campus (such as the Schools of Nursing and Education) to address the issues they see in student writing. I helped the Director of the Writing Center revise the Writing Center’s tutor report forms and student referral forms, and I am also responsible for performing the Writing Center Director’s annual evaluation.

Table Talks at IU Kokomo

In the fall of 2015, prompted in part by the data gathered by our campus’s National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and by my own experiences in the classroom, I developed Table Talks at IU Kokomo, a project in enriching student learning and engaging with faculty colleagues across campus that is important to me and my overall teaching philosophy. Table Talks is an exclusive opportunity for students to sit down with a panel of select faculty over lunch to discuss challenging, contentious, and sometimes controversial topics outside of the more hierarchical, often grade-driven structure of the classroom. Shortly after developing the idea, I was joined by a colleague in Communication Arts with whom I now co-produce our events. As of the summer of 2017, Table Talks has held nine events on topics ranging from the high costs of college and the intersections of belief and knowledge to discussions of gender and identity in the workplace and even “fake news” and the automotive history of Kokomo, Indiana. I also maintain an active group page for Table Talks on Facebook and Canvas where we post relevant articles and podcasts, as well as announcements for upcoming events. VCAA Dr. Mark Canada has twice commended us for our success with engaging students, and I have uploaded these emails to the eDossier system in the “Unsolicited Notes from Students” folder.

Faculty Fellow – Student Success Academy

In the Spring of 2017, after being nominated by my chair, I was selected by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA) at IU Kokomo to be a Faculty Fellow in the Student Success Academy, a relatively-new teaching initiative on our campus that trains faculty in best practices for promoting student success, engagement, and retention in first-year courses such as ENG-W 131/132. Faculty Fellows in this program participate in CTLA programming, act as guest speakers, present at conferences, and offer workshops, webinars, and other activities to promote student success, implement new innovations into their classroom practices, and share their research with faculty campus-wide. 

Basic Online Developer’s Certificate

In 2013, I earned my Basic Online Developer’s Certificate from the CTLA by completing all required coursework, including the extensive Universal Design Guidelines course for student accessibility. I was also an enthusiastic early-adopter of Canvas, and I have helped many faculty—both adjunct faculty and resident faculty colleagues—navigate the complexities of Canvas for their own courses, in both online and face-to-face formats.

Advance College Project (ACP)

In the fall of 2014, I assumed my one-year role as IU’s ACP site visitor for the north-central Indiana region. This responsibility taught me a great deal about how ENG-W 131 is taught in Indiana high schools, and it put me into regional high school classrooms where I was able to meet and respond to questions about IU Kokomo and our first-year writing courses. I am still active in the statewide ACP program through IU Bloomington, and I plan to attend their annual summer workshop in July 2017.

KEY Taskforce and REAL Criteria Subcommittee Member

I am an active member of both the KEY Taskforce and the REAL Criteria subcommittee (Record of Experiential and Applied Learning). Both of these valuable activities have allowed me to shape academic programs and policy at the campus level, including reshaping our first-year programs and course offerings for incoming freshmen in our Rethinking the First Year (RFY) Initiative.

Core Transfer Library (CTL) Reviewer

As CTL Reviewer (2014 – Present), I am responsible for reviewing numerous syllabi for both creative writing and professional writing courses from institutions that transfer students to IU Kokomo (and vice versa). Our goal is to ensure the course criteria from these institutions meet the curriculum standards for these same courses at IU Kokomo.

Unsolicited Notes and Emails from Students

I have uploaded nine unsolicited messages from students in the “Unsolicited Notes from Students” in the eDossier system. Several of these emails specifically note my effective “teaching style” and my ability to engage students both in and outside of the classroom. Two of these emails are notes of support and appreciation of Table Talks from VCAA Dr. Mark Canada.

(4) Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

I have participated in a variety of SoTL activities, including researching and writing two collaborative research studies on both “ends,” so to speak, of the college spectrum: from first-year college students to graduate students in an interdisciplinary MA program. The first study is a qualitative examination of graduate student writing pedagogy in so-called “hybrid” courses (i.e., courses with both an undergraduate and graduate enrollment); this piece has been accepted after two rounds of major revisions and is forthcoming in late 2017 pending successful negotiations with the publisher). The most recent study, which was accepted for publication with minor revisions in August 2017, provides an overview of student gains in information literacy in first-year writing and communication (speech) classes like ENG-W 131 and SPCH-S 121. I have also given five teaching-related presentations at large national and international pedagogy conferences, and coordinated/presented at a statewide academic conference for writing teachers in both college and K-12. (These revisions have been made and the article has been resubmitted as of early-September 2017; the expected publication date of this study is mid-2018.)

After teaching my first graduate class in Spring 2013 (ENG-W 368/LBST-D 511: Research Methods and Materials), I grew increasingly interested in researching graduate student writers. Much scholarly attention has been devoted to the study of writing, writing pedagogy, and writing curricula at the undergraduate level (thanks largely to the work of scholars in rhetoric and composition studies), but relatively few studies heretofore have taken into account the graduate student writing experience, particularly at the master’s level. This is especially evident in the case of “hybrid” courses—that is, courses with both undergraduate and graduate student enrollments—which are fast becoming a fixture at many colleges and universities, including IU Kokomo.

By means of recorded and transcribed interviews with nine current or recent graduate students from IU Kokomo and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, this study contributes to our understanding of (1) graduate student writing expectations in hybrid courses, (2) available institutional and pedagogical supports for graduate student writing, and (3) graduate students’ experiences with writing pedagogy and training more broadly. Given the breadth and diversity of graduate student responses represented in this study, results emphasize themes that (1) involved the greatest number of graduate student voices and (2) offered the most provocative questions for scholars and teachers of graduate student writers. The study concludes with a call for a reconsideration of how we teach graduate writing and the role of hybrid courses in the master’s curriculum. This article has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming book that is slated for publication in late 2017. Most importantly, doing this research has given me a new set of strategies and perspectives with which to work as I continue to teach graduate-level courses, particularly those that have to do with the teaching of writing, as I am slated to do in the fall of 2018. I look forward to returning to this research and using it in future courses.

Working with three other colleagues from across campus as the Information Literacy Assessment Team (ILAT) on a large-scale study of information literacy in first-year classes, our team submitted a study to the journal Assessment Update, which was serendipitously accepted at the end of August 2017. This collaborative study provides a data-rich, longitudinal examination of information literacy assessment in ENG-W 131 and SPCH-S 121 on the IU Kokomo campus. The Information Literacy Assessment Team (ILAT) was pleased to learn of our acceptance so close to the deadline for this dossier.

Peer-Reviewed SoTL Publications

Henderson, Brian R. and Paul Cook. “Voicing Graduate Student Writing Experiences: A Study of Hybrid Courses at Two Master’s-level, Regional Institutions.” Graduate Writing Across the Disciplines: Identifying, Teaching, and Supporting. Eds. Trixie Smith and Katie Manthey. Fort Collins, CO: WAC Clearinghouse, 2017. Print. (In press: forthcoming in 2017.) Please click here for our provisional acceptance email.

He, Yan, Paul Cook, Chris Darr, and Polly Boruff-Jones. “Assessing Information Literacy on a Regional Campus.” Assessment Update (2018): Print. (Accepted in August 2017; forthcoming in mid-2018.) Please click here for our provisional acceptance email.

SoTL Presentations

  • In March 2015 and April 2016, I presented papers at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Tampa, Florida and Houston, Texas, respectively. Both of these presentations focused on writing pedagogy, the teaching of writing, and issues related to Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines (WAC/WID). CCCC is the international flagship conference for rhetoric and composition studies, and as such has a year-to-year acceptance rate of around 10 to 15% for contributed talks.
  • In April 2014, I presented for the first time at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in Philadelphia on a panel that included Peter McLaren, a well-known critical pedagogy theorist and scholar. AERA is a national interdisciplinary research association for scholars who conduct educational research.
  • In September of 2016, I researched active reading pedagogy for K-12 and college students and presented a workshop on teaching students to read critically at IUPUI’s Disciplinary Pathways to Learning conference in Indianapolis. I recruited a colleague in philosophy to help with the workshop and several adjunct writing faculty and full-time faculty from IU Kokomo also attended the conference. I was also a member of the six-person committee of IU writing directors who organized and put on this statewide conference for teachers of writing.
  • Collaborating with colleagues in Communication Arts and the IU Kokomo Library, the “Information Literacy Assessment Team” (ILAT) developed a longitudinal study of information literacy assessment in ENG-W 131 and SPCH-S 121. In October 2016, we presented the findings from our pilot surveys at IUPUI’s annual Assessment Institute, and I began transforming our presentation into a publishable manuscript. (We also presented a revised version of this presentation at the 3rd annual Faculty Research Symposium at IU Kokomo in March 2017.) In June 2017, we submitted this manuscript to Assessment Update and the article has been provisionally accepted with a probable publication date of mid-2018. This valuable research on assessing how and where our students get their information serves all academic areas at IU Kokomo.


Service Statement (2012-2017)

On pages 5-6, the Indiana University Kokomo School of Humanities and Social Sciences Promotion and Tenure Criteria state the following guidelines concerning promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor if an evaluation of satisfactory is being sought in the category of service. They are defined as follows:

  1. Minimum accepted standards in service for purposes of Tenure and Promotion require the candidate’s service contributions to reflect a consistent pattern of service activity at least at the departmental and campus levels. Note, service is judged by its quality; whether a faculty member received release time or possessed an administrative appointment for such service is not relevant when judging the quality of service. Specifically, administrative service is vital to the function of the department, campus, and university, and its function should be judged by its impact just as any other service: administrative service should neither be privileged nor discounted because of its nature. (See section 3.1.2 of the Department of Humanities Annual Evaluation and Promotion and Tenure Guidelines for the types of evidence to use to support satisfactory in service.)

My record of service exceeds these minimum standards through a variety of service accomplishments to my department, my school, my campus, the IU system, and my profession/discipline. My service activities have mainly been focused on service to my department and campus, though I have also performed significant system-wide service for IU and service to my profession through a variety of professional organizations. Finally, I am active in several non-academic recreational/community organizations in Indiana, including the Club Kokomo Roadrunners, Indy Runners, IndyCOG, and the Hoosier Canoe and Kayak Club. I have also assisted Jason VanAlstine with his duties as cross-country team head coach at IU Kokomo. I get a great deal of satisfaction from pursuing various service opportunities on campus, and I look forward to continuing my strong record of service to IU Kokomo as an Associate Professor of English.

Service to the University, School, and Department

Director of Writing (Campus-wide and IU system-wide service)

My duties and responsibilities as Director of Writing tend to fall into two broad categories: teaching-related and service-related. I have already addressed the teaching-related aspects of this position in the Teaching Section of this dossier, so here I will briefly discuss the service-related activities this position entails. As far as service duties, I am responsible for

  • staffing and scheduling all sections of ENG-W 131 and 132 (between 25 and 30 sections per semester on average—30 total in Fall 2017), which includes recruiting, interviewing, and training new adjuncts each year to meet the growth the writing program (and the campus) have experienced in the last five years;
  • handling student complaints and plagiarism cases;
  • meeting several times per semester via conference call/Skype with other writing directors within the IU system and spearheading various initiatives;
  • serving on subcommittees composed of other IU system writing directors, and making sure that IU Kokomo’s writing program is in accordance with statewide mandates and goals;
  • frequently contacting instructors with updates regarding Canvas, Turnitin.com, workshops, textbook issues, teaching ideas, and other issues;
  • choosing appropriate textbooks for first-year writing and working with textbook publishers and the Barnes and Noble bookstore at IU Kokomo to coordinate textbook adoptions each year;
  • developing assessment surveys to receive feedback from writing faculty;
  • coordinating assessment measures for first-year writing courses; and
  • providing leadership, direction, and a coherent pedagogical vision for the writing program.

As Director of Writing, I am also a regular attendee at Administrative Council meetings at IU Kokomo, and my position frequently includes me in campus-wide discussions of retention, student success, technology requirements (e.g., laptops, computer lab space, etc.), and the coordination of Freshman Learning Community (FLCs) sections of ENG-W 131. I volunteer to teach ENG-W 131 in an FLC nearly every fall—and I often teach ENG-W 132 in the Spring or Summer—so that I can continue to work with our first-year students and enrich my professional understanding of how to help this population of students achieve success.

In Fall 2017, I began my fourth year as Director of Writing at IU Kokomo, and this year I will continue to focus on some of the strategic priorities I pursued in 2016:

  1. Further training and developing our core adjunct faculty, which includes hosting our annual summer workshop, working one-on-one with adjunct faculty via email and face-to-face interactions, conducting classroom observations of teaching and writing up teaching observations, researching best practices for the teaching of writing, distributing announcements and teaching resources via Canvas, and developing a series of Brown Bag workshops on various elements related to the teaching of writing and the writing process (e.g., responding to student writing and using Canvas);
  2. spearheading system-wide initiatives such as the Writing Pathways to Disciplinary Learning Conference I helped to organize in September 2016 at IUPUI (*10 IU Kokomo faculty, including several of our adjunct writing faculty, attended this interdisciplinary writing conference);
  3. developing appropriate assessment measures to evaluate program-wide student learning, including an ongoing collaborative research project on information literacy assessment with Communication Arts and the Library—this ongoing assessment and research project serves the entire English and Language Studies department and its assessment of its General Education and Program-wide learning outcomes;
  4. and serving on campus-wide academic ad hoc committees, such as the Laptop Initiative and the REAL Criteria subcommittee of the KEY Taskforce.

Secretary of Faculty Senate (Campus-wide Service)           

My role as Secretary of Faculty Senate, a position I held for two years from May 2014 to May 2016, requires a full accounting of the business of the Senate body, as well as regular email announcements to faculty regarding meetings, documents, updates to the Canvas site, etc. Since I was Secretary during the shift from Oncourse to Canvas, I also had the opportunity to migrate all of the files and materials into the new learning management suite (LMS), using a new file organizational system. I have attended all meetings of the Faculty Senate since taking office as secretary in 2014, and I attended each meeting with the Chancellor and various off-campus dignitaries, such as IU’s Executive Vice Chancellor John Applegate. 

English Program Review Committee Member (Departmental Service)

In 2015, I served as a member of the English Program Review Committee along with two other colleagues in the English Program. This was a large-scale task that required a great deal of research and data-gathering, as well as meetings, multiple drafts, revisions, and rewrites of the Self-Study and other documents. The Review was a crucial step in our growth from an academic Program to an academic Department in 2016. Each member of the committee shared equal responsibility for research, drafting, and revising of the Self-Study. I attended all meetings of the Review Committee and participated in the on-campus portion of the Review, which included the entire English program. (Click the heading above for a link to the complete Review document.)

KEY Taskforce Committee Member (Campus-wide service)

Since its inception, I have been an active participant in the KEY Taskforce Committee. I have drafted and designed documents, crafted unique travel experiences for students (such as the Senior Sojourn to Bradford Woods in November 2017), and incorporated experiential learning opportunities and activities into my courses. Currently I am drafting the English and Language Studies Department’s KEY brochure for prospective students.

REAL (Record of Experiential and Applied Learning) Criteria Committee Member (Campus-wide service)

The REAL Criteria Taskforce Committee has been instrumental in developing the process and the criteria by which individual academic units can propose an experiential learning activity to be included on their students’ official academic transcripts. In addition to meeting several times each semester since early 2017, this committee has also drafted and developed numerous documents, one of which can be accessed by clicking here.

Search Committees (School and departmental service)

In the last five years, I have served on five successful search committees at IU Kokomo—in the case of our Department’s hire in American Literature, we were successful in hiring our first choice out of nearly 300 candidates—and I recently completed my service as the chair of the search committee for a new Visiting Lecturer in English Composition/ESL with the successful hire of Lori Bruns.

  • Chair, Visiting Lecturer in English (first-year writing and ESL/L2, 2017)
  • Assistant Professor of English (American Literature, 2014)
  • Visiting Lecturer in English (first-year writing, 2013)
  • Assistant Professor in Communication Arts (Journalism and Social Media, 2013)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor in Communication Arts (Journalism and Social Media, 2013)

Other Committees and Service Activities (Department, Campus, and School)

Secretary of the IU Kokomo Chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors)

“Cream & Crimson” Scholarship Day Interviewer

Online Course Reviewer for Advanced Technical Writing (ENG-W 321)

“7 for 70” Anniversary committee member

Field Review Board member

From the Well House Review Board member

Student Research Symposium developer, facilitator, and judge

Institutional Review Board (IRB) member

Committee on Evaluating Teaching member

Website liaison/content developer for English program

Adjunct Faculty Curriculum Developer and Summer Training leader

Annual attendee of Adjunct Appreciation Night Dinner and Teaching Workshop

Writing Awards Judge for the ELS Department’s High School Writing Awards

Other Statewide- and System-wide Service (Indiana University)  

IU Directors of Writing System-wide Committee

Second-level Writing Course Competency System-wide Subcommittee (IU Directors of Writing)

Juror for Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (central and southern Indiana region)

Conference Organizer and Facilitator at IUPUI’s Writing Pathways to Disciplinary Learning Conference (statewide conference)

Advance College Project (ACP) Site Visitor for 15 sites

Core Transfer Library (CTL) Reviewer for Creative Writing and Technical Writing

Service to the Profession

Professional & Editorial Service (Journals)   

Reviewer for The SoJo Journal: Educational Foundations and Social Justice Education

External Reviewer for Composition Studies

Editorial Board Member, Burningword

Book Review Editor, Itineration: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Rhetoric, Media, and Culture         

Service to the Community

I am active in several non-academic recreational/community organizations in Indiana, including the Club Kokomo Roadrunners, Indy Runners, IndyCOG, and the Hoosier Canoe and Kayak Club. I have also assisted Jason VanAlstine with his duties as cross-country team head coach at IU Kokomo, and I have participated on the IU Kokomo team each year since 2014 at the annual “Runnin’ the Shores” 5K fundraiser hosted by St. Vincent’s Hospital in Kokomo, Indiana. I am a regular attendee and supporter of IU Kokomo athletic events, and in Fall 2016, I acted alongside IU Kokomo students in a stage production of the play You Can’t Take It with You (Dir. Joann Kaiser).

In short, I get a great deal of satisfaction from pursuing various service opportunities both on and off campus, and I look forward to continuing my strong record of service to IU Kokomo as an Associate Professor of English.