Teaching Statement (2012-2017)

“[Dr. Cook] truly seemed to enjoy helping students learn & succeed (and was quite effective at doing so); [he] demystified grammatical rules that had plagued me since grade school.”

–anonymous student comment in Technical Editing (Fall 2012)

“Thank you for teaching me, Dr. Cook.”

–anonymous student comment in Research Methods & Materials (Spring 2013)

“This course is incredibly useful for any undergraduate student—it challenges the way we’ve always lived and looked at the world. Curiosity is a dying aspect of human life, and this class taught me to question everything. I cannot imagine having this class with anyone other than Paul Cook. He is the best, most helpful instructor I’ve had at IUK. He is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and facilitates excellent discussion and learning. I don’t know how he ended up teaching here instead of some Ivy League school, but I feel incredibly fortunate to have had him.”

–anonymous student comment in Literary Interpretation (Fall 2014)

“Every day was an academic adventure.”

–anonymous student comment in Technical Editing (Fall 2015)

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)

“I liked the content matter and the instructor’s enthusiasm about the subject. The instructor was always encouraging of class discussion and was incredibly knowledgeable.”

–anonymous student comment in History of the English Language (Spring 2017)

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.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s