ENG-W 600: Mindfulness, Misinformation, & Media in Composition Studies (Special Topics Course in R/C)


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

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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.

ENG-W 210: Fake News & Democracy in the Digital Age (Literacy & Public Life)

“If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1889)

What does an educated person need to know about information and news, opinion and fact in the digital age? This is the guiding question that will lead our exploration of so-called “fake news,” disinformation, misinformation, and other forms of problematic information this term. As we are often reminded, we now inhabit an increasingly complex and confusing hyper-fast media landscape, where traditional forms of journalism and reporting have been radically reshaped and even supplanted by emerging forms of digital media. This course will give you the tools to engage intelligently in the major issues of our time; to analyze media of all kinds; to parse out the subtle distinctions between various kinds of problematic information; and to find credible, carefully-researched, and accurate journalism, news, and opinion on a variety of topics.

Learning Outcomes

This course will help you

  • Develop a broad sense of literacy, which in this course means the capacity to think, read, and write about complex ideas and their historical, socio-cultural, and political dimensions;
  • Apply your developing literacy to public life and what it means to be an engaged and well-informed citizen of a democracy;
  • Speak and write intelligently and confidently about the historical, cultural, economic, and political development of “fake news,” misinformation, disinformation, satire, “culture jamming,” and other forms of problematic information;
  • Develop and support a compelling argument concerning fake news and problematic information as an idea in your own experience and research;
  • Analyze media artifacts in order to understand how they “work”;
  • Develop a basic understanding of how technology (and especially digital media) have changed how people get news, share ideas, and learn about the world and the social and cultural impact thereof;
  • Recognize and understand the multidisciplinary nature of a concept like “fake news” and its connection to major questions in epistemology (i.e., the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge and various theories about how humans can know, where our opinions come from, how we learn, etc.);
  • Read and understand challenging academic texts such as scholarly articles and monographs; and
  • Learn how to parse out the often subtle distinctions between various kinds of problematic information and where/how to find credible, carefully-researched, and accurate news and information of all kinds.

Click here for the Course Syllabus; check back soon for course materials, handouts, projects, a full list of course readings/resources, and student work.


Web Resources and Credible Journalism

In this space, you will find links to some of my favorite web resources for news, opinion, and research. Feel free to add your own materials to this space and share with the rest of us.

Truth Decay (Rand Corporation)

More than a catchy title, this comprehensive report examines the trends that fuel the American public’s growing distrust of facts, science, and traditional knowledge institutions: “an 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 lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information” (from the website).


1A is a terrific news and information podcast from NPR. Perhaps my favorite show is the weekly “Friday News Roundup”: a 90-minute show that brings together some of the country’s top journalists, scholars, activists, politicians, and community leaders to discuss the biggest stories of the week (includes coverage of national and world politics).

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources 

This is the Google doc that started it all: Dr. Melissa Zimdar’s massive list of popular “fake news” sites and helpful compendium of tips to avoid being duped.


Independent, non-profit news source that produces some of the most trustworthy reporting anywhere. From their website: ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

Frontline (PBS.org)

Frontline produces award-winning investigative journalism and documentary films.

Fake News Course Reading List 

This Medium post, by a University of Southern California writing professor, is a useful list of readings on all-things “fake news.” Also includes links to other helpful resources around the web.

Data & Society

From the website: The issues that Data & Society seeks to address are complex. The same innovative technologies and sociotechnical practices that are reconfiguring society – enabling novel modes of interaction, new opportunities for knowledge, and disruptive business paradigms – can be abused to invade people’s privacy, provide new tools of discrimination, and harm individuals and communities.

NYT’s The Daily

I really like this little podcast. Every weekday morning around 5:30am the news “drops” on my smartphone in a nice, tidy 20-25 minute package. I usually listen while I’m getting ready for school.


If you haven’t heard of Snopes, you haven’t been paying attention. Dating back to the early days of the web, Snopes.com is the brainchild and labor of love of David Mikkelson, a folklorist, new media guru, and urban legend expert. It is considered by many to be the best “debunking” site for urban legends and fake news on the Internet today. Snopes.com is as much an invaluable resource as it is a really fun read.

ENG-G 301: History of the English Language

When I was first asked to teach this course, it was because of student need: a student in another degree program was getting ready to graduate and s/he needed a course in linguistics to complete the program’s degree requirements. I was happy to oblige, particularly since researching and developing this course gave me the opportunity to reach back to the early days of my graduate training. Then, as a young MA student, I briefly thought that I would perhaps pursue a career in sociolinguistics. Studying under Tom Nunnally, a linguist and scholar of Southern speech at Auburn University, I took several seminars in both the history of the English language and linguistic diversity in the Southeastern US; I even presented a research paper at SECOL at the University of Alabama—the first conference presentation of my career.

So I was excited to teach and develop this course, though I knew it would need to perform several crucial pedagogical functions: students would likely have never taken a course in linguistics or language history prior to this one, even among the English majors, so I decided to spend the first several weeks of the semester acclimating students to the basic tools and concepts of language study. I also wanted to give students an overall framework for the course that would make sense to virtually any second- or third-year college student; I chose to arrange the bulk of the rest of the term as a more or less strict chronology of the history of the English language, from Old English to the present day. Students also developed teaching demonstrations in pairs that allowed them to explore some specific concept in linguistics or in the history of English.

Finally, it was important to me that students have the tools and the space to reflect on how language and power are inextricably connected in practical ways in society, especially as it relates to the ongoing war(s) over Standard American English (SAE) and various “English-only” movements in US culture. To this end, and using a wide variety of exercises and multi-modal texts (including podcasts, film, and an essay by the late David Foster Wallace on language, power, and the politics of dictionary-making), we examined linguistic variation in contemporary English speech patterns via the documentary film Do I Sound Gay? (Dir. Thorpe, 2014), Rosina Lippi-Green’s analysis of linguistic prejudice in animated Disney feature films, and an historical overview of the so-called “Ebonics” debates from the 1990s over students’ rights to use African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the classroom.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop an understanding of the history of the English language, from its origins to the digital age, and explore its spread over the globe in the 20th century;
  • Learn the basic concepts of structural linguistics;
  • Explore an area of linguistics scholarship in more detail;
  • Develop active reading and study skills that transfer to other college-level courses.
  • Explore the sub-field of sociolinguistics and linguistic/dialectical variation;
  • Develop an understanding of how language and linguistic variation (i.e., differences in how we speak) can be mapped onto power-relations among people and groups of people throughout history and today.

Course Evaluation Summaries (Quantitative)

The highest possible score in each category is a 5.00 = “Strongly Agree”; the lowest possible score is 1.00 = “Strongly Disagree.”

ENG-G 301: History of the English Language Spring

2017 (33411)

1.)    The course was well organized. 3.80
2.)    The course objectives were clear to the students. 4.00
3.)    There was general agreement between announced course objectives and what was actually taught. 4.20
4.)    The instructor explained the subject clearly. 4.50
5.)    The instructor summarized the major points in lecture or discussion. 4.90
6.)    The instructor made effective use of class time. 3.70
7.)      The instructor was well prepared for class meetings. 4.10
8.)      The amount of reading was appropriate for the course. 4.20
9.)      In relation to other courses of equal credits and level, the workload in this course was appropriate. 4.20
10.)   The amount of material covered in the course was reasonable. 3.80
11.)   The course required more time and effort than others at this level. 3.60
12.)   The grading system for the course was clearly explained. 4.40
13.)   Grades were assigned fairly and impartially. 4.10
14.)   The instructor collected enough evidence for valid grading. 4.20
15.)   The exams accurately assessed what I have learned in this class. 3.80
16.)   The instructor showed a genuine interest in students 4.00
17.)   The instructor was readily available for consultation with students. 4.20
18.)   The instructor stimulated my thinking. 4.00
19.)   The instructor stimulated class discussion. 4.30
20.)   The instructor promoted an atmosphere conducive to learning. 4.30
21.)   Compared to other instructors I have had, this instructor is outstanding. 4.10
22.)   Compared to other courses I’ve taken, I learned more in this course. 3.90

Course Evaluations (Qualitative)

Spring 2017

“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.”

“The syllabus was out of sync with what was taught for most of the semester.”

“I learned about new ways to conceive of language and English.”

“I liked the origin of the English language the most.”

“I liked the amount of reading the least.”

“The most valuable thing I learned was how to break down large chunks of reading much easier.”

“The ideas were stimulating.”

“I learned the power of the English language.”

“A lot of the info was interesting.”

“I really loved the modern subjects that we covered in this class. I understand the need to begin with OE [Old English], but most of the discussion was about older English.”

“I thought pretty much everything we covered was the most valuable, because language builds upon itself and it was all new content for me.”

“The course has a lot of information that is very useful for education majors and English majors, and Dr. Cook delivers a knowledgeable and charismatic account of that information.”

“The readings are very dense when combined with a full-time schedule of all 300-level classes, it is nearly overwhelming.”

“The information helped pass my content test for education certification.

“[What I liked most about the course and/or the instructor was] how open-ended the class was.”


Click here for the course syllabus.

Research Statement (2012-2017)

The Indiana University Kokomo School of Humanities and Social Sciences Promotion and Tenure Criteria state the following guidelines concerning research for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor if an evaluation of satisfactory is being sought in the category of research. Minimum accepted standards in scholarship for faculty producing scholarly works for purposes of Tenure and Promotion are:

Having at least two, but typically three, refereed publications (can be in press) since the last appointment in rank at IU Kokomo; and, other evidence of or dedication to research as noted in section 3.1.2 of the Department of Humanities Annual Evaluation and Promotion and Tenure Guidelines.

My diverse research interests and background in rhetoric and composition studies have given me the tools to research and publish in a variety of academic areas, from articles on Writing across the Disciplines/Writing in the Disciplines issues and writing pedagogy to analyses of neoliberal economic rationality and academic labor. I exceed the minimum criteria for satisfactory in research as I have

  • 3 peer-reviewed publications (in addition to the SoTL article discussed in the Teaching Section);
  • 1 review essay in a highly-regarded journal in my discipline;
  • 2 article manuscripts currently under review;
  • 8 conference presentations (in addition to the 5 SoTL presentations listed in the Teaching Section);
  • 2 articles and numerous multi-modal book reviews for which I have served as a reviewer;
  • 1 republished, edited version of one of my publications on InsideHigherEd.com (forthcoming in Fall 2017);
  • 2 well-received Special Topics Sessions on “Politics and Pedagogy” at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA); and
  • 2 Grant-in-Aid awards for scholarly research (awarded on the basis of merit).

Peer-Reviewed Publications

“First-year Composition Should Be Skipped.” Bad Ideas about Writing. Eds. Drew M. Loewe and Cheryl E. Ball. Morgantown, WV: Digital Publishing Institute, 2017. Print and Web. (Forthcoming in 2017.)

“Notes from the Margins: WAC/WID and the Institutional Politics of Place(ment).” Across the Disciplines: A Journal of Language, Learning, and Academic Writing 11 (2014): n. pag. Web. 

“Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Academic Entrepreneurship: Why Graduate Students Will Never Just Take Your Word for It.” Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor 21 (2013): 25-39. Web.

Review Essay

Rev. of “Composition in the Age of Austerity,” pres. by Tom Fox, Tony Scott, and Nancy Welch. Chair. Lil Brannon. Conference on College Composition and Communication Annual Convention. JW Marriott, Indianapolis, IN. 20 Mar. 2014. Conference presentation. Kairos 19.1 (2014): n. pag., Web.

Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts under Review

Darr, Chris and Paul Cook. “Rhetoric, Politics, and the Ideological State Apparatus in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings.” (Currently under review at Communication Law Review.)

Yan He, Paul Cook, Chris Darr, and Polly Boruff-Jones. “Assessing Information Literacy on a Regional Campus.” (Currently under review at Assessment Update.)

Research Presentations (*This list does not include Presentations on Teaching or Pedagogical Research)

“Assessing Information Literacy in General Education on a Regional Campus.” IU Kokomo Faculty Research Symposium. Kokomo, IN: 2017. (Co-researchers: Yan He, Polly Boruff-Jones, and Dr. Chris Darr.)

Serial: What a Podcast Can Tell Us about How We Live Now.” IU Kokomo Faculty Research Symposium. Kokomo, IN: 2015.

“Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Academic Entrepreneurship: Why Graduate Students Will Never Just Take Your Word for It.” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. Boise, ID: 2014.

“Notes from the Margins: WAC/WID and the Institutional Politics of Place(ment).” Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. San Diego, CA: 2013.

“Pedagogue or Provocateur? Walking the Line in the Neoliberal U.” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. Vancouver, WA: 2013.

“Altered Politics: The Other in Big-Budget Hollywood Action Films of the Cold War Era.” New England American Studies Association Annual Conference. Mashantucket, CT: 2013.

“Jobs, Networks, and the Democratization of Information.” Networked Humanities: From Within and Without the University. Lexington, KY: 2013.

“Passivity, Scandal, and Teaching: The Rhetoric of Passive Voice.” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. Boulder, CO: 2012.

Reviewer of Articles for Journals

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

Reviewer for Composition Studies

Editorial Board Member, Burningword

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


For the last five years, my research agenda has been nothing if not eclectic in its targets and interventions. From my first article as an IU Kokomo professor on academic labor and the discourse on academic “advice-knowledge” (the latter a term of my own coinage) to my most recent submission, an essay in a forthcoming anthology of rhet-comp experts called Bad Ideas about Writing, I consider both good fortune—one might even say kairos—and eclecticism to be the current themes of my research interests and scholarly output. My purpose in this narrative is to briefly discuss each publication, its scope and significance, and how it fits into the larger ambitions of my future research itineraries.

Researching and writing a dissertation that traversed several disciplinary sites has given me the tools to embark on an eclectic and wide-ranging research itinerary. Rhetoric and composition’s ongoing disciplinary crisis was the nominal target of the project, but I also explored such extra-disciplinary areas as philosophy, new media, the political-economic doctrine of neoliberalism, contemporary political theory, and academic labor and the future of collective action within (and outside of) the university. I credit the dissertation-writing process for providing me with not only a sharp sense of where my future research trajectories might take me, but also the necessary tools and experience to realize these research plans.

My first publication after arriving at IU Kokomo was entitled “Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Entrepreneurship.” In this article, which was published in Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor in 2013, I suggest that even with all of the advice offered up to graduate students about navigating the increasingly unlikely transition from graduate school to full-time academic employment, few scholars have scrutinized the nature and function of this advice, particularly in terms of how it influences individual jobseekers and students. The rest of the article examines the largely unexamined nature of academic advice, or what I call academic “advice-knowledge.” Taking a theoretical perspective informed by the later works of Michel Foucault and more recent critiques of neoliberalism and US employment culture, this article explores how advice-knowledge constructs, constrains, narrows, and normalizes the way graduate students understand themselves as individuals constantly in need of introspective self-work in order to remain, if not employed, then at least employable.

In 2014, drawing on my previous job experience as Director of Writing and WAC/WID coordinator at Cottey College, I published a manuscript in a special issue of Across the Disciplines: A Journal of Language, Learning, and Academic Writing on writing instruction at rural, regional, and satellite campuses. In this institutional autoethnography (IAE), I explore the dynamics of WPA and WAC/WID work within an exceedingly small, resolutely single-sex, and assuredly rural liberal arts campus ecology. Working within a theoretical framework informed by WAC/WID’s historical commitment to increasing literacy in students from diverse educational backgrounds and recent studies of “aspirational” colleges and universities, my goal in this piece is to reflect on my own experiences and connect these to larger concerns about WAC/WID’s vulnerability in rural SLACs. My exploration is structured around an interrogation of what happens when a rural college’s historical mission and lofty aspirations run up against (1) the philosophical constraints (self-) imposed by institutional identity; (2) the material limitations of location, institutional ecology, and faculty labor and expertise; and (3) the pedagogical realities of the underprepared students it serves. In short, this article explores how the very things that make Cottey unique—its historical commitment to women’s education, its diverse student population, and the inherent flexibility that comes with having an unusually small student body—are challenged by the dynamics of institutional identity and the intensifying scramble within higher education for resources, students, and prestige.

Also in 2014, I published a review essay of a fascinating panel I attended at that year’s Conference on College Composition and Communication. The panel, which was entitled “Composition in the Age of Austerity,” appealed to me in part because of my position as Director of Writing and my work with adjunct faculty, but also because of my previous research on academic labor issues. In this review essay, I run down the major points of all three panelists’ presentations, and then I suggest how central these broader economic and institutional concerns are to the work that faculty and researchers do and often take for granted.

Most recently, at the end of 2015, I submitted a manuscript to an exciting new anthology entitled Bad Ideas about Writing. My contribution, which is called “First-year composition (FYC) Should Be Skipped,” attempts to demolish the widespread idea that first-year writing is a course that lacks intellectual value or rigor. This particular collection, which includes some high-profile scholars in rhet-comp, is directed at a popular audience—parents, students, high school teachers and administrators—so I was especially gratified that my article was chosen for publication, which will occur in late 2017. My selection was also chosen to be reprinted on the national higher education website Insidehighered.com; this version will also appear later this year (2017).

I am scheduled to teach a course on Issues in Teaching Writing (ENG-W 400 / LBST-D 511) again in the next semester or two. Not only will my work with graduate student writers in hybrid-enrolled courses give me a critical perspective on this course, but my ongoing scholarly interests in the training of writing teachers also gives me the chance to help students engage this complex terrain from several angles. For several semesters now, I have been revising Chapter 5 of my dissertation, an essay entitled “The Terrain of TA Training: Re-encountering Theory and Practice.” In this essay, I argue that even though the discourse on TA training in rhetoric and composition studies is rife with calls to balance, bridge, or unite theory and practice in the training of writing teachers, we seem to have a difficult time articulating what such a project might do. Largely because we lack a robust conception of practice (or praxis), the tendency is to draw the line between theory and practice as boldly as possible, privilege theory over a vaguely-defined notion of practice, and then argue that reuniting the two is a fundamental prerequisite for administering a successful teacher-preparation program. Like the other elements of my research portfolio, my work in this area hearkens back to my dissertation project, and it continues to inform my day-to-day work as Director of Writing and as a frequent teacher of first-year writing.

But my research agenda continues to unfold in new and exciting ways, which I think is another strength of how I engage the research process. Since 2012, when I started at IU Kokomo, we have made several strong new hires in areas such as American Literature and Philosophy/Ethics; working in close proximity these new hires has injected a new sense of excitement and possibility into my own research agenda. Josh Mugg and I are currently developing a proposal to an interdisciplinary online journal entitled Fast Capitalism, and we hope to submit our piece sometime this semester. Working with yet another colleague in the School of Education, Tara Kingsley, I am also pursuing a project on the impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on Indiana K-12 public school policy. In just the last few months, I have submitted two other articles to journals, and both are collaborative studies. The first, which we recently submitted to the journal Assessment Update, is a longitudinal study of information literacy assessment in ENG-W 131 and SPCH-S 131 on the IU Kokomo campus. The second article is entitled “Rhetoric, Politics, and the Ideological State Apparatus in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings,” and this article is currently under consideration at Communication Law Review.

I also routinely teach Research Methods and Materials (ENG-W 368); without fail, every time I teach this course and work with students on their projects, I find a new interest or area to explore on my own.

As a final example of both my indebtedness to the growing research culture here on campus and my own contributions to that culture, I would like to briefly mention my work over the last several years with some of our finest students—those in our MALS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) program. I have directed three MALS thesis projects to their successful completion (Navi Vernon, Chad Wagoner, and Mary Kennelly). In addition to directing these three projects, which I am told is an unprecedented amount, I have also served on three other thesis committees: those of Greg Ogle, Scott Manthe, and Jesse Sopher.

Working on these projects allowed me to stretch and extend the boundaries of my own knowledge—working with one of my former graduate students, Chad Wagoner, on a subcultural analysis of the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the US, for example—and they have helped me to solidify and concretize my own previous research through the process of being a co-discoverer with the student. For an example of the latter, I would refer to my work with Navi Vernon on the emotional and affective dimensions of the writing process and its relations to therapy, my work with Greg Ogle on Second Life (a highly-interactive, online virtual world/simulation), and my work with Mary Kennelly on grading, evaluation, and pedagogy in the first-year writing classroom. Each of these projects could be seen as extensions of my own explorations as a graduate student and early-career academic: as a grad student I worked with affective writing pedagogy, for instance, and I have always been fascinated by the theory and practice of evaluating student writing. Both of these projects appeared on my radar at times that helped inform and further my own teaching in these areas, such as when I taught a grad-level course on Issues in Teaching Writing (ENG-W 400 / LBST-D 511) for the first time in the fall of 2013.

As for Greg’s thesis project, he was just finishing it up right around the same time that I was teaching an Honors Symposium on digital culture, so working so closely with Greg allowed me to interlace elements from what I was teaching with some of the truly meaningful explorations Greg was following out in his work with identity-formation and Second Life. Greg also continues to visit my courses to talk about his research when appropriate, such in Spring 2016 in my New Media Theory course (NMAT-G 411). My point, ultimately, is that I believe research—good research—to be the product of social interaction and the fundamental interactivity of all knowledge. So I will continue to pursue what I consider to be a collaborate research agenda, and I use that word “collaborative” in both a traditional sense and a more capacious one, as I will discuss more fully in the conclusion below.

My current solo research project is a revision of Chapter 5 of my dissertation, an essay entitled “The Terrain of TA Training: Re-encountering Theory and Practice.” In this essay, I argue that even though the discourse on TA training in rhetoric and composition studies is rife with calls to balance, bridge, or unite theory and practice in the training of writing teachers, we seem to have a difficult time articulating what such a project might do. Largely because we lack a robust conception of practice (or praxis), the tendency is to draw the line between theory and practice as boldly as possible, privilege theory over a vaguely-defined notion of practice, and then argue that reuniting the two is a fundamental prerequisite for administering a successful teacher-preparation program.

Finally, and on a broader note, I would like to add that my work has undoubtedly benefited from the growing research culture on campus and the concerted efforts that various students, faculty, and administrators have made to foster such an environment. I was honored to be recognized at the first and second Faculty Research Awards Ceremonies, I presented my own work at the Faculty Research Symposium in April 2015 and again in April 2017 as part of the Information Literacy Assessment Team, and for every year that I have been at IU Kokomo, I have been a strong advocate for and participant in the Undergraduate Research Symposium, formerly run by Netty Provost and now headed up by Erin F. Doss. Every year I send several students to this conference, which I think is a vitally important experience for both undergraduates and graduate students, and I suspect that this year will be no different. (Indeed, when I taught the Senior Capstone course in New Media Theory in 2016, I required these students to submit a proposal/abstract to the conference.) Finally, the Research Support Group for faculty has also helped to develop this research culture at IU Kokomo; as a matter of fact, I contributed an early draft of my latest manuscript for Bad Ideas about Writing to the group late in 2015, and the feedback I received was timely, substantive, and supportive.

As I look ahead, I hope that collaboration is the theme that continues to emerge from my research agenda. As I mentioned previously, I am already working with five other faculty members on four different projects, and I hope to identify other areas where such overlap between research agendas and abilities might occur with other faculty, staff, and students.