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Teaching Philosophy and Sample Syllabus

Genevieve Garcia de Mueller

Teaching Philosophy

         I’ve been teaching writing for eleven years. I started as a high school teacher but for the

past six years I’ve taught college composition in its various forms and levels from

freshmen to doctoral students. Through these experiences I’ve developed some core

principles. My teaching philosophy is threefold: I want to find ways for my students (1)

to care about their writing, (2) to feel like their writing is important, and (3) to be able to

articulate their thoughts about writing.

         Before I describe how I accomplish the three goals, I’d like to first offer some examples

of feedback I’ve received on my student evaluations:

         · Dr. Garcia de Mueller is an excellent professor. She is always willing to

           work with you, and assist you with your writing. She is understanding and very

            helpful. Thank you for a great semester!

        · I love that this professor always came to class with a good attitude, had

           patience, and always helped out if we had questions. She is very down to earth,

           yet held high expectations.

         · She was an amazing professor. I really got a lot out of her class. Every

           article was interesting and offered real information. I would definitely take her again.

         What I find most helpful from these evaluations is that students want an instructor who is willing to help, has patience and understanding, but still maintains high expectations.

Students also want a course that feels relevant. When constructing a course I align my

goals with these self-reported needs from students.

         Students are more willing to engage in the classroom if they feel a sense of agency. They will care about their writing if they are active agents in determining what the aim of the

writing is and what that writing will look like. To this end, I have incorporated Asao

Inoue’s collaborative rubric building and community based assessment practices. First,

students read articles modeling the kind of writing we will be doing. Second, they read

articles articulating the purpose, aim, and overall genre features of that kind of writing.

Lastly, through class discussion informed by this reading students create the rubric and

assessment methods for their writing. Each student has a say in the kind of writing they

will do and how they will be assessed. I facilitate this conversation and offer my

suggestions pointing out ways to make the rubric fit the conventions of a given genre

while also incorporating student opinions. It’s a negotiation that works.

         Along with community based assessment I also employ community based research in

each course. For students to feel like their writing is important they have to see their

writing as a way to engage in activities they find essential to their lives. One way I do this

is to have students conduct research in their communities. The first phase of a project like

this is the personal narrative and the discourse community analysis. I have students

describe and analyze one discourse community they belong to pointing to specific ways

the community talks about important issues that affect them. The second phase is to have

students interview members of their community asking questions about these issues and

collaborating on possible solutions. Finally, students do academic research on these

issues and triangulate the data showing connections or conflicts between their personal,

community, and academic based interpretations of these issues. Sometimes this project

ends with proposing solutions to their City Council or writing letters to Congress.

         Assessment in my courses always begins with student self- reflection. I want students to

be able to articulate their thoughts about other people’s writing and their own. Student

self-reflection is based on the collaborative rubric and assessment models determined by

the students with my guidance. Students reflect on the creation of the rubric and

assessment models and then on their writing. They use key terms and concepts covered in

the class to talk about improvements and difficulties they have with their writing.

If by the end of my course students care about their writing, have improved strategies to

talk about writing, and feel like their writing is important then I feel like I’ve

accomplished my task for the semester.

Sample Syllabi

Undergraduate Fake News and Applied Discourse Analysis Course

         The upper division discourse analysis course is divided into three units: Defining

Fake News, Analysing Fake News, and Responding to Fake News. Each section centered

on ways to use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a mechanism for theorizing fake

news with the goal of analyzing the processes of meaning making in networks of

language. Fake news media served as our main network and our artifact for analysis.

During the first unit, students create definitions of key terms and concepts that

explain newsworthiness, news strategies, and news values with the aim of looking for

patterns in how news creators construct and spread effective fake news. The second unit

is devoted to analysing fake news in a CDA model using the rubric below adapted from

James Paul Gee.

FDA-ANA Questions for Analysis

         Unit Three centers on ways to process, react to, and respond to fake news. First,

the class tracks fake news articles on social media and then using Gee’s (2016) concept

of Framework Discourse Analysis (FDA) that focuses on understanding the frameworks

of meaning making of persons that oppose your viewpoints, students determined that

there are five effective strategies to combat the impact of fake news: 1. Explain the

difference between a fact and an opinion. 2. Make the bias of the writer clear. 3. Clearly

state what the consequences are of believing an argument. 4. Compare and contrast

consequences. 5. Focus on impact not intent. Students determined that responding to fake

news required all five steps and that during a response you often had to repeat steps

several times. Keep in mind that although the process might begin at explaining the

difference between fact and opinion and end with focusing on impact rather than intent,

most often students would go to any step when needed.

         In class and in online spaces, students practice the FDA-ANA process of

identifying, analyzing, and then responding to fake news. Gee calls for FDA to be used to

create “a better understanding of [our] own framework, learn better ways to argue for it

and explicate what it means, face new questions, and discover what parts of [someone

else’s] framework might not be working well for their own purposes, values, and their

own good and the good of others” (365). Gee’s focus on goodwill and collaboration

while maintaining truth and self conviction allowed for a framework that at once

condemned fake news but also considered differences of opinion and opportunities for

epistemological intersections.

You can view the reading list here:


Graduate Class on Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Research Methodologies

         In this class, we read, talk, write, and learn about different research methodologies and

theoretical frameworks of historical and contemporary significance within the

Humanities including Cultural Rhetorics, Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies,

ethnography, surveying, discourse analysis, and other qualitative frameworks. We will

also work to develop the techne of research – the how-to knowledge of conducting

contextual research according to certain methodologies. In addition, we will examine,

question, and theorize the motivations and biases that informed each methodology we

cover particularly how those biases are embedded in race, ethnicity, nationalism,

neoliberalism, citizenship, and misogyny. Collectively, this class is about the praxis of

research. The course is designed to introduce you to some major research trends, while

also preparing you to find and invent other approaches. Writing projects will include

meta-analyzing methods, contextualizing methods, and working towards writing a

thesis/dissertation proposal, a thesis/dissertation, or an article for publication.

         This class will not be about all of the available approaches to research. Instead, the course is designed to introduce you to some major research trends within the discipline, while also preparing you to find and invent other approaches.The course assignments are

designed to facilitate these objectives, but since you are all at different points in our

graduate careers, there will be many ways that these assignments will manifest.

You can find the syllabus here:

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