E.04: Negotiating Competing Curricular, Institutional, and Disciplinary Interests in Advanced Composition

Reviewed by Carie S. Tucker King, The University of Texas at Dallas (cxl085200@utdallas.edu)

Chair: Jill Davis, Montana State University
Speakers: Michelle Neely, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, “Promoting Metaknowledge in Advanced Composition: A Stepping Stone, but from Where to Where?”

Katherine Mack, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, “Advanced Composition: A Stepping Stone, but from Where to Where?”

Ann Amicucci, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, “Students’ Writing Selves: Positioning Non-Academic Literacy Practices in Advanced Composition.”

Marilee Brooks-Gillies, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, "'Rhetoric and Writing’ not ‘Rhetoric or Writing’: Negotiating Disciplinary Tensions and Pedagogical Choices”

I have written a new advanced rhetoric course for my university, but I was interested to see how these instructors created, analyzed, and focused advanced composition instruction at their university. I entered the room, which contained about 12 people; I was surprised at the small audience, as I thought this would be a very popular presentation. I found the presentation to be beneficial and was sorry that more people did not attend, so I decided to review the panel.

Marilee Brooks-Gillies began the panel by describing the 3000-level course that is required for all English majors and is also allowed in lieu of other students’ university writing portfolios. She addressed some of the issues that the course designers faced. For example, what should be our focus? Does this have meaning for rhetoricians? What content should we include? And could the course serve both English and other majors? She referenced other institutions and theories that related to the course development (Bawarshi, 2001; CCCC, 1967; Keene & Wallace, 1991; Wardle & Downs, 2007).

Ann Amicucci led a group from the audience in a skit about students’ struggles and instructors’ battles. She then led a discussion about out-of-class literacies: students finding writing in their fields, interviewing individuals outside the classroom, creating multi-modal assignments, and analyzing family members’ or friends’ uses of literacy. She shared the implications — to contextualize writing activities in students’ lives, to make transfer opportunities visible to students, and to recognize and discuss students’ writing histories and futures. Amicucci emphasized that instructors should “make transfer opportunities visible” — a practice I have been emphasizing with my own colleagues, so this hit home for me. She also included in her notes, “We should recognize and discuss students’ writing histories and futures.” (When she discussed ePortfolios, Michelle Neely would later state that we need to consider transfer as a rhetorical act.)

Neely then presented how she integrated ePortfolios into the course. She reminded us that pedagogy and assessment connect, and she encouraged us to consider that connection as we designed assignments.

She defined ePortfolios as a collection of student work presented electronically, usually in a web-based environment. She stated that it was a pedagogical tool to foster development, and it may be course-based or may evolve with students as they go through their degree to reflect their development. She shared some software suggestions and rubrics for assessment.

Neely then shared several ePortfolios with the group. She showed the contents that included “About Me,” a résumé, a statement of intent or purpose for the student (like a personal objective) related coursework, and a “Mind @ Work Analysis” (a final assignment for students to conduct their own primary research about workplace literacy).

She shared some of the issues, such as rhetorical theory versus vocational training and how to address that tension in course development, and she recognized that the ePortfolio contents requirements might hinder creativity for students.

I liked that the panel had attendees intermittently reflect (for 2–3 minutes) on their own university, courses, and experiences. They also shared a list of references, which they referenced throughout the presentation as they addressed theory, practice, and lessons that other instructors learned and shared.


Bawarshi, Anis. (2001). The ecology of genre. In Christian R. Weisser & Sidney I. Dobring (Eds.), Ecocomposition: Theoretical and pedagogical approaches (pp. 69–80). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Conference of College Composition and Communication. (1967, December). Guidelines and directions for college courses in advanced composition. College Composition and Communication, 18(5), 266–268.

Keene, Michael L., & Wallace, Ray. (1991). Advanced writing courses and programs. In Katherine H. Adams & John L. Adams (Eds.), Teaching advanced composition: Why and How (pp. 89–102). Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Wardle, Elizabeth, & Downs, Doug. (2007). Teaching about writing, righting misconceptions: (Re)envisioning first-year composition as introduction to writing studies. College Composition and Communication, 58(4), 552–582.

Created by RyanH. Last Modification: Tuesday 03 of January, 2017 22:37:33 UTC by ccccreviews.