ATWP 500: Teaching Academic and Technical Writing

Writing may be one of the most complex activities human beings undertake, and even individuals who write a lot as part of their professional lives – including academics – can’t always explain how they get it done. What’s more, being able to write doesn’t necessarily mean that one can effectively teach writing. ATWP500: Teaching Academic and Technical Writing brings expert perspectives both to writing and the teaching thereof.

Rhetoric, Composition/Communication, and Writing Studies scholars investigate not only how writing works but also how we can most effectively help others learn to write. This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the foundations of Writing Studies as an academic discipline, in the process helping them to develop research-based approaches to teaching academic and technical writing.

Those who complete the class will be prepared to help students tackle writing projects as well as to lead classes designed to introduce students to university-level writing practices. Along the way, graduate students will have ample opportunities to think critically about themselves as teachers, scholars, and writers. All Humanities graduate students are welcome.

For more information, please contact Dr. Loren Gaudet .

Course description

ATWP500: Introduction to foundational and advanced theory and research related to writing studies as an academic discipline. Focus on rhetoric and composition studies. Emphasis on research-based approaches to academic and technical writing pedagogy. Exploration of questions about strategies for teaching writing. Development of and experimentation with pedagogical materials.

Course overview

In a small course (no larger than 15 students in a section), Humanities faculty graduate students will

  • Be introduced to foundational and advanced theory and research related to writing studies as an academic discipline (including a focus on rhetoric and composition studies);
  • Become familiar with research-based approaches to academic and technical writing pedagogy;
  • Engage in research to answer questions about strategies for teaching writing;
  • Develop and experiment with pedagogical materials including assignments, evaluation tools, and class outlines.

Balancing theory with practical application, this course will be especially helpful for any humanities graduate student planning a career that involves post-secondary teaching of courses that feature writing assignments. Additionally, graduate students who complete this course can develop a strong foundation in a field of study that complements their area of research or in which they might choose to specialize.

In the context of UVic, completion of this pass/fail, 1.5-unit, writing-intensive graduate course will prepare PhD students for teaching as an instructor of record for an ATWP class. It is also strongly recommended for both MA and PhD students serving as TAs for writing intensive courses. Beyond this institution, however, graduate students will benefit not only from formal training in teaching writing but also from an official course on their transcript documenting this training.

Learning outcomes

To develop familiarity with the history of writing studies as a field:

  • Explore the history of writing studies beginning with a survey of rhetorical theory;
  • Understand major approaches to teaching composition;
  • Learn about how writing courses are situated in various ways within educational institutions and in different national contexts.

To lay a solid foundation for encounters with research in the field of writing studies:

  • Become conversant with quantitative, qualitative, and theoretically informed research;
  • Survey major academic and professional vectors through which current research in the field of writing studies is developed and shared;
  • Engage with and respond critically to important and recent research;
  • Develop the ability to answer a question about the teaching of academic and technical writing through a systematic exploration of high-quality research.

To create connections between theory and practice:

  • Connect published scholarship in the field of writing studies to actual and future classroom experiences;
  • Develop effective teaching materials informed by research in the field of writing studies.

Sample assignments

By the end of this course, students will have the knowledge necessary to teach a university-level academic or technical writing course and/or a writing-intensive humanities course. In order to prepare for such work, students will complete the following:

  • Written responses to assigned readings;
  • Research project (comprised of a research proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a class presentation equivalent to a conference paper)
  • Teaching dossier/portfolio (including a writing pedagogy-focused statement of teaching philosophy, sample syllabus, and sample assignments)