Instructor Spotlight: Kim Broughton

When Kimberly Broughton started her graduate work at Purdue’s Department of English in the year 2016, as all graduate students, she took a three-credit Teaching Practicum course for two semesters. This practicum provides training and mentoring to new instructors, including guidance for responding to student writing, creating classroom activities, and developing curriculum. Along with the faculty leading these mentor groups, ICaP also provides an Assistant Mentor who assists the Professor during classroom time as well as two Technology Mentors who introduce instructors to various approaches for technology-aided teaching.

Broughton’s mentor was Dr. Thomas Rickert, Professor of English, a long time mentor for ICaP. Broughton said, “Dr. Rickert’s guidance was extremely helpful and played a very large part in me successfully completing my first year of teaching at Purdue.”

“From shifting my understanding of what it means to write and compose, to challenging the educational institution’s method of assessing students, Dr. Rickert not only assisted me in creating a sense of freedom in pursuing higher education but also for my students,” Broughton recounts.

This is the third year of teaching English 106 for Broughton. In past, Broughton taught English 106-E, where she collaborated in teaching with instructors from Purdue Polytechnic’s Tech 120 and Com 114. She helped her students understand that they are in an “integrated” classroom. She also had to co-teach students along with her two instructors which according to her was “a different teaching experience.”

“I was particularly excited to teach English 106-E because of my personal interest in digital platforms such as blogging, developing websites, and other tech-based communication,” said Broughton.

Broughton explained, “My Fall 2017 semester was challenging but very rewarding for various reasons. I had to adjust to new curriculum along with other expectations of this syllabus approach. However, I was able to work with students of Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute and focus on digital means of composing and that was exciting.”

After teaching English 106-E, Broughton is now back to teaching English 106, where she is implementing a rhetorical theory and research focussed syllabus that covers: visual analysis, research and argument, and visual production.

Upon answering a query regarding impact of English 106 in student’s life as scholar, Broughton said, “English 106 develops a solid foundation of critical thinking skills that will be conducive to the remainder of students’ trajectory at Purdue and helps students improve their writing skills and allows them to write by taking into consideration rhetorical factors and situations such as audience, diction, and context.”

She added, “while many often misconstrue English 106 as writing that solely focuses on grammar and mechanical matters, it actually teaches students to think analytically and strategically about how they compose every day through numerous avenues, and also how their lived experiences aren’t always a separate entity from their scholarly pursuit, but instead greatly contributes to their understanding of their studies.”

Instructor Spotlight: Victoria Ruiz

Victoria Ruiz: Navigating identities, culture, and performing rhetoric via English 106

ICaP instructor and rhetoric & composition doctoral student Victoria Ruiz

Victoria Ruiz started her graduate school two and half years ago at Purdue and since then she has been teaching First Year Composition. She recently completed teaching her fifth batch of her English 106 class. Her sections are themed around identity as being a negotiation of time and space. In her own words, she designs her classes in such a way that students learn about identities, culture, explore, critique, and perform rhetoric in various cultural scopes across different genres.

In addition to teaching identity themed English 106, Ruiz is also the leader of the Syllabus Approach UR@. UR@ is one of the six different syllabus approaches that instructors of ICaP choose to teach their English 106 class. During their first year, instructors follow their mentor’s syllabus approach for a year. After a year of taking the Teaching Practicum Course with their mentor, instructors can choose different syllabus approaches to teach their classroom, and based on their preferences, they also introduce various assignments that meet ICaP’s six major outcomes.

According to Ruiz, she has made significant changes to her English 106 course as she now structures her course around her own research that is on identity, culture.

“I feel teaching and learning is a both-way process. As much as my students learn from me, I do learn from them as well. Additionally, the UR@ syllabus approach is flexible enough to support changes in the syllabus as per the student needs, and the students really seem to enjoy it,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz’s class is based on identity and through her assignments the students are asked to look at the way identity is constructed and performed through communication and writing for varied audiences, in various genres, and with specific purposes.

She said, “Over the past two years, I’ve curated a selection of additional reading assignments that allows students to know more about writing process, instruction & application, and identity. My students discuss about issues like race, class, ability, privilege, and so on throughout the semester. I have seen their identities change throughout the semester and it is really cool how students get well informed about the real world.”

Every English 106 course is divided into three types of class. Students meet twice a week in a traditional classroom, once in an one-on-one conference, and once in a computer classroom. These varied spaces also help instructors to implement their pedagogy by taking various pedagogical approaches. Most importantly, students and instructors work very closely to meet the goals of the class as set by ICaP.

“Over the past two years, I’ve found that it’s all the little things that we do as instructors that add up and impact our students’ lives. Each of my projects helps frame identity in different ways, and by the end of the semester the students are able to reflect on just how far they’ve come, all the work that they’ve completed, and everything they’ve learned… all of this helps them become better writers,” Ruiz shared.

Victoria’s Crucial Assignment: Personal Portfolio/Auto-Ethnography

The assignment that she is currently teaching  “is probably her students’ favorite” – it is a hybridized personal portfolio/auto-ethnography. Ruiz tries to place a lot of emphasis on the personal portfolio aspect of it so that students feel as though something is at stake and they take a vested interest in finishing out the semester with enthusiasm. This project asks students to compose materials that highlight the transferable skills that they might put to use outside the 106 classroom. In effect, when her students finish the semester – they then have something that they can continue adding to over the course of their collegiate career. This project is also one that they might offer to show potential employers during a job interview, etc. It is their chance to showcase their best work and what makes them most marketable.

Ruiz says she also really loves this assignment because it is structured in such a way that she is able to gauge what the students have learned and how they’ve grown throughout the semester. The reflection portion of the project puts the students and their work in the spotlight, so to speak.