6030 Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. K. Shannon Howard

Email: khowar20@aum.edu    Skype user name: kshowa02

Office: Auburn Montgomery LA Room 144I (‘eye’) down the hall, to the left

Office Hours:  Wednesday evenings online via email or Skype, 6-8pm

I’m happy to meet you face to face on campus as well; I teach an ENGL 1010 section on campus this semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let me know if you’d like to meet.

Prerequisite for 6030:

Graduate admission to AUM, likely in the fields of English, Teaching Writing, or Education. This course is a core requirement for the Master of Teaching Writing degree and, therefore, is required of those students.  May be cross-listed with 4100.

Course Objectives:

Trace histories of remediation in American colleges (specifically Open Admissions).

Identify struggles that writers face in composing, particularly those connected to issues of identity.

Analyze ways that remediation is perceived by the public and shaped by racial and class divides.

Explore models of learning beyond the  “deficit model.”

Understand programming requirements and curricular concerns for placing students in Basic Writing.

Materials Required: You do not have to buy anything for this course. Just make sure you have–

Regular online access to Blackboard and AUM email and familiarity with both

Computer or laptop with speaker and video capability (or mobile device)

A free Flipgrid account for this particular class (we’ll set this up later)

Ability to read/download PDF documents

For graduate students: I would recommend (but do NOT REQUIRE) buying used copies of books like Mike Rose’s Lives on the Boundary and Mina Shaughnessy’s Errors and Expectations. Many are available for under $10 at amazon.com. These will come in handy during your time in the college writing classroom.


In Pedagogy of Basic Writing students learn to understand and think differently about students who have previously struggled in being “college ready” in terms of their writing. This course does not repeat or reify the events of Composition Teaching Practicum, ENGL 6974. This means you will not be asked to make a number of syllabi or lesson plans for a future remedial course. Instead, you’ll analyze and evaluate different artifacts, political positions, and documents related to remediation and how they affect YOUR perceptions of students. We will be looking at emotion and the affective domain of education as well, which means we’ll explore how writers’ perceptions of identity and belonging influence their successes or failures.

In other words, we won’t be proposing solutions to existing problems in Basic English coursework. We’ll seek to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND the issues so that we may correct our own perceptions about students who are deemed “struggling.” This course will not focus on the future and how we’ll “fix” the problems. It will focus on being “present” in the “present.”

This idea of being “treated” or “fixed” is one that has been put aside by scholars. This is because the notion of needing “treatment” is heavily associated with dysfunction and deficit. Basic Writing scholarship attempts to meet students where they already are rather than “fixing” their writing so they may blend in with other populations. If you are looking for easy answers to how to teach someone who struggles with commas, this course will not give you that. Instead, it will seek to have you think differently about why and how students write in certain ways.


In some cases, I’ll ask you only to get a taste of a specific work in the scholarship—it will be up to you to read more, check out the book, order it from Amazon, and so forth.  One major issue with survey courses is that they attempt coverage rather than depth. I am trying to work against that grain in this case. There are also MANY summaries and blogs online about the works we discuss. Please feel free to consult them, but you should write your own interpretations of what you read and steer clear of copying anyone else’s work. Please ask me questions about this if you have them.

At times I will list optional or suggested readings for graduate students, and I would encourage you, at the least, to download such documents and skim them (or make a note to read them in the future).

If you are curious about my approach to this course, you might also consult Krista Ratcliffe’s article from the late 1990s: “Rhetorical Listening: A Trope for Interpretive Invention and a Code of Cross-Cultural Conduct,” which was published in College Composition and Communication (the main journal of the field of composition).

Grade Distribution

 Discussion Board and Flipgrid Participation    130 pts   WEEKLY

Qualitative Research Paper                              40 pts               Due July 10

Final Exam: Wiki                                             80 pts               Due July 30


 Total of 250 points for the course.    

 Assignments completed on the graduate level should show a sophistication and depth that undergraduate work lacks; that said, please feel free to email or Skype me if you need support in this arena.

It is also important to stress that graduate students, in pursuing an advanced degree, are expected to make A’s and B’s in their coursework in order to remain in good standing with the school. Another important part of your education is building productive relationships with professors. Do this by staying in regular contact with the instructor about your goals and your questions about the course material. A GPA that begins to show evidence of ‘C’ work will likely place a student on probation or make it difficult for that student to obtain a letter of recommendation from the instructor of record. Likewise, a student who disappears frequently during the course or fails to maintain communication will have trouble securing references or letters as well.

Grades at AUM do not include plusses and minuses. Therefore, an A is anything between 90-100, a B is anything between 80-89, a C is 70-79, and so on. A midterm grade is posted a few weeks into the summer semester to let you know where you stand at that time.

Discussion Board and Flipgrid:

Each week you’ll reflect and respond to the readings/podcasts/videos assigned to you. Graduate students should consider themselves the leaders of a productive discussion. This work is the heart of the course, and it is essential to submit it in a timely fashion. I will post a separate sheet establishing guidelines for this process where I’ll tell you more about word count, structure, and assessment. These tasks each week usually total 20 points. You will also post a short video to Flipgrid in which you talk more casually about the issues in the readings with your peers. Putting your full effort into this weekly work is the best way to succeed in the course.

Qualitative Research:

Around the midterm point you’ll interview a person who struggled in college writing classes. Your interview answers will be organized and expressed in the form of a traditional academic paper. It is important to seek answers from someone who is different from you—from a different culture, race, ability, gender, etc. Your submissions, however, will be private and read only by me. You should also ensure anonymity by changing the person’s name to a pseudonym of their choice.

Graduate students will be asked explicitly to connect the interviewee’s experiences with their assigned and/or the optional readings for the course.

Wiki Page:

You’ll post a new wiki page for a book, scholar, or aspect of Basic Writing on Wikipedia.org.  Doing so will require references and outside research. You’ll then send me a link of your page and a reflection of how you put together your information, what you found most challenging about the process, and how you feel about making this work public. You’ll also reflect on what further research needs to be done.

As the summer passes, I will share more details about word count and page specifications.


 As mentioned above, many blogs and websites, most developed over the last ten years, offer summaries of the works we read. You are welcome to browse and consult anything you find, but understand that your reading and interpretation must be your own, and any copying of online materials will result in an automatic F for any assignment, small or large. However, each individual case will be judged depending on the nature of the incident.  Please see the Student Handbook for more information on how AUM addresses plagiarism.

Source attribution and entering the academic conversation may often be confusing because the world we live in is constantly changing. Please email me immediately with any questions you have. If you don’t want to contact me, I’d advise using the Learning Center. See below.

Free Academic Support:

All students have the opportunity to receive free academic support at AUM. Visit the Learning Center (LC) in the WASC on second floor Library or the Instructional Support Lab (ISL) in 203 Goodwyn Hall. The LC.ISL offers writing consulting as well as tutoring in almost every class through graduate school. The LC may be reached at 244-3470 (call or walk-in for a session), and the ISL may be reached at 244-3265. ISL tutoring is first-come-first served. Current operating hours can be found at http://www.aum.edu/learningcenter.

 From the website itself: Learning Center tutors offer you learning strategies based on your individual learning styles. Writing tutors work with undergraduate and graduate students in every course across the disciplines and have been trained to help non-native speakers of English. We have current style manuals, including APA, MLA, AP, and Turabian along with current textbooks, solution manuals, Compass Math Placement Test guide, Windows and Linux Operating Systems. We offer extended time for students enrolled through the Center for Disability Services. Come check out our services and enjoy some candy while you are here.

Disability and Accessibility:

 Students who need accommodations are asked to contact me by e-mail to discuss your accommodations. If you have not registered for accommodation services through the Center for Disability Services (CDS), but need accommodations, make an appointment with CDS, 147 Taylor Center, or call 334-244-3631 or e-mail CDS at cds@aum.eduThat was the official statement. My statement is also this: we all learn differently. I am here to help you succeed. Please communicate with me often to let me know how I can help you.  

 Technology Support:

 Students may seek technology assistance from the ITS Help Desk located in the computer lab on the first floor of the Taylor Center. You may also call 334-244-3500 or email helpdesk@aum.edu.

 Late Work/Missed Assignments:

 Summer semester moves very quickly. My policy during this particular semester is that I do NOT accept late submissions unless there is a very specific reason for doing so (please see this link for more info on what AUM counts as specific reasons:  http://www.aum.edu/docs/default-source/university-policy/aum-attendance-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=0 ). Therefore, it is important that you post to the Discussion Board and Flipgrid on the day the material is due and not a day later. When too many people fail to contribute, the few who do cannot exchange ideas or have a good conversation.

During semesters I am able to follow up more often with students about missed work or missed assignments. Please understand that the length of this semester may prevent some of that. If you do not turn in work, I will not be seeking you out to ask you to complete or submit it. I will assume you made a choice to omit the assignment and take the penalty of missing points.

Curtiss Course Critiques:

 Please make time during the last few weeks of the course to complete the online Curtiss Course Critique. This will not take long and is essential to helping me plan future courses and make changes.