URI professors explore new ways to teach writing

KINGSTON, R.I., — Feb. 7, 2018—The term paper has been a staple in colleges for the last century, typically a five- to seven-page academic essay that argues a point, backed by research and sources.

But that model could be changing.

Writing professors at the University of Rhode Island are rethinking how they teach some first-year composition classes to give students an opportunity to write in new ways that incorporate technology, personal experience and public awareness.

Spearheading the initiative is Stephanie West-Puckett, assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric in the Harrington School of Communication and Media. A renowned rhetoric and composition scholar who joined URI last fall, West-Puckett and other faculty launched a new introductory writing course this semester that helps students broaden their understanding of what it means to write in the 21st century.

“The course underscores the idea that writing does things in the world,” says West-Puckett. “Writing isn’t meant to be read by a teacher and stuffed in a desk or left in a heaping pile of papers in a faculty member’s office. It should circulate, resonate and create change, no matter how large or small.”

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