I was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Lecture (DFL) in 2011 to conduct research on the topic of expertise and its effect on student confidence. (The DFL is in the Academic Rank and Tenure rubric under professional activity, but I see it as more relevant to my teaching since my research was specifically focused on the pedagogy of collaboration and expertise.) This project grew directly from my work at the Community Writing Center and was an effort to infuse a college classroom with the same successful pedagogies that we employed at the CWC.
The results of my research, which were presented in a lecture to the college community, “Rhetorical Confidence: What Happens When We Anticipate Student Expertise,” found that if the teacher simply assumed that the students brought certain types of expertise to their learning experiences, and interacted with students in ways that that articulated these assumptions, student confidence in their own abilities and learning potential was significantly increased.
The outcomes of this research solidified my commitment to teaching with a rhetoric of respect for the abilities and expertise of students and for their temporary sharing of educational spaces with me as they move through their studies. It also has informed my approach to the Writing Across the College program which I describe more fully in the Professional Activity section.