Barbara Blakely and Susan Pagnac publish article about campus place-based curriculum in ISUComm Foundation Course English 150.
The result of several years of examination of theory from various fields, development of materials, collection of data in pilot sections, and three presentations over two years at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, “Pausing in the Whirlwind: A Campus Place-Based Curriculum in a Multimodal Foundation Communication Course” appears in the current issue (Spring 2012, 35.2) of WPA: Writing Program Administration. WPA is the journal of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the national association of college and university faculty who direct writing programs.
This fully theorized and piloted campus place-based curriculum operationalizes the Iowa State University campus, not as a neutral backdrop students pass through on their way to a vocation, but as a purposeful assemblage of physical, verbal, and natural artifacts that can be integral to students’ adjustment process and their higher education journey at Iowa State University. Based on David Gruenewald’s observation that “place is profoundly pedagogical,” the new English 150 curriculum activates the campus itself as pedagogy by providing students opportunities for pausing, exploring, researching, and sharing place-based discoveries in multiple modes in the first ISUComm Foundation Course.
The curriculum promotes students’ understanding of their new Iowa State University campus-as-place—its land-grant mission, history, Art on Campus, architecture, landscape features, programs and organizations—through multimodal communication assignments. The curriculum both assists students in their transition to the university and helps them to identify their goals in the context of the university’s—and their own—past, present, and future. More than 900 English 150 students will benefit from the campus place-based curriculum in Fall 2012. Blakely, the Director of ISUComm Foundation Courses (English 150 and 250) has also customized a textbook to accompany these English 150 sections.
Now the standard curriculum in English 150, it successfully addresses two issues of interest in large writing programs: establishing a stable-but-generative curriculum that provides consistency across many sections while also allowing innovation and choice for students and instructors. The research reported in the article indicates that the curriculum is also beneficial for teaching assistants and international students new to the Iowa State University campus. Moreover, the curriculum has already been adapted by some learning communities and will be the basis for two pilot study abroad English 250s in Spring 2013.
Blakely and Pagnac thank Thomas Lindsley, PhD student in Rhetoric and Professional Communication, for his invaluable assistance with materials, mentoring of MA TAs, and instruction of ISUComm campus place-based English 150 classes in Fall 2010; and Lindsay Kurtz, Rebecca Lee, Sara Pike, and Manman Qian—MA students and TAs who participated in the piloting of the curriculum in eight sections of English 150 in Fall 2010.
The article acknowledges the materials made available online by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Parks Library, and Lynette Pohlman, Director and Chief Curator, University Museums, as these are important pathways to students’ engagement with their new campus place. The article also acknowledges Don Payne, former Director of ISUComm, who possessed a quietly inspirational interest in the history and beauty of our campus, and Michael Mendelson, the first Director of ISUComm, whose vision of this unique communication-across-the-curriculum program and efforts to put it into practice at Iowa State University were groundbreaking.
If you would like a pdf of the article, please contact Barbara Blakely, Director, ISUComm Foundation Courses, at firstname.lastname@example.org.