Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition


In this course, students will explore the composition theories and pedagogies that have been of particular interest to writing teachers and scholars in the last 70 years. This course will provide students with a solid, working foundation for the discipline of writing so that they can position themselves within a few of the scholarly/teacherly conversations of the field. By the end of the course, graduate students should have a clearer sense of who they are and what they can be as teachers, as well as how to productively navigate and negotiate the politics of a writing classroom and writing course.



  • Analyze and reflect on required readings according to the historical and political contexts of the field, as well as according to one’s own pedagogy;
  • Problem-solve for in-real-time issues in the fyw classroom;
  • Explore and develop teaching practices that are in alignment with one’s pedagogy (e.g., in the creation of a course description and major assignments, as well as in grading);
  • Compose in the genres relevant to teaching (e.g., the teaching philosophy, syllabus, major assignments, etc.), according to the parameters set by UHM as well as one’s own values and goals in the teaching of writing;
  • Enter the scholarly conversation by articulating one’s own position in it through the processes of inventing (e.g., brainstorming, researching), drafting, and revising research-based writings.


  • What have been some of the prominent pedagogies valued by and developed in the field of Rhetoric and Composition over the last 70 years?
  • What sociopolitical and institutional concerns and values have driven the valuing and development of those pedagogies?
  • What are a few of the most salient pedagogies articulated, forwarded, and embodied by writing teachers today?
  • What are the costs and benefits of each pedagogy?
  • How can pedagogies be adapted, even combined, to enable a more productive writing course?