Teaching

Selected Courses

English 420/520: Professional Writing in a Globalized World

This course arises out of the recognition that there are more nonnative than native speakers of English and that we can increasingly expect to communicate with people from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds in our professional lives. The class will begin by giving students a theoretical grounding in cross-cultural communication with readings primarily from scholars in applied linguistics and rhetoric that focus on issues such as native/nonnative speaker power hierarchies, communication styles, and cultural situatedness. As the semester progresses, the readings will focus on cross-cultural communication considerations when communicating in different professional settings: journalism, advertising, technical communication, and internal corporate communication. Projects include a facilitated cross-cultural exchange with an accompanying reflection essay, a cross-cultural media analysis, a group wiki project focused on exploring communication styles in different cultures, and various applied projects.

Sample Syllabus: Click here

English 640: The Sociopolitical Contexts of Writing Instruction

Over the past few decades, political decisions at the state and federal levels in the form of federal mandates like No Child Left Behind and the recent adoption of the Common Core have increasingly impacted writing instruction in K-12 English Arts classrooms. With encouragement of influential lobbying organizations, state and federal legislators are increasingly turning their attention to bringing an accountability system to colleges and universities. This class is based on the realization that what goes on in a writing class, whether in elementary school, high school, or college, is situated in a larger sociopolitical context.

The course will begin with readings from selected critical theorists such as Bourdieu and Foucault in order to build a theoretical framework with which to approach the readings and discussions throughout the semester. We will then read and discuss research conducted by scholars in education and rhetoric and composition along with looking at government and foundation policy statements to gain a better understanding of how writing instruction in both the U.S. and abroad is situated in larger contexts and how we as educators may respond to these discourses. Alongside these readings, we will explore how broader societal factors such as poverty rates, access to health care, and immigration policies affect students’ abilities to be successful in writing classrooms.

Sample Syllabus: Click here

English 538: Composition Theory

Although a relatively young discipline, composition studies has a rich history with many areas of inquiry that influence the work we do as writers and teachers of writing. In this course, we will explore these many areas by going to the research directly: reading and discussing articles published in various composition journals over the last several decades. We will explore theories of audience, genre, process, collaboration, second language writing, multimodal composition, among others. By the end of the course, students should emerge with a broad understanding of various theories circulating in composition and have the understanding necessary to pursue further work in a particular area. Class work will include weekly readings (typically 4-5 articles) and responses, a synthesis of work on a particular topic, and a final paper exploring a particular theory in depth.

Sample Syllabus: Click here

teaching philosophy

Student Comments

“This is one of the best English courses I have taken but what was done especially well was his varied use of trying to get us to think critically.”

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“The professor is really big on feedback and that helps with knowing exactly where you stand in the class.”

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"“I believe Dr. Ruecker was extremely fair and open to opinions. He acted respectfully toward students and displayed genuine interest in making sure material was understood by his students.”

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“He has done very well in being organized, helping out students when needed, is clear and not confusing, and gives great feedback.”

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“Very organized, did very well in teaching the course. Did a lot of group discussions. Very good class.”