January 23, 2023
TPS Report 2022
These TPS Reports seem to get longer each year. We in the School of Arts and Letters even have an additional form to fill out for some reason. I think sending an annotated CV should be fine, really, as the admins already have access to the quantifiable data that they want to see. I’m uncertain that my additional narrative is even necessary, but it seems necessary to justify (or is that vindicate) my ways to them.
At this point in my career—20 years at this institution (longer than any admin above me)—I would really like to concentrate on my scholarship, but teaching remains the primary (only?) focus the administration. As a consequence, more duties are added to teaching every semester. It’s not enough for me to teach and evaluate any more. All classes now have additional stuff (assignments, forms, rubrics, SLOs, goals, policies, etc. etc.) that goes along with them that give the administration another all-important data point to put on a report. Syllabi now read like end-user agreements with all of the additional content we’re required to include.
Maybe I’m being overly critical. I am getting older. However, it seems that the politics of living in a red state and working at a state university are more about producing graduates for the workforce than teaching critical social engagement. 2022 saw a controversial new chancellor installed and the subsequent weakening of tenure—testament to the process of making faculty more akin to a clock-punching workforce than an integral group of highly trained and skilled professionals who have a say in governance. At least we’re not Florida. Yet. I think this situation could have been remedied with the election of Stacy Abrams, but voters said no in double digits. While Georgia might be ready for a black democrat to represent them in the US Senate, they are very much not ready for a black woman in the state’s highest elected position.
I teach a 4/4 load, including optional summer courses (see charts below). This did not change for 2022; in fact, I taught two courses in the summer term. I teach a mixture of face-to-face and fully online classes. Obviously, students still want online courses, judging by the high enrollment in those courses versus the low enrollments in face-to-face. Who could blame them? That said, course enrollment caps are still too high, decreasing immiserating the quality of teaching and learning and decreasing “student success.” I figure a reasonable cap for surveys is 20, and 15 for writing-intensive courses.
ENGL 1101 was a relatively new class for me, but one that the Powers-that-Be have decided all faculty must teach, or that’s at least what I was told. According to my records, I hadn’t taught it since the fall of 2008. That meant I really had to design the course from scratch.
I created a new online section of ENGL 3700, the Postmodern Novel, that I offered in the summer. Along with an online ENGL 1102 and ENGL 2122, I created sections of ENGL 3700 and ENGL 3900 totaling six (including ENGL 1101) brand new courses that I designed and taught since the spring of 2020.
This year, I began to use Packback discussions to support my online courses. This software offers students real-time feedback as they write, encouraging rich, multimodal posts that use strong sources. Students earn “curiosity scores” for their contributions, based on the quality of their posts. While the software has a moderate cost for students, I try to mitigate that by choosing low-cost textbooks.
Similarly, I used my MediaWiki server LitWiki this fall for a class project in ENGL 1101 to teach integral digital literacy skills into first-year composition. Our project this fall was “Norman Mailer's Stabbing of Adele Morales”; it is still a work-in-progress that another course could resume. I often use project-oriented approaches to many assignments, including real-world activities, like writing for Wikipedia, that teach professionalism, research skills, and valuable digital literacies. This approach supports the mission goals of the School of Arts and Letters, specifically by expanding the classroom to offer a “broad access to arts and humanities education,” and challenges students to “promote creativity, elevate culture, encourages the pursuit of happiness, and prepares intellectually agile citizens to serve our communities and the creative economy of Georgia.” By engaging in real-world projects, students begin to appreciate the necessity for being informed, critical, and responsible citizens.
With all the brouhaha around AI technologies, I think we as English educators should embrace and teach these technologies. All of the current AI-assisted platforms use natural language processing (NLP) for prompts: this means that English is the best department to create a new curriculum for digital creators, both in the graduate and undergraduate levels. How about AI Fine Arts, or simply Digital Humanities? I’m sure the current political climate would support such an initiative as long as the practical, employment potential is emphasized. Since AI-supported creation is making significant inroads into all content creation—copy writing, images, music, video, voice, etc.—we in English are in a prime position to begin offering some AI-supported courses. I’m doing what I can in my standard classes already; I have been for decades.
|CRN||Class||Name||Day and Time||Room|
|80798||ENGL 1101.03||English Composition I||MW 11–12:15||TEB-373|
|80506||ENGL 2111.03||World Literature I||MW 12:30-13:45||SOAL-216|
|CRN||Class||Name||Day and Time||Room|
|55542||ENGL 2111.07||World Literature I||Online||-|
|56141||ENGL 3700.01||Studies in the Novel||Online||-|
|CRN||Class||Name||Day and Time||Room|
|24696||ENGL 1102.29||English Composition 2||Online||-|
|23909||ENGL 2111.05||World Literature I||MW 9:30-10:45||SOAL-206|
|24244||ENGL 2122.02||British Literature II||Online , SS||-|
Progression and Retention Strategies
I learn student names. I expect them to communicate with me about difficulties, and I try to work with every student to pass my classes. In essence, most students who make an effort to engage the course materials and attempt all of the work end up successful. Most failures have to do with students just disappearing.
One of my key strategies for promoting student progression is the use of clear and measurable learning objectives. This helps students understand what they are expected to learn, and provides a clear roadmap for their class progression. I have tried to simplify my class requirements and assignments, so students may concentrate on the work, rather than the course design. I use both as quizzes and tests to help students monitor their own progress and identify areas where they need additional support.
I encourage students to seek out Writing Center assistance for additional support and guidance. I make use of the library’s resources and excellent librarians to introduce students to research using the latest research techniques. I further encourage students to engage in extra-curricular activities while in school to build a sense of community and belonging.
Goals for Teaching
- Promote Student Engagement: Encourage student participation and create an environment that promotes active learning. Utilize a variety of teaching methods such as group work, discussions, and technology-based tools (like Packback discussions and Deep Dives) to keep students engaged and motivated.
- Foster Student Progression: Develop lesson plans that are challenging and stimulating, while also providing opportunities for students to build on their existing knowledge. Use assessments and feedback to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, and work with them to improve.
- Incorporate Technological Innovation: Integrate technology into the classroom in meaningful ways, such as using online resources and platforms (see above) for assignments, collaborative projects, and presentations. Utilize technology to create new learning experiences and provide students with access to information and resources beyond the walls (literal and electronic) of academia.
- Address Diverse Learning Needs: Create an inclusive and supportive learning environment that accommodates diverse learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds. Utilize technology and multimedia resources to reach all students and ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to succeed.
- Foster Student Retention: Create opportunities for students to connect with their peers, instructors, and the community. Encourage students to seek out help and support when they need it and provide them with resources and tools that will help them stay motivated and engaged throughout the semester. Foster an environment that values student growth and development, and celebrates the accomplishments of students as they progress.
- Co-editor/writer (with J. Michael Lennon and Susan Mailer), “Saint and Psychopath,” an excerpt from Norman Mailer’s unpublished “marijuana journal.” Times Literary Supplement, August 18, 2022. Featured in the editor’s introduction to this issue.
- Co-editor (with J. Michael Lennon and Susan Mailer) of Norman Mailer’s Lipton’s Journal, forthcoming fall 2023 by Skyhorse. Much of the work remediating from a DH project and editing this over-100K-word volume happened this year.
- Lucas, Gerald R. (2021). "'It Might Not Be Unpleasant to Live': The Transitional Short Fiction of Norman Mailer". The Mailer Review. 15. (Published 2022, late because of supply line issues)
- Wrote a blurb for A Mysterious Country, by Norman Mailer, Edited by J. Michael Lennon and John Buffalo Mailer. Forthcoming January 2023.
- “Teaching Mailer.” The Norman Mailer Society Conference, Long Branch, NJ, Jun 2022.
- “Mailer’s Transitional Short Fiction.” The Norman Mailer Society Conference, Long Branch, NJ, Jun 2022.
- “‘Shored Against My Ruins’: The Road to Recovery in The Waste Land.” Arts Festival, MGA: March 2022.
- Chair, Graduate Studies Council
- Member, Academic Affairs
- Chair, Tenure and Promotion Subcommittee, Elaina Behounek
- Member, Admissions Committee, Graduate Program in Technical Writing
- Conference Co-Organizer, 19th Annual Norman Mailer Society Conference, June 2022
- Volunteer, Writing Center, Spring 2022
- Editor, Project Mailer, the Digital Humanities initiative of the NMS
- Associate (Digital) Editor, The Mailer Review, since 2007
- Vice President, Norman Mailer Society, since 2018
- Member, Executive Board, Norman Mailer Society, since 2006
- Member, Editorial Board, The Mailer Review, since 2021
- Mentor, Wikipedia Education, spring and fall 2022
I have been an educator in Central Georgia for twenty years, during which I have seen many changes in institutional emphases, national and local government, the culture of higher education, and university leadership and structure. As a full professor, I have chosen to focus on my scholarship and service, particularly in Mailer studies, and I continue to innovate by using digital technologies to support my teaching, scholarship, and service. My approach to teaching is sometimes challenging for myself and students, but it is integral to helping support the goals of the school and MGA, and seems even more necessary in this current political climate.
- This result is not surprising based on Georgia’s voter suppression laws that went into effect after the Republican defeats in 2020 and democratic election fatigue (see “Georgia’s Turnout Boss, Stacey Abrams, Had a Turnout Problem”). There might even be a bit of misogyny in there, too. Say good-bye to higher-ed reform, cannabis legalization, Medicaid expansion, responsible gun reform, etc. We even elected an election denier as lieutenant governor. If anything, things are going to get worse.