Using Active Learning to Teach College Composition: To Give a Hand or a Handkerchief

By Cristina Karmas.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

To succeed as workers in the 21st century—a world of increasing knowledge and decreasing certainty—today's composition students (tomorrow’s creative problem-solvers, risk-taking team-players, and flexible life-long learners) must develop the self-confidence (so elusive) and the self-understanding (so essential) that flourish when writing teachers reach the hearts and minds—the lives—of student writers.

But because composition studies are messy much in the way that life is messy, a literature review fails to yield a unified teaching model, a coherent pedagogical theory, a structured methodology, a unique research paradigm that might support an argument for adopting the studied active learning techniques that have been used, successfully, in almost a decade of composition classes taught at a typical Midwestern American university, to transform lives.

In a paper (more narration than argumentation, more description than prescription) that actively models the use of story and metaphor in learning, the author describes the intimate writing environments (integrating active learning, storytelling, and metaphor-making) in which both teacher and student (who matter equally in an environment where, finally, everything matters—all of the untidy thick description of living!) can learn, with confidence and understanding, to assert their humanity.

Keywords: Active Learning, Storytelling, Metaphor, Composition Studies, Writing, Teaching, College Composition

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 694.683KB).

Dr. Cristina Karmas

Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Department of English, Graceland University, Lamoni, Iowa, USA

Cristina S. Karmas holds a Ph.D. in English, a M.A. in English, and a M.A. in Philosophy from The Ohio State University. Her interests include composing music, writing stories, and learning languages. Dr. Karmas has lived both in the U.S. and in Europe (Greece and Spain). She is now teaching at Graceland University, Iowa, in the Division of Humanities.

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