Conducting Professional Development


Professional development toward a place-conscious writing program could include any number of PD activities. Reading groups are especially useful for helping faculty understand the goals of a place-conscious education. Other activities might include exploring published work regarding place-conscious and community-oriented models of composition instruction, such as service-learning, community-engaged scholarship, and community literacy. A variety of published work exists discussing the successes and challenges of assignments and course designs based around place-conscious approaches. These offer a way to discuss with faculty and address concerns regarding day-to-day implementation of place-conscious pedagogy.

Encouraging Classroom Research

As Rutz and Wilhoit (2016) explain, faculty development includes much more than just teacher training. Faculty development includes fostering growth as “a teacher, professional, and person” (p. 235), and the holistic approach advocated for by Rutz and Wilhoit plays well with place-conscious education’s focus on intradependence (Brooke, 2004). Building a place-conscious education also promises to address development of faculty as professional and members of the field of composition and writing studies. Place-conscious education is interested in how places are rhetorically constructed through out encounters with various forms of media. As such, place-based assignments may offer ways to incorporate technology in the classroom in innovative ways, thus expanding instructors knowledge of and experience with instructional technologies. Engagement with theory and research involving place-conscious education may also encourage faculty to reevaluate, revise, or expand their philosophies of teaching. You might offer workshops to peer review new place-based assignments. Finally, as instructors begin to implement new place-conscious pedagogies, new assessment opportunities may arise. In a transitional period, it may be useful to enlist the help of teaching faculty to engage in classroom research to assess the strengths of new changes. These assessment opportunities can help the program continue to justify place-conscious approaches and can also generate opportunities for faculty to engage with human subjects research, propose projects to IRB, and possibly present data at professional conferences.

Reading Groups

On the Further Reading for Instructors page, you will find a variety of articles, books, edited collections, and book chapters which attempt to define place-conscious education, articulate a place-conscious approach to writing instruction, or which explore critical elements of places and spaces. These readings can be adopted as co-reading project for faculty development reading groups.

Some questions you might ask as your development group reads these sources include:

  • What kind of political, philosophical, or pedagogical goals does this reading encourage us to adopt as teachers?
  • What instructional methods (day-to-day practices, assignment designs) does this reading prompt us to adopt?
  • What changes can we make in our own orientations toward the purposes of learning based on the suggestions made in this reading?
  • How can these suggestions coexist with, or possibly enhance, current curricular needs and learning outcomes of our programs?
  • Is there a possibility that these readings might inform a revision to our department or institutional mission or to our learning outcomes?

Assignment Reviews

On the Scaffolding Assignments, Major Projects, and In-Class Activities page, you will find a variety of place-conscious writing assignments and projects. As you develop a place-conscious curriculum or help your teaching faculty develop place-conscious assignments, you might collectively critique and build on these assignment designs to create ones which best suit your institutional, community, and curricular needs.

Some questions you might ask as you begin reviewing these assignments with teaching faculty include:

  • Does this assignment meet several of our program’s learning outcomes? If not, how can we adapt it to make sure it does?
  • How does this assignment help students better understand connections between places and discourse?
  • Is there anything in this assignment which might help students make an impact in their communities, if they choose to do so? How can we adapt it so that it encourages such action?