In addition to teaching social science, I have a strong interest in developing and sharing skills of rhetoric – of writing and presentation. While these skills are extremely valuable for effective communication, there are often too few opportunities where we can gain explicit guidance in crafting them. I therefore seek to make these skills explicit and to provide exercises and techniques for further developing them.
I have led a series of workshop on the use of the voice in presentations and how this relates to genres of writing.
‘Beyond pain, strain and monotony: finding and supporting your voice in classroom and presentation settings’, Organization and Educational Development (formerly the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching) professional development series, Lancaster University; February, May and November 2009, March 2011, May 2014, January 2015, handout information and ppt slides here
‘Vocal calisthenics’, Lancaster Sociology Summer Conference, Lancaster University, July 2009
‘Reading, writing and vocal expression’, Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching professional development series, Lancaster University, January 2010, Reading writing and vocal expression handout
‘Exercising and expressing your voice’, Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching professional development series, Lancaster University, February 2010 and British Sociological Association Postgraduate Forum Workshop, Glasgow Caledonian University, April 2010, video podcast available here; Exercising and Expressing your Voice handout
I have also facilitated sessions on ‘Survival Skills for Postgraduate Teachers’ for Organisation and Educational Development, Lancaster University, October 2011
I have also worked more closely with small groups or one-on-one to improve writing and presentation skills. I mentored two PhD students on English translation and composition in 2011 and was a member of a peer-support writing group from 2008-2011. I found the writing group in particular highly beneficial as it provided not only concrete feedback about the structure and content of my own writing, but also a forum for sharing strategies about how to manage the writing process. Additionally, reading and critiquing the writing of others helped me to develop strong feedback skills that have contributed to my ability to supervise and support writing and research. In addition, working with others to discuss the difficulties of writing in a second language has increased my understanding of the mechanics of writing, the art that is involved in composing compelling texts, and culturally-specific notions of effective writing.
I recorded a podcast which discusses my experience of being in a writing group and how to start your own, as part of the British Sociological Association Postgraduate Forum Podcast Series. Fellow group member James Tomasson wrote about his own advice on writing groups in the 6th issue of the Sociologist Newsletter. Also, if you are looking for advice about writing and writing groups, Inside Higher Ed and Chris Golde have valuable resources. Finally, two of my favourite books on writing a PhD are How to Write a Thesis by Rowena Murray and Authoring a PhD by Patrick Dunleavy.