Graduate instructors teach either two or three courses over two semesters to fulfill their assistantship each year. During their first year at Purdue, new graduate instructors will teach one section of first year composition each semester and be enrolled in a practicum for new teachers. After the first year of teaching, teaching opportunities broaden to include a variety of teaching experiences:
- Introductory Composition
- Business Writing
- ESL Writing/Speaking
- Online Writing Courses
- Technical Writing
- Writing Lab
A 2006 winner of CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence, our primary first-year composition course, English 106, meets four times per week, with one of those meetings in a computer classroom and one of the meetings a small group conference. Because English 106 is a four-credit course, graduate instructors teaching English 106 teach two courses per year. New graduate instructors enroll in a formal practicum (English 505) that works with new teachers in small groups. Purdue’s formal practicum dates to the early 1960s, demonstrating the Department of English’s long support of quality college writing instruction.
Purdue has taught professional writing courses since the 1920s, has had an undergraduate major since 1985, and has taught all service courses in computer classrooms since 1991 (with technical writing a pilot for this in 1988). Its long tradition of professional writing instruction with technology has led it to emphasize teaching writing to professionals in the digital communication environments they will use.
Graduate Instructors can teach business writing, technical writing, online courses in professional writing, and occasionally a course in the undergraduate major. New instructors have a formal practicum during their first semester of teaching.
Purdue’s ESL teaching appointments, which serves the University’s large and diverse international student enrollment, includes classroom instruction, tutorial instruction, and language test administration. New ESL teachers are prepared through a course in teaching ESL.
One of the oldest writing centers in the nation, the writing lab’s services include one-on-one tutorials, asynchronous tutoring, instructor consultations, writing workshops, ESL conversation groups, the online writing lab (OWL), and business writing consulting. Most tutoring occurs in one-to-one sessions, the goal of which is to help students become better writers, not merely to improve individual texts.
Some graduate instructors have technology appointments for work in support of distance learning efforts, such as the Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL), the Online Writing Instructor, and teaching in networked classrooms.
Graduate instructors are also eligible for positions in writing program administration and teacher preparation. Several advanced graduate instructors serve as assistants to the directors of first-year composition, professional writing, and the graduate program in rhetoric & composition. Advanced graduate instructors may also serve as mentors of new teachers of writing.