Bedford New Scholar Carrie Wilson's mission is to help students hone media literacy skills

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Carrie WilsonCarrie Wilson (recommended by Bret Zawilski) is wrapping up her MA in English this May 2019 at Appalachian State University. She has taught Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum and Expository Writing. Her research interests include psychology and gender representation in American Gothic fiction; postmodern South American literature; feminist, genre, and cultural studies in the Rhetoric and Composition discipline; inclusivity in the first year composition classroom; information literacy and archival librarianship; and accessibility of public and academic library materials. She is applying to MLIS programs for Fall 2019.

How does the next generation of students inspire you?

From what I have witnessed in my so-far brief run as a graduate teacher of Rhetoric & Composition, post-millennials' adaptability to increasingly multifaceted digital technology is simply astounding. While my generation (at least from what I have personally observed) seemed to utilize social media as a linear method of curating an online personality, my students trend towards using these platforms as much more complex rhetorical tools that include many forms of multimedia strung together to communicate a rich story about their life and even their identity. Many are inclined towards online activism as well; they use the Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (a.k.a. FRAP; discussed below) not simply as a fun creative outlet, as would have been permitted to them, but instead as an opportunity to tackle complicated questions politicians struggle to answer on televised Town Halls. There is a level of fearlessness with which they express their opinions about key national and international issues that I respect and admire, especially when it comes through so clearly in projects with digital deliverables that have a lot of moving parts to manage.

What is the most important skill you aim to provide your students?

When back in 2016 I read that a report from the Stanford History Education Group demonstrated how students struggle with vetting o..., it became my personal objective to pursue information literacy as a career to not only make said literacy more accessible to all students, but also to tailor my lessons to address the current digital environment. With a sprawling online environment that provides us with multiple sources of daily media input (as anyone with one social media account likely has at least one more) comes an increased difficulty for being selective about where we choose to receive crucial information about our sociopolitical interests. We're all aware of the current stakes of increased use of online platforms for staying up to date on current issues: fake news is multiplying; we've entered the "post-truth" era. Parsing out informational reporting from personal opinion (both of which have their place, of course) is starting to require an increased level of proficiency in media literacy than was previously standard. While this proficiency is necessary for all age groups who participate in online platforms, honing the media literacy skills of current and future generations is my goal in all that I do. 

What do you think instructors don't know about educational publishing but should?

Prior to joining the Bedford New Scholars program, I was largely clueless about the process of developing and publishing educational materials like those produced by Bedford. The extent of my knowledge was largely limited to the appearance of the finished product and its contents. I never considered how much thought goes into not only compiling and editing the materials included in a textbook, but also how the finished product is packaged (e.g., how the cover looks and what details to include on a back cover summary). The amount of feedback received from current professors of Rhetoric & Composition regarding these materials was also an unknown variable to me in the overall equation of educational publishing. While I cannot speak for all instructors, I can say for myself that I appreciate knowing more about the amount of attention given to making sure that the materials produced will be tailored to the needs of the teachers.

What's it like to be a part of the Bedford New Scholars program?

Being a part of the Bedford New Scholars program has been educational and inspiring. It opened the door for me to develop a network of colleagues in the field of education to which I otherwise would not have had access. At the Boston summit, we were able to collaborate on a variety of pedagogical approaches as well as propose ideas for resources that should be made more accessible to Rhetoric & Composition professors and their classrooms. Through access to the Bedford Bits Blog as well as in-person, interactive learning experiences, this program has also given me the opportunity to advance my understanding of inclusive education and what that looks like practically in the classroom, which is a valuable asset to any educator. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to provide feedback on projects and materials currently in development at Bedford, not only giving myself and my colleagues a voice in the development process of educational materials, but also showing me where the field of educational publishing is heading in the near future.

Carrie’s Assignment that Works

During the Bedford New Scholars Summit, each member presented an assignment that had proven successful or innovative in their classroom. Below is a brief synopsis of Carrie's assignment. You can view the full details here: Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (FRAP) 

The Functional Rhetorical Appeals Project (FRAP, for short) is a project I proposed and then developed in partial collaboration with my cohort of graduate teachers at Appalachian State University. It is a collaborative major assignment around which I scaffolded my unit on visual rhetoric, digital literacy, and presentation. The goal of this project is to teach the always-collaborative process of composition, even in seeming isolation, as well as the rhetorical mobility granted by digital media. Ultimately, the project takes the form of an issue-oriented campaign communicated through two complementary deliverables—one digital, one tangible. The group decides together on their central issue, submits a proposal for their project about how it will take shape, drafts the individual components over the course of a couple of weeks, and finally submits a metacognitive analysis of their project that is essentially an inward-facing rhetorical analysis essay. This project worked surprisingly well when I debuted it in my First Year Composition classrooms in place of the more typical rhetorical analysis essay because it got the students creating and analyzing their own texts, thus developing a richer understanding of the structures, visual and textual, within which rhetorical appeals work to mobilize arguments.

Learn more about the Bedford New Scholars advisory board on the Bedford New Scholars Community page.

About the Author
This is the shared account for the Bedford New Scholars TA Advisory Board.