Nina Feng (recommended by Jay Jordan and Andrew Franta) is pursuing her PhD in English with an emphasis in Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. She expects to graduate in May 2021. She teaches Intermediate Writing, Writing in the Social Sciences, and Write4U, a course for transfer students. Her research interests include game pedagogy, multimodality, sensory rhetorics, and critical race theory.
What is your greatest teaching challenge?
I’ve faced many difficult situations and made many mistakes throughout my teaching career. It’s taught me that I have to continue educating myself on student needs and working towards recognizing my own biases, which is a process that I hope to always engage in. One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in teaching is to be self-aware and unafraid to relinquish control, along with previous ideas of success in writing. I try to be thoughtful about how I expect students to respond, or how the lesson should go because if we allow students to claim authority and show us unexpected ways to approach assignments, we can give them space to grow in confidence and develop their own aims and strengths.
How do you hope higher education will change in the next ten years?
I hope that more and more teachers and institutions will adopt translingual approaches, emphasizing the acts of translation and interpretation that happen when we communicate, destabilizing curriculums that depend on standards of white supremacy. I think we’re seeing more of that happen in many fields, and we’re beginning to embrace language difference as potential, rather than deficit.
What do you think instructors don't know about educational publishing but should?
I think instructors should know that there are meticulous processes and engaged conversations happening with publishers and educators on the ground. Many of the materials that are created can be extremely useful, in supplementary ways and beyond composition classrooms as well. It’s worth considering and looking through potential textbooks to see what might help new instructors, in particular.
What have you learned from other Bedford New Scholars? I was very fortunate to work with an incredible group of graduate students, and I learned so much from each one of them. I realized how much social justice work is happening at multiple institutions, and also how we’re all trying to reinvent similar assignments, ones which depend on basic, durable rhetorical models but need innovative modifications to address student needs. I also learned how many brilliant ideas are brewing in the minds of individual instructors — we could all benefit from a larger network of closer connections across institutions.
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 Nina’s assignment.
Nina’s Assignment that Works: Rhetorical Synthesis of Multimodal Works For this assignment, students are asked to choose four pieces of media/readings we’ve been studying during the first month of the semester, and to write a synthesis focused on the similarities and differences between rhetorical strategies utilized among the pieces. The pieces range from radio clips to short films to video games, encouraging students to become more aware of the mediums and modalities that contribute to rhetorical effectiveness. In an effort to help students think about the various tools, people, histories and contexts involved in communication, I think the more diverse the modalities and media we present, the more visible we can make the multiple layers of communication processes.