How can rhetorical grammar be leveraged to teach the purposes of various genres in first year college writing?

Can a rhetorical grammar approach make first-year college writing students feel like they have choices when it comes to grammar?

As a PhD student in Linguistics and a graduate instructor in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Colorado Boulder, I attempt to answer this question by combining theory and methods from rhetorical grammar, Construction Grammar, Writing Studies, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. My dissertation is a SoTL project in which I assess students’ learning with respect to a rhetorical grammar learning goal: to make grammatical choices that help students accomplish their purposes for writing in various academic and non-academic genres.

I have a passion for college teaching and am hoping to enter the field of Educational Development after I complete my dissertation. I have been the Lead Graduate Teacher for the Department of Linguistics at CU Boulder since Fall 2021, where I lead workshops and perform teaching consultations for other graduate students. I have taught Introduction to Linguistics, Figurative Language, and First Year Writing & Rhetoric as an instructor of record.

As a researcher in Linguistics, I also study polysemy, the conventional association of multiple meanings with a single linguistic form. I’m interested in both lexical and constructional polysemy, both within and between different communities of practice. I work from the perspective that semantics is a social phenomenon, and that conventional and community-specific meaning are not mutually-exclusive!

I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA and received my BA in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley. I currently live in Arvada, Colorado, with my partner, cat, and dog.

Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz, CA. Photograph by David M Lee