Composition Faculty Publications: Recent Creative and Scholarly Works by Liberatore, Savage, Orlando, Fitzpatrick, and McCaughey

by Emily R C Staudt

As a program, we regularly highlight faculty publications and contributions to scholarship in the field.  Today, we’d like to highlight recent publications by Brian Fitzpatrick, Ben Orlando, James Savage, and Stephanie Liberatore, in their own words. Read on to hear about these Composition instructors balance teaching and writing, and how their collaborations with others lead to rich writing and research opportunities. 

Photo of Brian Fitzpatrick

Brian Fitzpatrick

Ying-Ying Kuo and I wrote “Instructional Design Guidelines for Advancing Self-Sustaining Online Higher Education in the USA” based on the 101 DL pilot program, comprised of Jessie Matthews, Kerry Folan, Billy Howell, Ben Brezner, and myself. For the project, Ying-Ying, an instructional designer with Stearns, developed a specific strategy for structuring online courses that would allow for successful implementation without drastically increasing our workload from semester to semester when we needed to make revisions or updates. By building a knowledge-based course structure (rather than simply skills-focused) and by building in flexibility via modular and context-around-context design strategies, we were able to deliver the class in many different variations with minimal maintenance work, thus leaving more time for us to focus on teaching and interacting with our students. We tried to envision the course more like a Lego-structure, where the modules are easily moveable.  

In the article, we advocate that the impact of contextual influences on online higher education should be assessed when an online course is first initiated. Three instructional design guidelines—building a knowledge‐based course structure, preparing flexibility in design, and promoting adjustability in modular design—are introduced in this paper. An example of how a first‐year English composition (FYC) fully online course design applied these guidelines is introduced, along with a checklist for designers.

Photo of Fitzpatrick and McCaughey

Fitzpatrick and McCaughey

I also co-authored "Hidden Arguments: Rhetoric and Persuasion in Diverse Forms of Technical Communication" with Jessica McCaughey, a chapter in "Effective Teaching of Technical Communication: Theory, Practice, and Application," edited by Michael J. Klein.  The chapter is about our project, the Archive of Workplace Writing Experiences.  We saw that a good deal of professional writing pedagogy and texts tend to pay lip service to rhetoric and persuasion (or ignore it altogether), and instead rely on generic advice about being concise, formal, and direct.  In interviewing a Labor and Delivery Nurse, a Physician Assistant, and a Certified Public Accountant, we found that professionals who are often asked to write in forms that are traditionally viewed as purely objective templates or documentation are actually faced with explicitly persuasive and argumentative writing tasks in those very forms.  A CPA has to tell "the saddest story the truth will allow" on behalf of a client to the IRS or a PA has to convince a Neurologist that a patient is exciting enough for his already heavy caseload. We make an argument for more complex rhetorical and persuasive assignments in the classroom to better prepare college writers for the complexities of the real-world workplace. 

Photo of Ben Orlando

Ben Orlando 

I have a lot of ideas, and writing is a great way to explore the constant “what if” questions popping into my mind: what if a man contemplating suicide received a phone call from a stranger looking for a detective? This “what if” is the premise of my recent novel, An Experiment in Delusion, for which I hope to have a home in the next few months. The hardest thing for me is to fully explore the twisting, pulsing layers of humanity that accompany my crazy plots. It is hard because I need to explore myself to better help my characters, and I am not yet an expert in this area.  

Sometimes it’s hard to balance writing and teaching, but a set schedule each day helps a lot. I give myself attainable goals, and if I decide to do more, that’s great. I also try to write early in the morning and finish my writing/editing before I move on to other tasks. This order helps me tap into my creativity and drive in an area where I don’t really have external factors.

Another forthcoming publication, “If Your Cat Gives You a Look Before Jumping,” is a dark comedic piece about a young man who believes he drove his girlfriend’s cat toward suicide. By writing prescriptive poems and searching for the cat each day, he hopes to make amends, but over time the search turns into something else.

Photo of Steph Liberatore

Steph Liberatore 

I recently published “Fat Lip” in the Cream City Review, a journal produced by the PhD program in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  

I wrote a first draft of this essay 10 years ago. It’s about a time I busted my lip while playing touch football at my father’s funeral after-party. I worked on it in fits and starts over the years, and then put it down for longer than I’d care to admit! But I came back to it over the summer—a time of year when I try to focus more on my own creative work—and was happy to have it find a home at CCR.  

Now I’m mostly working on my first book, Salvage: A Memoir. I do big chunks of writing and revision in the summer, when I have more time, and some revision during the school year. As someone who teaches writing, I feel it’s important to be engaged in the act myself to keep my own ‘blind spots’ at bay.

Photo of James Savage

James Savage

I co-authored the recently published The Metacognitive Student: How to Teach Academic, Social, and Emotional Intelligence in Every Content Area with Richard K. Cohen, Deanne Kildare Opatosky, Susan Olsen Stevens, and Edward P. Darrah.  Working with this team of authors was really a pleasure; we each brought a different area of expertise, and everyone was very kind and supportive. My great friend Rick Cohen has been working on structured self-questioning for over ten years, and he brought us all together.

Although educators generally agree on the importance of metacognition and social emotional learning, they often don’t feel that they have the time to cultivate these skills in their classrooms. The Metacognitive Student offers educators at any level a metacognitive strategy, structured self-questioning, that students can use when they encounter any challenge—whether it be social, emotional, or academic. By using and eventually internalizing these steps and questions for all types of challenges, students develop and hone essential life skills, such as metacognition, social and emotional intelligence, and the ability to transfer their learning within content areas and across contexts, all without the need for additional instructional time.

The cover of The Metacognitive Student

I enjoyed being a part of the writing and publishing process from beginning to end. I saw firsthand how collaboration, not only among the writers, but between the writers and the publishing company, can take the burden off one individual and move the project along smoothly. At first, I wasn't sure five authors would be able to write with one voice, but in the end, I think we succeeded at explaining structured self-questioning cohesively across many different contexts.

If you have published or edited a work recently, please send us a note—we’d love to feature you.