Author Archives: J. Elizabeth Clark

Review of 88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric

88 Open Essays: A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric by Tina Ulrich & Sarah Wangler

Creative Commons License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, although some pieces in the collection carry their own license, which supersedes the overall collection’s licensing. This is not an issue for individual classroom use, but might be a consideration in the case of a wider distribution.

Organized around Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” this anthology presents 88 essays from different rhetorical situations on a wide-ranging set of topics. The diverse collection of essays can be searched by thematic topic or by composition element / strategy. 

The collection is organized alphabetically but is also supported by hashtags to easily identify content. The complete list of hashtags for this book includes: ” #advice #analysis #argument #artsandculture #automotive #business #causalargument #civilrights #cognitivebias #currentevents #descriptive #disinformation #environment #ethos #finances #generations #global #health #heroes #intellectualproperty #kairos #language #logos #millennials #nature #pathos #politics #proposalargument #reportinginformation #research #review #scholarly #science #selfdiscovery #sharedvalues #systemanalysis #technology #writinglife”

Differently from some collections that rely on student work because of copyright issues, all of the articles in this collection are drawn from online magazines with open access policies. These essays come from published writers and researchers and provide a good range of interesting topics for discussions in class and potential student essay assignments. The use of published authors is a definite draw for this collection.

Because of the extensive nature of the collection, this resource also offers the possibility of inviting students to choose readings, individually or in small groups, that are of specific interest to them. For example, one group of students could pursue inquiry into climate change while another group focuses on civil rights and a third group of students focuses on cognitive bias. Often, a themed reader prescribes the focus for the semester, at a detriment to students who are not interested in that theme. Use of this collection will additionally allow for further student engagement in the course.

This collection fully replaces a textbook that students might purchase with the exception of:

  1. grammar or style lessons which can be supplemented by instructor-created materials and sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL);
  2. specific writing assignments which can be created by instructors;
  3. scaffolding for the writing process, which can be supplemented by sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (The OWL).

One drawback to this collection is that while currently relevant, some essays may not “age” well. 

Overall, this is a very well-designed, versatile collection of essays that can be immediately embedded in a rhetoric and composition classroom. It’s an excellent option for writing classrooms and for transitioning fully to OER resources.

Resource Reviewed by:

J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

English Department OER Initiative

Evelyn Burg and J. Elizabeth Clark


OER materials for ENA 101 and ENG103:  Project Summary

Background: Several members of the English Department applied for a NYS grant proposal to create OER course materials in 2017-18. We felt that it was time to begin to offer OER resource materials to the department in order to support teaching and learning in a new way.

We know that our students resist buying texts due to financial constraints and general inconvenience, something that has only heightened due to the pandemic. We also know that many of our adjunct faculty colleagues are often charged to teach a course at the last minute and thus having a text was useful. As a department, we periodically vetted and chose textbooks, but this was a time-consuming and limited process. Many full-time faculty did not use these textbooks, which led to further stratification in the department.

We did not receive the first grant in 2017, but our chairperson, Linda Chandler, suggested we submit again in 2019-20; this time we were successful.

We have four required English classes: ENG101 (Intro to Composition and Research) two alternatives/replacements, ENA101 (our Accelerated Learning Program), and ENG259 (Technical Writing); ENG102 (Writing through Literature); and finally, ENG103 (The Research Paper).  Our OER group believes that Open Educational Resources will provide a much-needed solution to these issues and will offer an attractive option for all faculty to consider as they build their courses for Fall 2021.

All of these courses stress research and integration of sources to promote a student-generated thesis. We intend this repository to serve as a space where these courses are all understood as stages in a sequence, each with instructional goals that finally cohere in the central programmatic learning goals of LaGuardia’s Writing Program, a long-time goal of our department and our Writing Program Administrators. We also want to present a core rationale to students about the importance of writing across a range of courses. 

As a group, we have collaboratively created a set of materials that includes:

  • A preliminary table of contents for our repository;
  • An Introduction with a rationale for OER and the through-line of these courses;
  • Library guides and explanations of OER;
  • Ways to find, select and evaluate OER materials;
  • An OER “toolkit”;
  • Relevant scholarship and sources on pedagogical approaches;
  • Course objectives for each course;
  • Sample annotated syllabi with specific OER materials for each course;
  • A cross-course module (an exercise or learning tool that could be used in all of the target courses;
  • Three selected course textbooks for each course that suit our writing program and our students;
  • and supplemental OER materials and Creative Commons licensed media.

This work is currently in a shared Google Drive and we are in the process of moving it over to a WordPress site, where the materials will be openly accessible.

We presented on this initiative in our March 2021 department meeting to inform and engage the department in this initiative. Following that presentation, we recruited faculty for the next step in our OER work.

In June, we will host a training for 12 faculty members in the Department of English to introduce them to OER, share our OER toolkit, introduce them to the resources on our website, and to meet in course-specific smaller groups to discuss the sample materials for that course. Participants will then use some of these materials in their Fall 2021 course design. Each of these participants will share at least 1 OER resource that they develop for our OER site, building on the foundational work from this year.

In this OER seminar, Evelyn and Liz have deepened their work, started with the larger group (explained above), focusing on annotating syllabi for ENA 101 and ENG 103. As part of that work, we have focused on thinking about how we will help faculty to search for relevant OER materials, how we will make materials accessible on our site, and how we will work with creative commons licenses. We have already shared what we are learning with our larger OER grant group and plan to continue to share it in our June training for the English Department.