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Thursday, June 23 • 16:10 - 17:00
CON09.15 - Rhetoric in and of the Active Learning Classroom

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This interactive session will explore links between recent changes in pedagogy and in rhetorical theory, suggesting that concerns about the role of faculty in active learning may benefit from a rhetorical analysis of power structures in new and old pedagogies. A method native to the humanities, rhetorical analysis, suggests a way to reframe the questions sometimes raised by humanists to the efficacy and ethics of active learning.

Recently the evidence for the efficacy of active learning has become clear, most clearly in STEM (Freedman et al. 2014). Yet some instructors, often in the humanities, have pushed back in defense of lecturing. Burgan (2006) argues that active learning boosters use a flawed model of both learner and instructor, overlooking and devaluing the latter’s role; Anderson (2011) argues that what SoTL scholars have been dismissing is not lecturing but bad lecturing.

This session suggests that Perelman’s (1982) contrast between speaker-centred rhetoric and audience-centred rhetoric provides a model for a rhetorical analysis of the pedagogical situation.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Understand theoretical links between active learning and Perelman’s New Rhetoric;

  2. Evaluate the power dynamics of rhetorical situations;

  3. Identify rhetorical aspects of active learning and the lecture;

  4. Analyze lecturing and active learning as rhetorical activities.

Anderson, J. M. (2011). Speak that I may see thee, or the elements of effective lecturing. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 36.2, 59-69.

Burgan, M. (2006). In Defense of Lecturing. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 38:6, 30-34.

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111.23, 8410-8415.

Perelman, C. (1982). The realm of rhetoric. Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press.


Chester Scoville

Chester Scoville is an Assistant Professor in the Teaching Stream in the Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto Mississauga.

Thursday June 23, 2016 16:10 - 17:00 EDT
UCC 66 (WALS, Sponsored by Nelson)