Department Develops Successful New Themed Advanced English Course

Students looking for a greater challenge in their English courses can now enroll in an advanced writing-intensive course being offered by the Department of English.

In the fall of 2016, the department began offering English 290, an optional course for students who earned an AP score of 4 or 5 and thus received credit for English 101. English 290 offers a head-start in the skills students will be using in their more advanced courses.

Carrie Sheffield and Kelli MacCartey, both senior lecturers, served as the first teachers of the course. Like English 102, English 290 is individually themed by course section.

MacCartey, whose course topic was travel and transportation, said her students, who picked their own topics within the field, presented projects on a variety of subjects.

“There were projects on how diseases travel across borders, how information travels through the web, how the game of chess traveled across Europe from Russia, truck driver safety regulations, car safety seats for kids, and handicapped accessibility on public transportation,” said MacCartey. “I was really impressed with how they challenged themselves not only to approach the topic in an innovative way, but to challenge themselves by exploring topics that they weren’t already familiar with.”

Sheffield, whose course topic was human rights, also allowed her students to choose their own topics within the field. Sheffield said her class “investigated how business, religion, and politics serve as our foundation for understanding human rights, and how our attitudes toward the rights of others are also limited by those same sources.” Sheffield said her students not only learned to be better writers but also discovered how they could have “an active role in changing the world around them.”

Jeff Ringer, the director of composition, said, “the social situation for learning is significant in a class like 290. For advanced students who take 290 with other advanced students, they’ll be pushed by and learn from their peers, and that social element of learning can be as important as the instructor and course design.”

Ringer said the course “emphasizes research genres that are common across academia—research articles, abstracts, proposals. Students who complete that course are well prepared to do a lot of the writing they’ll be expected to do in majors ranging from engineering and the sciences to social sciences and the humanities.”

English 290 will be offered again this fall. MacCartey will be teaching both sections.

For more information about the course, contact Jeff Ringer at jeff.ringer@utk.edu.