Down with Essays!

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.18.02This term I gave my students in English 410 (Elizabethan Poetry + Prose) an unconventional assignment. For their final critical papers, they had to make a compelling and effective argument about poetry’s function and purpose, and cite primary evidence from the poets and critics we read this term (Spenser, Sidney, Whitney, et al.)

The key feature of these papers is that they couldn’t be, well, papers: they had to adopt any form that would lend itself to a critical argument, so long as it was not an essay. I used Daniel O’Donnell’s model, as I’ve done in the past, and as my friend Ryan Cordell has, too.

The Unessay Assignment set my students the task of thinking outside the essay-shaped box that their education has taught them, and adopting the rhetorical form that would best present their argument. That meant any form or media — except a conventional research essay — that makes a compelling and effective argument using textual evidence. Continue reading

Faculty of Arts Teaching Awards

The Faculty of Arts Teaching Awards acknowledge teaching excellence as critically important to our faculty; they recognize undergraduate and graduate teaching in the areas of classroom instruction, course design, curriculum development, and innovation in teaching methods. Excellent teachers are individuals who exhibit zest for teaching and instill a love of learning, stimulate critical thinking in their students, create an engaging learning experience, and are innovative and creative in their teaching methods, course design, and curriculum development. Continue reading

Teaching + Learning News 1.01


The first in a series of occasional reports from the world of higher-education teaching and learning, as viewed from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts: faculty development, student engagement, and a vague sense of things to come.

By Michael Ullyot, Associate Dean (Teaching + Learning): saving you from unnecessary e-mails since 2014. Continue reading

Desire2Learn and the Faculty of Arts


On May 31st, Blackboard will be no more, and Desire2Learn (D2L) will take its place.

Desire2Learn is the new platform for online and blended learning at the University of Calgary. It’s a leading-edge and robust learning management system from a Canadian software company, designed to work well on any modern web browser, on any computer or mobile operating system. It’s used by both K-12 school boards in Calgary, by most private schools in the city, and nearly every all post-secondary institution (except MRU). Continue reading