Dr. Christopher Ervin
Composition Director and Assistant Professor
Office: Cherry Hall 100B
Introduction to College Writing; Writing in the Disciplines, Argument and Analysis, Writing Instruction Practicum
Ethnographic study of Coe College Writing Center in Cedar Rapids, IA; administration of and professional development of faculty teaching writing online; undergraduate research in writing centers
Administrative Responsibilities and Service
General Education English faculty professional development and administration, including writing program assessment; writing in the disciplines; GTA supervision; adjunct faculty supervision; administration of online writing courses (Gen Ed); General Education Revision Task Force; Composition Committee
National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Steering Committee; International Writing Centers Association Executive Board & Web Editor; Writing Lab Newsletter and Writing Center Journal reviewer
Christopher Ervin earned his BA (1996) and MA (2000) in English-Literature from Middle Tennessee State University and PhD (2004) in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of Louisville. Before coming to WKU, Dr. Ervin held a position as Director of Freshman Writing and Writing Center Director at the University of South Dakota, where he was highly involved in preparing graduate teaching assistants and writing consultants to teach and tutor writing. Currently, Dr. Ervin is continuing his work in composition pedagogy and administration in his position as Director of Composition at WKU, where he works primarily with part-time and full-time faculty who teach General Education English. His research and professional service activities remain focused on writing center pedagogy and research, specifically undergraduate research in writing centers.
Teaching gives me the opportunity to awaken in my students the same insatiable curiosity about the world that has led to my embrace of lifelong learning. As I have advanced from undergraduate writing tutor to graduate teaching assistant, and now to a faculty member and writing program administrator, I have aligned my philosophy of teaching with the goals of a liberal arts education. I urge my students to consider almost any challenge they face as they advance through college as an opportunity to solve a puzzle, to push an idea through to its end, to learn more than is necessary about why things are the way they are, and how they might be otherwise.
I understand that not all of my students are eager to move leisurely through their undergraduate programs, even to stall for a time in order to “play” (academically) like I did during my six year undergraduate education. Thus, I do my best to ignite a passion for learning in my students and advisees, to persuade them that the few years they spend in college have the potential to open doors that might lead them down very different paths, a far cry from their best-laid plans when they began freshman year as pre-med or pre-law, for instance. However, with the knowledge that most of my students are moving steadfastly and deliberately through the undergraduate curriculum, taking a direct path toward a career far from the reaches of academia, I understand that it is my job to send them out with the critical thinking and analytical skills that will help them compete for those post-baccalaureate positions.
Above all else, my philosophy of teaching and learning is grounded in reflective, ongoing self-assessment. I constantly examine the assumptions underlying the goals I set for each course, and I rely on my students’ responses, in the form of written evaluations and verbal feedback, third-week quick assessments and end-of-semester student opinion surveys, to challenge those assumptions and to help me reconsider my pedagogical goals. In this manner, I am both teacher and learner, as are my students.
An effective writing program or writing center administrator supports and encourages new and veteran teachers and tutors of writing to advance as reflective practitioners, facilitates professional development of writing program and writing center staff, conducts meaningful assessments of undergraduate programs, seeks support for faculty and staff to conduct research and travel to present their work at regional and national conferences, and advocates for the writing program and writing center across campus and in the community. Although much of the labor of writing program and writing center administration is managerial, clerical, and supervisory in nature, the intellectual and pedagogical work is what energizes me on a daily basis and for the long haul. As a classroom teacher, I potentially enrich the lives of several dozen student writers; as a writing program administrator, I can make positive changes to teaching and learning for entire cohorts of students, a responsibility I take quite seriously.
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