Theme courses are a common practice despite their limited presence in composition scholarship, which contributes to a fractured understanding of the theme course’s purpose and place in the discipline. This article offers an aggregate picture of theme (or topic) based courses based on disparate scholarly publications and affirmed by data collected through an online survey of writing instructors and program administrators. To trace the theme course within our disciplinary tradition and as a continuing practice, this article defines the theme course, distinguishing between writing as subject matter and theme content as a form of reinforcement. It furthermore historicizes the theme course’s limited life in scholarship, synthesizing key features of theme course practice, reinforced by survey responses. Ultimately, this article offers a framework for reflective practice that all theme course practitioners can use for developing, implementing, and evaluating their teaching methods. The underlying argument is that theme courses can support learning about writing, so long as theme selection and implementation work in purposeful support of the course’s learning about writing goals.
The Theme Course: Speculating on Its History, Surveying Current Practice, and Encouraging a Reflective Methodology
Michal Horton researches the pedagogical and curricular implications of using thematic course content to structure students’ learning about writing. She also offers writing consultation services for start-up companies out of Station Houston. She is a clinical assistant professor in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, where she teaches business communication.
Michal Horton; The Theme Course: Speculating on Its History, Surveying Current Practice, and Encouraging a Reflective Methodology. Pedagogy 1 January 2021; 21 (1): 135–157. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-8692737
Download citation file: