Teacher of the Week

Cynthia Camp

Associate Professor of English Literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

"Each person comes into the room with a different set of prior coursework, life experiences, and expectations."

The Center for Teaching and Learning recognizes Cynthia Camp as CTL Teacher of the Week. Camp is an Associate Professor of English Literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

As an associate professor of English Literature, Cynthia Camp prioritizes the kind of fundamental training that will allow her students to engage more deeply with the works they are studying.  Close reading of poetry, using secondary sources, and citing research are all necessary skills for those studying literature, but many students are never given direct instruction in these areas.  The reason, according to Camp, is twofold:  Most teachers assume that the students have received previous training in these areas, and they prefer to move on to a more advanced area.  To buck this trend, Camp makes the teaching of these fundamental skills a key part of her course design.  

Camp’s favorite teaching strategy involves the use of a worksheet of her own design which guides students through a reading of a piece of secondary criticism.  The worksheet prompts students to undertake the painstaking process of analyzing the argument made by a critical article.  Though this is challenging for the students, the payoff is great.  The class discussion that follows the assignment is more rigorous and energized than those in previous sessions.  In the longer term, students are far better equipped for their final research papers.  The effectiveness of her strategy is evinced by her student, Ty Stewart, who says “Her assignments sharpened many of my skills—from close reading to research—and her incisive feedback helped me recognize my good writing habits and excise my weak ones.”

Camp tries to avoid the assumption that what her students take away from her courses will align perfectly with the learning outcomes outlined in her syllabus.   “Each person comes into the room with a different set of prior coursework, life experiences, and expectations that inform how they will engage with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” she says.  As such, she allows her students a chance to draw their own conclusions about a text, which may or may not match up with the understanding she will ultimately guide them towards.  Doing so validates the experiences that the students bring to the table, and leaves open the possibility for Camp to learn from their interpretations, encompassing perspectives she hadn’t previously considered.

See Camp's departmental profile: https://faculty.franklin.uga.edu/ctcamp/Bio

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