Tag Article List: freshman composition

Using News to Start Class: How Small Daily Interactions Affect Larger Classroom Interactions

Laura Dumin
Associate Professor of English, University of Central Oklahoma
Edmond, OK, USA


In 2013, I added an extra credit assignment to my freshmen composition classes encouraging students to bring in news stories each class period; this assignment was designed to encourage students to be more willing to participate in classroom discussions. We then spent the first few minutes of each class discussing the stories they brought. After using this assignment for a few years, I had anecdotal evidence to suggest that my students were generally more talkative in class after the first week or two of sharing news. These experiences made me want to see if I could measure some change or document how students felt about discussing the news to start class. To that end, I developed a set of surveys to quantify this data. This article discusses the results of four semesters of survey and extra credit data from students bringing news stories to start their English classes. 

Keywords: student engagement, classroom management, teaching, freshman composition, SoTL, classroom discussions 

Author Bio 

Laura Dumin is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.  She teaches freshman composition and technical writing courses. She also advises MA Composition and Rhetoric students, is the Director of Technical Writing, and is the English Department Internship Advisor.

Suggested Citation 

Dumin, L. M. (2019). Using news to start class: How small daily interactions affect larger classroom interactions. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 6(3). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-3/using-news-to-start-class-how-small-daily-interactions-affect-larger-classroom-interactions/

Dumin, Laura M. “Using News to Start Class: How Small Daily Interactions Affect Larger Classroom Interactions.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol 6, no. 3, 2019. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-3/using-news-to-start-class-how-small-daily-interactions-affect-larger-classroom-interactions/

Download as PDF

Applications in the Classroom: Hardly Elementary—Frontiers for Freshman Composition with Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet

Kate M. Donley
Norwich University
Northfield, Vermont, USA



Three recent television and film adaptations testify to the continuing popularity of Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. The fast-paced novella that introduces detective duo Holmes and Watson, A Study in Scarlet involves some astonishing elements, and not just in the plot. With just a little probing, collegiate readers may wonder whether Conan Doyle plagiarized his most famous character, invented forensic science, despised Mormons, and accidentally wrote a Western.

The novel was adapted as A Study in Pink, the first episode of the BBC’s series Sherlock created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Their vision of Holmes set in present-day London will thrill students and also leave them wondering what happened to the second half of the novel. Beyond the predictable (yet exciting) classroom discussion topic of adaptation, A Study in Scarlet presents a rich context for research and discussion by challenging students’ modern-day notions of genre, historical truth, political correctness, and academic credibility. Although this novel is well-suited for high-level secondary or freshman composition classes, advanced students of English literature will find much to explore. This book analysis contains a summary of A Study in Scarlet with explication of its literary features and associated pedagogical issues for the freshman composition class. Topics for more advanced students are also identified. Instructors can make a free virtual casebook of ancillary readings with the Internet links provided.


Keywords: college composition, first-year writing, freshman composition, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, detective fiction, adaptation, pseudo-scholarship, fanfiction

Continue Reading →