ePortfolio as a Tool for Reflecting on Rhetoric across Disciplines Liberal Arts Cluster, LaGuardia Community College

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ePortfolio as a Tool for Reflecting on Rhetoric across Disciplines
Liberal Arts Cluster, LaGuardia Community College

Is it possible to deepen students’ understanding of the
formal power of rhetoric by making it the theme of an
interdisciplinary learning community? To investi gate, The
Persuasive Note, a liberal arts cluster with a shared rhetorical
approach, was launched at LaGuardia in 2009. Student
refl ecti ons on rhetoric vis-a-vis their coursework, educati on
and lives were elicited and collected on the students’ ePortfolios.
Results, methodology and musings will be shared.
• Gary Richmond, Lecturer

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  • 1. ePortfolio as a Tool for Reflecting on Rhetoric across Disciplines Gary Richmond Humanities Department LaGuardia Community College The City University of New York
  • 2.  
  • 3. The Persuasive Note (A liberal arts cluster involving a shared rhetorical approach) Public Speaking Introduction to Music Composition I The Research Paper Integrating hour
  • 4. LaGuardia’s Learning Communities
    • Liberal Arts Clusters (1976)
    • New Student House (1991)
    • ESL Pairs and Clusters (1990)
    • First Year Academies (2001)
    • Quantum Leap Math Academies (2008)
  • 5. The question we put to ourselves: “Can we broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the formal power of rhetoric by making it the theme of our cluster?”
  • 6.  
  • 7. A student’s reflection on her original connotation of rhetoric
    • “ Rhetoric is a boring method used only in oratory. Unbelievably, this was my conception of rhetoric before studying it in the persuasive note cluster.”
  • 8.  
  • 9.  
  • 10. Reflection on first hearing the expression ‘ rhetoric’ in the cluster
    • “ Before taking the cluster of courses rhetoric . . . generally meant nothing [to me]. I had no clue as to what it meant. Every time it was mentioned in class I would get all fuzzy as to the meaning of it.”
  • 11. One student’s ‘working definition’ of rhetoric a few weeks into the semester
    • “ [Rhetoric is] a powerful notion of how we get our thoughts and feelings across to others” .
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15. Methodology
  • 16. Our basic tool to elicit reflections on rhetoric An ePortfolio ‘Reflections’ page on students’ ePortfolios for depositing critical and creative reflections on rhetoric in our disciplines and interdisciplinarily.
  • 17.  
  • 18. The Center for Teaching and Learning
  • 19.  
  • 20.  
  • 21. A discipline specific reflection
    • Public Speaking: “[While] rhetoric is used every time we try to express our ideas . . . its use . . . in public speaking is very clear because it shows how Cicero’s five canons and Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals help in structuring and delivering a message. The canons and appeals are helping me in the building of a strong case where I can be more persuasive by having valid arguments, an understandable arrangement, an ornamental style, an effective use of memory, and an eloquent delivery.”  
  • 22. Discipline specific reflection
    • Music: “Music composers [. . .] intend to create powerful music to persuade the audience to listen and like their compositions . . .    Since the purpose is to create unique, logical, powerful, and beautiful music . . .  to captivate and influence an audience, rhetoric, the art of persuasion and its elements, plays an important role in this process.”  
  • 23. Comparing/contrasting rhetoric in different disciplines
    • “ Rhetoric in English . . . is different from that of music and speech because it is not a presentation. It is not heard by the ear. It is seen by the eye. The structure and style is different. The way that it is received by the person is more personal [in the sense that] you can always go back and look at it again.”
  • 24.  
  • 25. Transdisciplinary ‘secondary illusions’
    • “ Susanne Langer . . . spoke of there being two different types of illusions in art, primary illusions [such as] the colors in painting; and secondary illusions, [such as] “color” in music. The idea of a secondary illusion of art in music goes further than just color. These illusions are what give a piece of music its own musical identity .”
  • 26. A student’s extrapolation of rhetoric into mathematical and scientific domains
      • “ It is interesting to see how rhetoric is not only present in music, composition, and oratory, but also in an exact science like mathematics. Learning about rhetoric in this cluster has made me realize that the formulation and testing of a hypothesis . . . is like the use of a theme, instances, and conclusions in a musical composition; or a thesis statement and supporting details in an essay or speech.”
  • 27. Charles S. Peirce – The founder of philosophical pragmatism developed by William James, John Dewey, and others, argued that the methodology of scientific inquiry represents a kind of theoretical rhetoric.
  • 28. Rhetoric seen in non-academic activities
      • “ One of the things I learned about rhetoric was that it can be applied to almost anything. It turns out that some of my favorite hobbies draw from a rhetorical rule book.”
  • 29.  
  • 30. (tentative) Results of our inquiry to date
  • 31.  
  • 32. A student reflection late in the term:
    • “ Through my participation in the cluster I have learned that rhetoric is a useful tool in order to enhance my communication skills. Its figures, appeals, canons, and elements have helped me understand how to structure and deliver a clear and persuasive message. What we write, say, or express has more power if we use rhetorical methods and means in the communication process.”
  • 33.  
  • 34. Rhetoric: The Missing Link in education? “ Though weeks ago I didn’t even notice its absence, rhetoric is a sorely missed aspect of elementary education. Grade school [and high school] teaches one to write [and speak] mechanically functional [and] stylistically pleasing prose. Unfortunately, one is never [taught] how to give these properly spelled [and] pleasant sounding words any impact. Rhetoric is the missing element to give a work the needed “ oomph” to get a point across.”
  • 35. Future research
      • First we need to inquire into the specific ways and the extent to which studying rhetoric impacts the quality of student work.
      • Further assessment can be achieved by, in English for example, evaluating student achievement on the final exam in the light of their first diagnostic essay.
      • Comparable assessment models can also be applied in our speech and music courses.
  • 36. “ I love rhetoric and learning about it.”  
  • 37. Special thanks to the co-author of “The Rhetoric of Teaching and Learning Rhetoric,” John Silva, to our cluster colleague, Gustavo Moretto, and to the peer readers and editors of In Transit: The LaGuardia Journal of Teaching and Learning .
  • 38.  
  • 39.