Lee Rumbarger

Teaching Engagement Program, Office of the Provost and English

leona@uoregon.edu | 541-346-2110

Courses: Writing 121; Introduction to Fiction; Modern Fiction; Gender and Modernism; Writer, Teacher, Student, Scholar

In my classes you will:

  • Practice foundational, transferable skills.
  • Develop a significant project that will challenge you and make you proud.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

Perhaps the most important thing to me as a teacher is to give my students a sense of confidence and power to use their reading and writing skills for things that matter to them. I always offer choices about what texts they read and write about—learning how to read closely and between the lines isn’t just about the works of literature on my reading list—these skills will serve my students in all kinds of contexts and I like to invite them to decide at least one place to apply them. So, for example, I often invite students to write about books for films that weren’t on the syllabus but, in their view, should have been, or to capture ways they see the issues in our readings playing out in their daily lives.

And I give lots of feedback on student writing, often as letters to my students, because the power of each and every one of my students’ voices matters to me. I want to engage with their ideas and show them exactly the moves that matter in academic writing—while always giving them chances to break the rules.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I’m the director of UO’s Teaching Engagement Program, which means I am incredibly lucky in the amount of time I get to spend talking with wonderful colleagues and reading about teaching and learning. Some of the work I’m proudest of has been to better define teaching excellence through broad but substantive principles like inclusive, engaged, and research-led, and then to work with UO colleagues—especially the TEP team and members of Teaching Academy and its board—to consider policy, the curriculum, even campus spaces through the lens of teaching and learning. UO has a very strong teaching culture and that’s driving core education renewal, reform of our teaching evaluation practices, and our approaches to the UO first-year experience.

I recently published a chapter about some of my UO teaching in MLA’s new volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of Gertrude Stein. One of my aspirations is not just to be conversant in research on how people learn and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), but also to help generate new knowledge and ideas about teaching and for TEP to support UO faculty and graduate students as they develop SoTL projects.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

I regularly do “think-alouds” and Mad-Libs-style fill in the blank exercises to pull back the curtain on how experts in my field approach problems. I show students how to think and write like a literary critic and give lots of low stakes chances to practice—not just make them guess!

Every graded assignment students get from me is transparently designed—I explain its purpose, process for completion, and criteria for evaluation before they do any work—research indicates that will help students perform better. And I know that student motivation comes from their sense that they’re working on something relevant, they know how to be effective, and they are supported in my classroom—I always work to make sure our classes are motivating.

Favorite movie about teaching:

Dead Poet’s Society—I love to deconstruct the idea of a “magical” teacher.

What are you reading right now?

I’m mom to a four year old—books for her are piled by every comfy chair in our home and crowding me as I type this. We think we’re becoming real connoisseurs! The best ones can make a kid laugh; don’t spell out a moral or lesson, but do explore complicated feelings; have real action… Ellis’s Du Iz Tak (written entirely in the language of bugs); Agee’s Terrific; and Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea are favorites.