Ben McCorkle, Associate Professor, English

Ben McCorkle is an Associate Professor of English. He teaches Arts of Persuasion, a lecture with 24 students; Digital Media Composing, a studio with 24 students; and Introduction to Literary Publishing, a seminar/workshop with 8 students.

Ben received the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2014 and has served as a member of the Academy of Teaching’s Executive Council since then.

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

Assuming you have your content down, and all of your objectives, goals, and method(s) of assessment clearly figured out, teaching is largely about performance: generating infectious enthusiasm for the material, modeling encouraging and supportive behavior to your students, and basically showing them what it’s like to be an intellectually engaged citizen of the university.

What book or article has shaped your work as a teacher? 

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire)–That book’s a cornerstone for many of us, I’m sure, but it still resonates loudly for me.

What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Leave things better than you found them.

Tell us about one of your favorite and most effective in-class activities or assignments. How do your students react?

Mock trials are typically fun (we stage trials based on contentious issues raised in course readings from time to time), especially since I have no real legal background, so we all pretty much wing it… and rely on our knowledge gleaned from procedural crime dramas like Law & Order. The class likes the role-playing, they get to dig into the readings in a fun way, and (most important of all), I’m entertained.

What tools or opportunities have you found most useful as you have developed your teaching?

As important as I find technology to be, I find informal conversations with colleagues (even those outside of my field—I’m on a regional campus) to be most impactful.

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? 

Despite appearances, I actually take my work very seriously.