About

Background

I'm an associate professor of ESL writing at Kean University, Union, NJ, USA, where I've been here teaching first-year composition primarily to non-native speakers of English—mostly immigrants who have attended U.S. public schools—since September, 2002. While a graduage student at The University of Texas at Austin, I taught basically the same course to international students and native speakers of English (1997-2002) and before then a mix of reading and writing to students in the Preparatory Program of Marmara University, Istanbul (1990-1994). In addition to first-year composition, I teach other writing, grammar, and sociolinguistic courses for native and non-native speakers.


Teaching and learning

Teaching composition and researching how people learn in general, and more specifically learn to write, is a lot of fun. In teaching my students, of course, I have to learn quite a bit myself. I've learned how to create web pages, maintain blogs and wikis, and syndicate feeds, and have my students use them so that we are forced to reflect: I on my teaching, learning, and research, and they on their learning. Using online tools facilitates more interaction among students, and thus more reading, writing, and learning.


Research and theory

As Einstein said, "We wouldn't call it research if we knew what we were doing." Much of the fun I have is figuring out how students (and I) learn and trying to formulate a theory to guide my practice. Theories influencing me considerably are radical constructivism, activity theory, and complexity theory. In particular, I have been thinking much more how John Holland's model of complexity theory can be applied in my classes to promote learning. My blog, Explorations in learning, reflects my thoughts in these areas and others.

©2006-2017 Charles P Nelson | Last updated February 4, 2017