The English department has a new book to read, but this time the author is one of its own professors.
Paul Walker, associate professor of English, recently published a book with Hampton Press titled “Writing in Context: Composition in First-Year Learning Communities.”
Walker, who based the book on his work as a doctoral student, described it as a monograph, or a book that could be used for graduate students studying theoretical approaches to writing.
While the book is intended for faculty members and prospective faculty members, the first-year learning communities discussed in the book include students, too.
First-year learning communities, not currently used in classes at Murray State, are designed similarly to the residential colleges.
The communities allow students to choose to be in a specific group with a faculty member and are able to connect better through various activities.
“The first year becomes this intellectually stimulating experience for the students but it also really highlights the community element among the faculty and students who are involved,” Walker said. “They do grow closer. Even though we do not have those officially on campus, I think it’s nice to have opportunities for faculty to get to know students.”
Walker has published several articles while a professor here, but this is his first book.
He said he intends to work on other projects including articles and hopes to help edit another book.
Walker said he creates strong bonds with students outside of the classroom, similar to the first-year learning communities described in his book.
Walker maintains his involvement on campus by interacting with students in various organizations and said he sees student and teacher interaction outside of the classroom as a good opportunity to create connections.
“I love to be involved as much as I can with students on campus,” he said. “I participate with the honors program, and I teach honors courses occasionally. I have had a good relationship with other student organizations like the Murray Environmental Student Society group.”
Walker’s participation with Murray Environmental Student Society, also known as MESS, stems from his involvement with sustainability efforts, and Walker also teaches a class about environmental literature.
Additionally, Walker said he assists students with writing and editing their own material for publishing.
“I’ve had two undergraduate students who I’ve worked with and co-authored works that have been published,” he said.
The students, graduate Elizabeth Meyers and senior Kellie Money, worked with Walker to research and develop their material.
Money, whose work will be published later this month, authored much of her work. However, Walker assisted in altering and finding a place for Money to submit her publication.
Walker said faculty can help undergraduate students get their work published, which can help them prepare for and be accepted into graduate school.
“That’s another way I think that faculty can interact with students in a really interesting way,” Walker said. “There are quite are few opportunities for undergraduate students to publish their undergraduate journals. I enjoy working with students who are interested in doing a little extra work to put something in publishable form.”
Story by Mary Bradley, Staff Writer