Professional Development Program (PDP)

PDP has the specific goal of supporting all new Rhetoric teachers, along with the more general purpose (as its name suggests) of contributing to their long-term growth as educators. It is not a "training" program but a forum for dialogue among novice and experienced teachers learning from one another. The interdisciplinary nature of our department makes such exchange especially valuable.

The program, established in 1969, was recently singled out as a model of innovation by the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. Their report, "Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities," describes PDP as an example of what teaching apprenticeships for graduate students should become.

PDP starts off with a three-day workshop in August, the week before classes begin. Every new teacher belongs to an Advisory Group led by a faculty member and one or two experienced TAs. During this workshop, teachers begin developing general plans for the semester and detailed plans for the opening weeks, all in the context of discussions of larger issues--from rhetorical principles to pedagogical approaches.

These discussions begin a conversation about teaching that continues in the required PDP colloquium 3:30-5:20 Thursdays through Fall Semester.

Attendance and satisfactory performance in the August Workshop and Thursday colloquium are conditions of employment. New instructors must not register for courses that conflict with any part of the 3:30-5:20 Thursday period, including 2:30-3:45 classes. Students who wish to receive academic credit for PDP may enroll in RHET:5350 Colloquium: Teaching Rhetoric (3 s.h.), graded S/U.


Contact for Fall 2023 PDP questions: Katlyn O'Shaughnessy,