Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Enrique Reynoso
Dr. Enrique Reynoso, Jr., assistant professor of English writing, began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in fall 2016. He teaches Technical Writing; Writing, Editing and Publishing in Multiple Media; College Writing and News Writing, and is piloting Business Writing this spring. His main specialization is professional and technical writing, with a secondary area in minority rhetorics.
Reynoso was born in the Weslaco, Texas, part of the Rio Grande Valley region, just north of Mexico. He spent most of his life in Texas, graduating from high school in 2000 and earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas Pan American, now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, in 2007. Following, he worked for two years as a reporter for a weekly newspaper before being accepted into Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, for graduate school, where he received a Master of Arts in English in 2011 and a Ph.D. in English in 2016.
Outside of teaching, Reynoso has played guitar for about 21 years and likes to play and record music in his free time, though he says he really doesn’t do enough recording. He is an avid gamer and likes to spend the weekends playing Xbox with his fiancée.
What do you most enjoy about teaching and what is your main goal?
I enjoy the personalities of the students as they slowly become more comfortable talking in class. It’s always fun when you start to see students take ownership of the class and the work they do. My main goal is to get students to understand that stumbling is a part of the learning process: our brains don’t work in a linear progression and many times students can get frustrated with that. My hope is they leave my class with a better handle on how their individual writing and learning process works.
Can you explain your in-class invention exercises and how they benefit students?
One in-class exercise that I’ve had students work on is describing the path they took to get from their previous class to mine. Often students will default to using relative directions like “right” or “left,” but very little sensory descriptions or cardinal directions. Once they get to talk in groups, they start to understand the importance of detail, which is helpful for writers at every level.
How does the genre-based approach you use in the classroom benefit students?
I’ve found that students respond well when you show them the different “types” of writing found in the wild: internal reports and memos, technical instructions, TED talks, emails and texts are all different types of writing that everyone does regardless of their job. So, I like to frame the class, particularly Business and Technical Writing, around the different genres of writing they’re most likely to encounter: breaking the class into genre units like “technical descriptions” and “internal communication.” This way they realize that, whatever their vocation, there will be documentation and writing of some sort.
How does the Business Writing course you are piloting help prepare students for their future careers?
Business Writing is a course that allows students to analyze the different types of workplace writing: from postmortems to white papers to internal reports and even memos and emails, we work through how those documents function in their respective environments, particularly as they enter a more globalized workforce. It’s my hope that once they leave my class, they have the skills necessary for writing and communicating in a variety of contexts.
What causes are important to you and why?
Having grown up 10 miles north of Mexico, I’ve seen first-hand the difference an education makes in opening up opportunities for underrepresented students, which has influenced a lot of my research and professional activities. I’ve been a member of the Latin@ Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English for about five years now and I’ve also worked as an AVID and GEAR-UP tutor in the past.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program the helps prepare students for success in high school. It is particularly focused on helping middle of the road students: B, C and D students who often otherwise get overlooked take AVID as an elective where they can work in workshop/small group environments. GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is aimed at low-income students and helps prepare them for postsecondary education via one-on-one tutoring, college prep presentations on financing education, among many other things.
My teaching is informed by “invisible populations”: those who are often overlooked or not accounted for in society. I like to bring real-world cases into the classroom and have students develop documents that incorporate the perspective of those groups, so that students come to understand how important and powerful effective writing is and can be. As someone whose first language was Spanish, I also recognize the power of effective communication in international contexts, something that has become extremely important in a globalized economy.
Interview conducted by Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.