John Stenzel's Home Page

Office: 379 Voorhies Hall
I'm now officially retired, but still kicking!
Email address: jastenzel (add the

I have retired after twenty-three years as a Lecturer, with my appointment having moved from the English Department to the University Writing Program. My most recent administrative position was Assistant Director for Writing Across the Curriculum, from 2009 to 2013. I served from 2004-2008 as the Assistant Director for Upper Division / Faculty Development. From 1994-97 I served as the Coordinator for the Computers in Composition Program, which runs about 75 classes a year in the four Macintosh classrooms on campus. I've been a presenter at many renditions of the Summer Institute on Technology and Teaching, usually in the role of resident curmudgeon who actually wants this technology to work rather than waste time and money; I participated in the Chancellor's Fall Conference on Information Technology in September 1996, and was selected to serve on the Provost's Commission on the Future of Information Technology. I served three years as the first Academic Federation representative on the Academic Computing Coordinating Council, and served on the Steering Committee of the Council as well. I also served as a technical consultant and active participant in a now-defunded UC Office of the President-sponsored project called UCWRITE, the UC Online Writing Institute .

In helping to see the Writing Program become a reality instead of a casualty of previous administration policies, I have had several op-ed pieces published in both the student newspaper and the UC Davis staff newsletter. These pieces include "What's in a Name?" addressing the caste differences between lecturers and professors at this campus; "The Strike is Not What is Hurting Students", a perspective on the October 2002 lecturers' strike; "When Deans Can't Quote Straight" on the expanded use of temporary post-doc fellow positions at Davis; and "Truly Shared Governance Demands Greater Role of Federation Faculty."

I taught a mixture of specialized advanced-composition courses, mostly Legal Writing and Technical Writing, but filled literature / language course openings as well. In every comp class my goal is to provide a rigorous approach to non-academic writing tasks, such as letters, reports, and memoranda; click here for a useful checklist. In all my teaching I try to integrate technological tools in the service of learning, though I strike a balance on the side of effectiveness and simplicity rather than flash or gratuitous "technopedagogy." Here are some selected web archives and course syllabi: English 180, Children's Literature, Fall 2005; English 117A, Shakespeare--The Early Works, Spring 2001; American Studies 151, American Landscapes & Places (Yosemite special topic), Fall 2000; English 46C, Masterpieces of Brit Lit 1832-present, Spring 2000

In Spring 1998 I taught another rendition of the CWC's successful "Demystifying the Dissertation" courses, two English 298 seminars designed to help thesis and dissertation writers move through this initiation rite and emerge into the wonderful world of degreed academia. I have collected my predecessor Mardena Creek's work, including her 1997 syllabus, on a Thesis / Dissertation page, and updated the master page to reflect the two new seminars I did that Spring, one for humanities / social sciences graduate students, and the other for scientists and engineers. I just did another rendition of this seminar, Grammar / Sentence Crafting for Graduate Students in Spring of 2003 and 2004; visit the site and fill out the online form to advise of your interest in courses such as these, as funding for future renditions may depend on demonstrated demand from students and faculty.

I have more than twenty years of experience in computer-assisted instruction, dating back to the earliest days, when we tried to teach writing on Unix-cursed minicomputers using the Vi editor and nroff formatter! In recent years I have been developing ways to teach composition and critical-thinking skills, using electronic communication as well as the networked computer classrooms themselves; here's a link to an overview or outline of CAI in the composition classroom. An editorial published in our IT Times contains some of my musings on the nature of computer literacy, and the need for improved technical communications.

In 1996 I proposed and taught a special topic in English 104A (Technical Writing), with emphasis on computer documentation. Students in my class learned the craft of writing in a real-world setting, with deadlines and teamwork and draft critiques. Teams developed and revised user documentation for existing programs and for some software under development, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the excitement generated in this class. I later worked with a group of Lab Management Site Attendants in a directed study 198 course, with the aim of enhancing LM's role in documenting frequently used programs and procedures. A more recent IT Times piece detailed my use of the myucdavis student access portal as a part of my tech writing curriculum.

I have integrated campus-oriented documentation and reporting tasks into all my 104A classes, and some of the resulting documentation was folded into the Computer Classroom Instructor's Guide. These classes and I are continuing to work with UCD faculty and IT to improve documentation and provide vital practical experience. Student reports on other institutions' computer ownership requirements helped advise the AC4 Education Subcommittee in its development of UCD's Student Computer Ownership Expectation, and other results have been presented to attendees at Summer Institutes on Technology and Teaching. Here's WebChat documentation generated by students in my Winter 2001 English 104A class, and edited for web publication by Sara Jost in a Spring 2001 independent study.

An Undergraduate Instructional Improvement Program grant helped support the challenging task of revising and updating our Computer Classroom Instructor's Guide. This manual, which formerly addressed only Mac classroom activities, broadened its scope to reflect improvements in electronic communication.

As a technically minded "word person" I enjoy the challenge of communicating difficult concepts in layman's terms. Because of the English Department's move to networked quarters in Voorhies, I was called upon to provide networking advice, and recognizing the need for an understandable layman's guide to the complex terminology, I developed a Glossary of Network Terms, which IT someday will integrate into its own user resources; Another glossary, part of the Instructor's guide, is also Web accessible; future versions of these gloassary will be fully permutive, and thus more useful as learning tools.

With help from Tim Leamy of IT-Lab Management I produced several briefing documents on the challenges and opportunities of computer-classroom instruction, some of which are still pertinent for readers interested in the pedagogical impacts of technological change. The include: "Composition Program's Concerns Regarding Computer Classrooms", "The MS-Word 6 Upgrade and Its Impacts: Reflections on Cost, Cause and Effect, and IT Culture", and "Some Notes on Computer-Classroom Design and Configuration", .

Because of my interdisciplinary experience teaching adjunct English 102 courses with teachers in other departments, I have worked with many pioneers in CAI at UCDavis, including writing courses with Geoffrey Wandesforde-Smith (Environmental Law), Richard Walters (Intro to Computers), Jim Quinn (Environmental Analysis) and Ben Orlove (Cultural Ecology). These long-term observations have proven to be tremendously valuable in ascertaining which technologies are most appropriate in which ways.

Besides committee work, current projects include refining techniques for using electronic communication in teaching literature, and running discussion sections in computer classrooms. In Spring 1996 I taught a Shakespeare course (ENL 117A) with a successful newsgroup and e-mail component; I also offered a special 198 discussion session in the Olson 247 classroom, making extensive use of the Daedalus conferencing software to encourage students to draft, critique each other's drafts, and revise on line; more recently I have adapted and improved these techniques for use with UCD's own WebChat utility . See the individual class web pages for samples and information, and feel free to contact me for more detail.

In my other life: I live in Berkeley, where I sing in the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, a semiprofessional chorus, and play Baroque recorder music with my wife, Amelie, a piano teacher. and my brother Julius, a cellist She and I are the proud parents of Alexander for whom we give daily thanks. I also enjoy running, ski mountaineering, road biking, and mountain biking. In the past few years I have published articles in American Rowing, and have an essay in the CUNE press anthology, An Ear to the Ground: Presenting Writers from 2 Coasts, available in the UCD Bookstore.

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