Researching Research: English Department Welcomes Sarah Carter
As we wrap up the fall semester, the English Unbound team is excited to introduce a new faculty member, Sarah Carter! Though Carter currently lives in Columbia, S.C. with her family, she commutes to Clemson’s campus once a week to teach and interact with students. This semester Carter taught four courses: two business writing courses taught in a hybrid format and two technical writing courses taught fully online.
“I love teaching business writing. It’s so fun and it’s very practical,” Carter said. “We do things like resumes, cover letters and memorandums and things that you will need once you leave the university.”
Carter’s undergraduate degree is in psychology, and after college she spent two years working as a mental health therapist. She then returned to school to get her master’s in English with a focus in creative writing. While a graduate student, Carter realized her passion for teaching which led her to return to school to get her Ph.D. She has taught at a variety of institutions, including high schools, technical colleges, liberal arts colleges and universities. Carter is currently working towards obtaining her doctorate from Georgia State University while also fulfilling her teaching duties here at Clemson. Her research interests and dissertation focus on addressing and validating the obstacles of integrating primary research in first-year composition at Research I universities across the country. R1 is a category of university and higher learning institutions that have the highest level of research activity in the U.S.
“I love looking at what other writing programs are doing. I research what R1 universities are doing with their first-year programs and what research methods they are integrating,” Carter said.
Carter emphasized both the importance of researching other universities’ programs, as well as the sharing of information and processes that are proving successful. Communicating among R1 universities is vital to improving learning and outcomes.
“How we best help students succeed academically and professionally is not to just focus on one thing or pedagogy or discourse but to communicate with other R1 universities across the country. You can see what is working for their university and what’s working for yours, and I think sharing that information is really important.”
Carter is passionate about what she teaches and her students. As a business and technical writing professor, she works diligently to prepare students for what comes next after completing her class. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that students take information taught in the classroom and be able to apply that in contexts beyond her specific course.
“My big thing as a professor and as a teacher is that whatever I’m teaching content or lecture wise, I want students to walk away with at least one useful piece of information that they’ll be able to apply later on down the road,” Carter said. “Whether that’s in another course, or a job or career. The point is having them leave the classroom and being able to take something with them and apply it outside of the class.”
Clemson’s emphasis on research was a significant factor in Carter’s decision to interview and ultimately accept her current position at Clemson. In addition to research ability, support and funding, Carter was also enticed by the faculty, staff and Clemson’s reputation.
“Everyone was just really friendly and inviting. I just knew Clemson was somewhere that I would want to be,” Carter said.
Written by: Olivia Hanline