The following published course materials are intended to be used by instructors as resources to create their own course with a similar focus and structure relating to broadening understandings of and approaches to trauma writing. These published course design materials include a sample syllabus for courses focused on creating trauma-informed classrooms and a teaching manifesto breaking down the particular approach to creating What Would Joan Do?
While these materials outline a comprehensive research approach to trauma-informed course design, it is necessary to outline some potential issues that could benefit from close thought depending on a particular instructor’s goal or classroom approach. What Would Joan Do? is an online course, a structure that lends its challenges. Specifically, there is the issue of students feeling as though they are writing into an internet ‘void’ of sorts and fearing that their perspective will be left unheard, with the potential for either negative or no comments to their work. While the removal of both an in-person instructor and peers through an online course affords participants a certain level of privacy and agency in creating work that suits a desired outcome, the work submitted must be acknowledged – whether by the instructor or by fellow participants. In the case of What Would Joan Do?, submissions are monitored and engaged with by the instructor. Furthermore, peer comments are monitored, and the instructor reserves the right to delete comments that do not follow the online classroom policies outlined on the “Overview” page.
Similarly, while What Would Joan Do? is not a graded course, a sample contract grading outline is provided for instructors who wish to use a form of graded evaluation. It is essential to consider in graded assessment – particularly in trauma-related courses focused on writing and written disclosure – how to evaluate different writing styles, ways of expression, and various forms of grieving in some instances. There is no one correct answer as to how to address these concerns. However, the sample syllabus focuses on grades correlating with the number of completed assignments instead of directly evaluating an individual style or narrative approach.
Finally, it is important to note that any course relating to or asking students to engage with trauma should openly supply a list of readily available trauma-assistance resources for students should they experience traumatization. In the case of What Would Joan Do?, these resources are provided to participants on the “Overview” page. These published resources are available nationally as this course is online and open-access. Should your course be more specifically aligned with an institution, publishing the assistance resources available to students at your institution would be ideal.