Professor Tara Keenan Receives Grant to Write Guide on AI Tools

John Cabot University English Composition Professor Tara Keenan has received a grant to write a strengthening guide that makes use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. The grant is from the Open Society University Network’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Collaborative.  Professors Christin Campbell, Theresa Lindo, Andrew Rutt, and Reference Librarian Nicoletta Romano will write the guide as an interdisciplinary approach to John Cabot’s composition sequence, alongside Professor Keenan. It is slated to be published by Fall 2024. 

Professor Tara Keenan

The strengthening guide will empower composition professors to help students engage with AI from a liberal arts perspective and become more intentional in how they interact with this technology as critical thinkers and writers. “Now, more than ever, it is crucial to maintain our liberal arts perspective by emphasizing the core elements of interdisciplinary thinking, human connection, and critical discourse. This will allow students to develop themselves as lifelong learners,” Professor Keenan said. The guide will give those teaching within the composition sequence activities to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It will also allow students to write more effectively by helping professors teach them how to draw on AI tools to enhance their work. 

Professor Keenan emphasized that we must move away from formulaic essay writing, which AI can approximate, by helping students make connections that elevate the level of their writing. This will empower them to discover their critical voice and what makes their points of view unique.“This means that we are playing a game in which the goalposts have been moved and we (both professors and students) will have to adjust,” she explained. Rather than ignore this change, Professor Keenan argued that we should shift our focus from product to process.

Professor Keenan is an Instructor of English Composition and Writing Center Coordinator at John Cabot University. She has presented at academic conferences on history, academic writing, and pedagogy in San Diego, Cairo, New York, Rome, Dublin, and Belfast. Professor Keenan has experience teaching modern European history, English/Irish literature, interdisciplinary courses in women’s studies, political history, and world history, as well as her focus on English Composition at John Cabot.