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Michele Zugnoni

Assistant Professor of Instruction, The Cook Family Writing Program

PhD, University of California, Davis, Education; JD, University of California Davis; MA, California State University Stanislaus, English; BA, California State University East Bay, History

Michele Zugnoni serves as a professor and a first-year advisor. In the four years that Zugnoni has been at Northwestern, she's created two first-year seminars -- Through the Looking Glass: Intersections of Identity and LGBTQ in Popular Culture. She's also created a course in Legal Writing. In addition, Zugnoni teaches Design Thinking and Communication, Summer Academic Workshop, Writing & Speaking in Business, and Expository Writing. Zugnoni employs a student-centered, culturally responsive teaching approach. She encourages her students to draw upon their individual experiences and interests, thus enabling them to focus on their unique knowledge and strengths. Zugnoni teaches with two goals in mind: (1) help her students learn to enjoy writing by engaging their own voice and knowledge; and (2) teach her students fundamental writing skills important to their continued success in writing at the university level and beyond. Zugnoni strives to create a safe space in each of her writing classes, where students come to understand that they have a voice and their voice matters.

Zugnoni first learned about the importance of voice while she was working as an attorney in California, where she was determined to give her clients a voice. She valued the opportunity to teach people how to be a voice for themselves, and chose to make the transition into education.

Zugnoni is also in her final year of four years directing the Design Thinking and Communication (DTC) program. DTC is a two-course sequence required of all first-year engineering students. It is housed across two Northwestern schools: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and McCormick School of Engineering. Together with the McCormick Director, Zugnoni administers the DTC program, which employs 40+ faculty to partner-teach 60+ sections per year, with 1,000+ student enrollments. One of Zugnoni's contributions to the program is mentoring new faculty members. Zugnoni is currently working on a research study to learn whether the new faculty mentoring program fosters professional development, as well as a sense of inclusion and belonging among new faculty.

In addition to her new faculty mentoring study, Zugnoni is currently working on the third phase of the International WAC/WID Mapping Project. In this role, Zugnoni is surveying universities across the United States to learn how they incorporate elements of WAC/WID into their courses.

Zugnoni graduated from UC Davis during the summer of 2019 with a PhD in Education, and a designation in Writing, Rhetoric and Composition. Zugnoni’s dissertation focused on the narrative experiences of first-generation college students, and in particular, how writing teachers can help first-generation students cultivate a sense of community and professional identity in the writing classroom. Working in small groups, Zugnoni's students wrote about their experiences and shared their insights with their peers. They formed important bonds with each other and found a place of belonging within the university. Zugnoni learned a lot from her students. She draws upon this knowledge in her teaching.

Beyond teaching and research, Zugnoni spends many hours writing creative fiction, playing piano, traveling to new locales, and educating herself on writing and LGBTQ popular culture. She's originally from the San Francisco Bay Area.