Today's college classrooms seldom resemble the traditional halls-of-ivy images that so long dominated the American conception of higher education. The present widespread shift in student demographics in the last three decades—more first-generation college students coming from more diverse backgrounds with less academic preparation—has created a completely different classroom population, one that the standard lecture format, so long the hallmark of a university education, often fails to reach.
Acknowledging the problem and attempting to address it, a number of universities like the University of Minnesota and Northwestern have recently instituted teacher training courses for their Ph.D. candidates in all fields. What these teachers need to know in order to teach, what their nontraditional students need in order to learn are decentered, interactive classrooms that directly involve and engage students in their own learning processes. If this assertion sounds familiar, it should, because it is the basis of the revolution and restructuring organization that occurred in college writing classrooms over twenty years ago. Composition teachers like Mina Shaughnessey in the City University of New York system faced this issue as early as 1977 and began to devise strategies and approaches to reach this new and diverse student population. The results of the pedagogical experimentation and development of early pioneers like Shaughnessey have been incorporated into composition-teacher-training practicums for English PhDs for almost two decades, and those practicums have produced a new generation of college professors trained in the art of creating student-centered, collaborative classroom communities. This collection is really their story, narratives of their successes in