Faculty Focus: Law & Order. And Iris Frost.

Faculty Focus: Law & Order. And Iris Frost.

Iris Frost

In her Rhetoric course, UI Lecturer Iris Frost works to transform fans of TV’s “CSI,” readers of true-crime and Jodi Arias trial junkies into skilled debaters, writers, and presenters.

Two years ago with the help of the SITA (Student Instructional Teaching Assistant) program and other TILE instructors, Frost transformed a portion of her course with a student centered, active learning model taking advantage of the design of the TILE space and enhanced technology.

To capture their imagination, Frost allows students to explore criminal cases they are curious about through collaborative writing and speaking assignments that result in a collaborative presentation.

“Students feel comfortable having free wheeling discussion, team-work and hands on experience with materials,” says Frost.

Students now engage with the course material in a variety of ways.

In the TILE classroom, students use laptops to gather information about key characters involved in the crime or trial. Students then work in small groups to organize and critically analyze their sources. Finally, they discuss various perspectives to formulate strong arguments and counter-arguments.

Building their analytical and rhetoric skills is not the only upside for students.

“There is an added student benefit of leaving with more multimedia experience and technology competency in a TILE classroom,” says Frost.

Students also keep a journal where they write about their daily accomplishments.

“It helps instructors to determine who is doing what within the groups,” says Frost. “It also provides students a private outlet for sharing feedback directly with the instructor.”

Another component of the course puts students into the heart of the criminal justice system.

Frost’s students attend courthouse hearings, tour jail facilities and participate in other out-of-the-ordinary field trips, such as a police ride-along on a Friday night.  This type of experiential learning places practice and application at the center of the student experience.

Students bring these real-world experiences back into the classroom in written form, where they learn to formulate good questions, construct arguments, objectively read and critically analyze the world around them.

And TILE helps to bring that all together.

"From my perspective, students enjoyed the change of environment from a traditional classroom to the TILE classroom,” says Frost. “The technology helped each student team complete the assignments efficiently and effectively."


Iris Frost is a Lecturer in the Rhetoric Department in the College of Liberal Arts & Science and has been an Assistant Johnson County Attorney. Prior to receiving her law degree from the University of Iowa in 1998, she worked as an Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News. 

Student registration for Frost's Fall 2014 Rhetoric course (010:003:058 & 010:003:060) is open and available on ISIS.