Mix Methods & the Homestretch

To wrap up our presentation series, we concluded our discussion of qualitative methods with a consideration of the “mix methods” approach. Mixed-methods researchers combine paradigms by applying both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis in one study. The mixed methods “advantage” might include a more robust description and interpretation of the data in order to make quantitative results more understandable, or it may make the broader applicability of small-sample qualitative findings more understandable with additional numerical findings. In other words, a set of data based in numerical findings enhances the depth of overall findings when paired with a narrative-based set of data. Thanks to Max for the overview of how this pairing of methodologies might work by presenting the findings in Yu et al’s article entitled When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness. As we discussed, the challenge might lie in the thoughtful integration of the specific methods and instruments chosen, and understanding exactly how one set of data can “set off” the other in revealing ways.

Our class slides

I am glad we revisited the earlier CARS (Creating a Research Space) model in class. This model was referred to early-on in our ENG 5002 course, during one of our first meetings. Remember how this model emphasizes the idea of “Establishing a territory, …Establishing a niche, …and then Occupying the niche“? Now that you are deeper into the process of your own proposal work, I think it is useful to consider the CARS model like a litmus test. How might the CARS model help you to assess the groundwork and foundations of your proposed research, as you work on the draft by outlining and describing your unique inquiry? **Consider how you are (or are not…yet) establishing a research territory, establishing a research niche, and then occupying a research niche.

I am pleased to have seen the energy and activity in the room during “Peer Review Protocol” time – you were “a buzz” with collaboration and peer support as you exchanged drafts and weighed-in on your work-in-progress together. I hope the peer review process helped you engage further, so that you can continue to refine your research proposal over the next few weeks. I am always emphasizing the iterative nature of research work. Make no mistake, research is always about circling back and refining/updating your vision/ideas.

The Homestretch

So we are on the proverbial homestretch now, with just a few more weeks to go. Next week is our last in person gathering for class. We will have a Potluck Party celebration and a round of inspiring lightning talks that introduce each of your proposed research plans. Here are some critical dates to remember:

  • 4/25 Potluck Party & Lightning Presentations (last in-person class in CAS 308)

What is a “Lightning Talk?

A lightning talk is your “elevator pitch” for your research proposal! A lightning talk is really not about squeezing a whole talk into 10 minutes, it is more about making your point clearly. Ask yourself, why should anyone do this research work I am proposing? Why does this research matter? Make a case for your research. In order to prepare for your brief talk, please:

  • Write a brief script you can read…
  • Practice reading your script before your presentation…
  • It’s okay if you go under 10 mins, but not longer.
  • Make a few slides! Add them to your last blog and the slide roster here. Limit your slides to 3-5 visually appealing slides with only a 1-3 words per slide. These slides are a visual metaphor for the compelling thoughts you will share in your lightning talk.

Bring some food and cheer to our Potluck Party!

I hope to end our ENG 5002 journey on a celebratory note, and I know a bit of food always cheers everyone up. Remember, the lightning talks you are preparing are meant to be intriguing and compelling, and we should all enjoy the diverse ideas everyone will share at the close of our time together. Our last class should be stimulating, energetic, and inspiring. Remember to trust each other to listen thoughtfully, and remember to enjoy the process of co-learning together. Bring a delightful dish!

Your to do list:

  • Prepare your lightning talk
  • Remember to bring something to share at our Potluck Party

Discourse Analysis

If “discourse” is the way we use language to communicate with each other in social situations, then it is certainly something to think about when it comes to establishing (or negotiating) shared ideas and values. We use discourse to build relationships and establish culture and sub-culture(s). We use discourse to influence others, and co-create meaning in our world. “Discourse analysis” is a research methodology that provides a lens through which we can view the many functions of language. This includes understanding the way language is involved in power and ideological understanding between people. How does certain use of language shape prevailing power structures, construct societal narratives, or influence our everyday interactions? This kind of inquiry is the terrain of the discourse analysis researcher, who seeks to explore the structure and expression of language in order to understand meaning-making processes within a social and cultural context. I think this qualitative methodology will be useful to some of you as you move forward with your own work in Writing Studies. Thanks Thuy for providing thorough summary slides for the article Discourse Analysis: Making Complex Methodology Simple. I believe it is clear to all of you now that the discourse analysis method might help a researcher plan questions that delve beneath the surface of shared language use, so that one may uncover subtleties, and start to comprehend the power and influence of text and oral forms of communication within a community.

Our class slides:

In class I addressed refining your research question further (remember not to ask “leading questions”). I also shared with you the “Lit Review” funneling concept for narrowing the scope and scale of your research inquiry by establishing a “tighter” vision of scholarly influences that inform the research you propose to do. At this stage you should be collecting a lot of sources, but then you must narrow down (through some review) the key work that is important to your own research inquiry. This process involves reading scholarly abstracts and skimming articles in order to ascertain what is truly influential to your own work. In other words, you should be “winnowing down” your citation selections (selecting 15 key sources from a much bigger collection). This process is critical to good research because you alone can identify the previously established scholarly work that is more pertinent to your own research plans.

In the last phase of class, we followed another “liberating structure” protocol called “Appreciative Interviews” which gave each peer reviewer the chance to share their progress with their research proposal draft thus far. Peer partners each took notes (in our slides). This process was intended to support you in the work necessary for the coming week ahead. You will all complete a written peer review protocol in class next week. What is needed to do that work is your Research Proposal Draft which you will bring to class in hard copy (printed out). You will be exchanging drafts, reading them during workshop time, and then writing a Peer Review in person during class.

Your to-do list

Please read: Yu et al. (May 2016) When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness. Computers in Human Behavior 58:1-11

Blog 11 due 4/18. Please write a blog reflection on our Mix Methods article above, and provide some comments on your draft process for your research proposal. Max will lead our discussion on Mix Methods in class. Directly afterward, there will be a “Peer Review” workshop. Your Research Proposal draft (in printed hard copy) will be required in class next week. **Please print out a hard copy of your proposal draft to share with your peer review partner in class.

See you next week in CAS 308! …And have a lovely Springtime weekend.

Phenomenology (Part 2)

Thanks to Ricki for furthering our understanding of the qualitative methods approach known as phenomenology. Cindy introduced us last week to the method for gathering and interpreting lived experience data, and this week we thought more about the core principles of this research design with focus on the apprehension and organization of data – the data-gathering effort and data-explicitation strategies. The Groenewald article highlighted unstructured in-depth phenomenological interviews supplemented by “memoing”, essays by participants, along with a focus group discussion and the use of field notes. I think our discussion of the appropriate size of the participant group, as well as the purposeful selection of participants was a useful one for all of you as you consider the merits of this approach. Each of you will eventually need to consider the pros and cons of a variety of these qualitative methods in research design (in order to select and/or customize the most appropriate design for your own inquiry), …so start thinking about which designs seem most accessible to you, and which ones might be most suitable for your particular inquiry/study.

Our class slides:

Your reminder to keep working on your final research proposal due 5/9:

Another example:

I am glad to have shared an example of an “academic” MA thesis project in order for you to understand how research plays into a phenomenological study – please see Maura O’Neill’s MA Thesis Proposal and Lit Review below. Just like Gianna, Maura submitted these materials halfway in her process of developing her MA Thesis. I hope they might be useful to all of you as a reference point of successful peer work.

Our Workshop

This week in our “workshop” portion of class, you accounted for the challenges you are facing when wondering “What would make your work on this Research Proposal go better? through our “Conversation Cafe” activity. I think it resulted in some wise considerations and some good troubleshooting too. If anything, I hope it helped you grapple with the work of research AS A PROCESS. A process that indeed requires “gestation” and reflection time in order to evolve. I hope it is also more apparent to all of you now that this process is an iterative one. Remember that you should be continually working on, expanding, and refining your Lit Review.

**This week you should start to write and early draft of your proposal in order to start to shape up this work. You might start by outlining a plan. Then comes some early writing. Please do re-read the Proposal Assignment (focusing on “Constructing a Proposal” section and the questions listed there. Start writing an early draft of the formal proposal. This will prepare you for our “Peer-Review Protocol” workshop time next week.

Your to-do list

Please read Discourse Analysis: Making Complex Methodology Simple

Your 10th blog due 4/11. Please write a reflection on our next “Discourse Analysis” article. Thuy will lead our discussion in class.

**Continue your development of your Research Proposal by starting the proposal draft. Create an outline of the proposal, and then start writing a draft of your proposal for class next week, so you can discuss this in-progress work with your peer review partner. Post a brief update on your proposal draft progress in BLOG 10.

Pro-tip

There is a lot of work piling up now. This is the nature of the rhythms of an academic semester. I understand that you will be facing stress management challenges. Remember to communicate with your professors, to pace yourself and pay attention to using your time wisely in the next several weeks, and be sure to place the right forms of “prioritization” to the work ahead. If you have to read a methodology article and blog, and also work further on your own proposal, strike a reasonable balance with the time you are devoting to these tasks.

Have a good weekend!

Phenomenology (part 1)

Phenomenology is a method of research that seeks to explain the nature of things through the way people experience them. It translates literally as the “study of phenomena.” Thanks to Cindy for breaking down this research method clearly, and opening up reflection on some of the pros and cons. The approach investigates everyday experiences while attempting to suspend preconceived assumptions about the phenomenon. In other words, phenomenological research studies “lived experiences” in order to gain deeper insights into how people understand such experiences. 

This methodology for research is descriptive – the researcher aims to describe (as accurately as possible) the structure of a chosen phenomenon. It is a popular qualitative method, and many scholars choose this method to gain a deeper understanding of how human beings think. The data collection involved might include observation through interviews, surveys, analysis of personal text, and focus groups and conversations, etc. Some challenges might come up with data gathering and data analysis (oftentimes new researchers are daunted with how time-consuming the process may be). Or there might be researcher-induced bias that can affect the outcome of the study. That said, this method is a great way to uncover what a particular experience means to a group of people, and how they experienced it.

Our class slides

I am glad to have shared an example of “creative” MA thesis project in order for you to understand how research plays into an ongoing fiction project (Gianna Lepanto’s MA Thesis Proposal and Lit Review submitted halfway in the process of developing her MA Thesis). Next week, I will share an example of a student’s qualitative research approach for a more academic study.

Reminder

Organization

I am also glad you were able to further “workshop” your research ideas in part 2 of class this week. Please remember how important organization is to effective research work. You now have a central folder for all of your work, and an ongoing google doc for all notes you generate pertaining to research process and research inspiration. Valerie dubbed this google document as “the Dump Doc” (i.e. it will contain all of your generative note taking – the good, the bad, the ugly). The truth is that it takes a lot of thinking and processing to get to “the good stuff”. So I think that “catch-all” name is perfect for your “notes” document that will serve as a central location for all your ideas and thoughts that come to mind regarding your ongoing research work. Please remember that research is iterative, and cyclical, so expect to revisit your research questions more than once, as you keep refining the scope of your inquiry.

At this stage after the further brainstorming done in class this week, you might want to list new (more specific versions) of your inquiry questions – write them down and highlight them in your “notes” google doc. What move will you make next?  You should dive a little deeper. Database time! Select a database based on the search tips that Craig provided (or literally go into the library and make an appointment to work with one of the reference librarians) to find some articles to upload. Familiarize yourself with how the search engine works, and then run a basic query. Enter your topics/questions and see what comes up.  Which primary sources feel like an interesting yield? Which ones have zero appeal. What grabs your attention?  Read abstracts, upload articles and drop some of the better ones into your folder.

Continue to take notice of what you are noticing, and what matters to you. 

Your to-do list

Please read: A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated by Thomas Groenewald.

Please write your ninth blog reflection (due 4/4) on the above Phenomenology article. Ricki will lead our discussion of this article in class. **In addition, please remember to work steadily each week on your Research Proposal progress and include an update in your blog.

Next week

We will have class next week in our Zoom room. I will send you the link on Thursday morning (it is the same zoom link we always use). See you on screen then, and have a great weekend.

Grounded Theory (after Spring Break)

Thanks to our check-in time at the start of class, it is apparent to me that many of you feel tired at this stage, despite the “Spring Break” that we just had last week. Sometimes the break goes by too fast, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like much of a break at all. After so many years as an academic, I understand the reality of the “ebb and flow” of energy in a semester. This is the time (after the break) when the work really piles up. I will continue to keep in mind that this second half in the semester can be challenging on all fronts. Thankfully, we face this push together in the midst of springtime – a season of renewal in nature – so lean into the beauty that is burgeoning in nature for some recharge (take a walk, notice the new blossoms and growth, take some deep breaths in the cool air). And then try to continue to pace yourselves through the next couple of months.

Thankfully, Rachel brought us back to our “tour of research methodologies” with a deeper look at the Grounded Theory approach – a methodology that has been largely applied to qualitative research conducted by social scientists. Her presentation was a thoughtful breakdown of this complex method, and it included some useful videos as well as some useful/thought-provoking questions for all of you to consider, as you continue to grow in your own research identity. **I recommend referring to Rachel’s presentation slide deck (for anyone who was not able to make it to class last night, or those who want to recall the approach).

Grounded theory is likely to begin with a question, and some collection of qualitative data, before any theory can emerge. A grounded theory researcher labels or tags certain ideas/concepts with codes that start to organize certain patterns in the ideas/concepts. As more data is collected and re-reviewed, the codes can then be grouped into higher-level concepts and into categories, which help apprehend the possibility of new theories. Instead of choosing an existing theoretical framework, the grounded theory researcher is engaged in a recursive and cyclical process of constant observation, naming/labeling/coding, and sorting…the GT researcher waits to discover what emerges from all the collection and organization of their own data. Although it is a complex and time consuming process, it definitely allows for the discovery of new phenomenon. Personally, I have found this methodology to be meaningful. That is in part because I did this work collaboratively with a small research team. This method allowed my research team and I to grow in our creative innovation (while we actually had fun together). It was because we spurned each other’s curiosity through constant dynamic dialogue about what we were discovering/noticing/wondering about, along the way.

Your Research Proposal Assignment

We discussed your final assignment for the class, which should be worked on diligently each week from now until your final deadline date of May 9th. (In addition there will be a brief “class showcase” which will include a short oral presentation of your proposal-in-progress on April 25th.)

You have already started the process of considering a research inquiry of your own.  What would you like to research? Hopefully you have “free-written” some ideas, mind-mapped some concepts, and perhaps even “surfed a bit” in the online databases since we met in the Learning Commons and connected with the reference librarian Craig Anderson. Please continue to employ these methods to explore your interests as you turn your general topic idea into a more pointed question or inquiry to jump start your work. At this stage you should continue to refine some of your early ideas from a broad topic into more specific questions. Please remember that it takes steady work (over extended time) to develop a thoughtful research proposal, so make sure to dedicate some time each week to your overall effort, making slow-but-steady progress towards this work over the next two months or so. **In other words, you cannot leave this work until the last minute.

Our class agenda slides:

Reminder:

Your to do list for next week

CITI/IRB Training online (Completion certificates to be emailed to me by 3/28)

Please read: Hudson. A research-based approach to game writing pedagogy

Blog 8 due 3/28 – **Please write your weekly reflection on the above Phenomenology article. Cindy will lead our discussion in class.

**Remember to devote some weekly research time to your slow but steady progress on your Research Proposal assignment (from now until the close of the semester).

Pre-Spring Break

Library time!

I am glad we wrapped up our “lead-in” to our Spring Break with a visit to Craig Anderson at the Nancy Thompson Learning Commons at Kean (aka the library). As you may have gathered, a good reference librarian (like Kean’s Craig Anderson or Linda Ciffelli or Chrisler Pitts, …or the newly hired Academic Specialist staff at our Learning Commons) possess specialized expertise in accessing and evaluating diverse information sources. They assist all of us (students, faculty, all researchers) in formulating research queries, utilizing our vast online databases, and employing advanced search techniques. My recommendation is to be sure to work with (and better yet, befriend) your reference librarian throughout a course of degree study (especially in grad school). These folks are the ones that can help you most directly with your specific research inquiries. They have many “tricks up their sleeve” in knowing the ways in which an information search might be approached effectively. And the more you know about what it is you are looking for, the more they can help strategize and target your investigation and/or exploration. I also want to remind you that the library offers many workshops that can assist you with research and your overall academic work at Kean.

Actor Theory Network (ANT)

In Part 2 of our class this week we were able to explore actor–network theory (aka “ANT”) – another methodological approach to social theory. With actor network theory, social forces do not exist in a vaccum, in and of themselves. Rather, a strictly empirical analysis should be undertaken to “describe” rather than “explain” social activity. In other words, everything in our social and natural worlds exists in constantly shifting networks of relationships. And it is the job of a ANT researcher to observe and identify the relevant factors that make up a social situation.

In the case of this week’s reading from Leander & Lovvorn – Literacy Networks: Following the Circulation of Texts, Bodies, and Objects in the Schooling and Online Gaming of One Youth – we have an example of the approach. This study mapped/tracked the literacy network of a young learner called Brian. Daniel did a great job at demystifying this discursively dense academic study, breaking down the article by highlighting Brian’s interactions in a shifting network of relationships by pinpointing the 5 “dimensions of displacement” in the case of Brian’s literacy acquisitions and traversals. It was an effective way to synthesize this methodology when Daniel asked us to consider using the five dimensions of displacement by asking us to compare 2-3 “networks” in our own lives. When we turn the lens on our own traversals we can start to imagine how to see/label objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors that comprise our own social situations.

Our class slides:

Research Ethics

As a researcher, you are required to complete some training in research ethics as part of your Masters degree professionalization. Kean University supports research as an integral element of its mission to advance and disseminate knowledge. The University’s practices and policies in support of research firmly uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity and comply with all federal and state regulations and guidelines. To help fulfill this mission, Kean University has established an Institutional Review Board who review all human subjects research applications according to federal and state regulations and university policies. All faculty, students, and employees who conduct research involving human subjects must comply with University Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research.

Institutional Review Board & CITI Program for Research Ethics Training

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with the review of proposed research protocols to ensure that the rights of human subjects are protected and that the risk of harm to subjects is minimized. The framework for the protection of human subjects is set in Federal regulation. To learn more about the ethical issues that encompass human subject research, we (Kean University) partner with CITI Program to offer online training for all university researchers.

Your to-do list

Please read: Cho, J. Y., & Lee, E. (2014). Reducing Confusion about Grounded Theory and Qualitative Content Analysis: Similarities and Differences. The Qualitative Report, 19(32), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2014.1028

Your seventh blog is due 3/21 (after Spring Break). **Please write a reflection on our GroundedTheory article for discussion by 3/21. Rachel will lead our discussion in class after Spring Break. 

Please remember you must complete your CITI/IRB Training online before March 28th. ***You are required to take two online “courses” in the CITI program portal as part of your progress towards your MA degree at Kean University. Please complete both the “Humanities, Social Sciences, Education, & Arts” course, as well as the “Social-Behavioral-Educational Researchers” course. Please read here for more clarity about how you to proceed with your Research Ethics Training.

…and have a great Spring Break!!!!

Case Studies

This week we looked closely at another method for approaching qualitative research. Understanding the genre features of qualitative research: A case study by Y.H. Guo was a case study about a failed case study research project. The “meta” one-two-punch of Guo’s design afforded us new insights about what is important when undertaking qualitative approaches, as well as the various possible pitfalls of this methodological approach. In the end, it was the compelling (and depressing) story of grad student “Lin” (pseudonym of course), and his false-starts-in-research, that exhibited for us a variety of mistakes when conducting a case study approach.

A case study is one of the most commonly used methodologies of social research. With the case study approach, we come to understand that social constructs should be interpreted rather than measured. Case study is an empirical inquiry which investigates a phenomenon in its real-life context. In a case study, multiple methods of data collection are used, as it involves an in-depth study of a complex phenomenon. A common contentious issue with case study methodology overall is whether the findings of the study of a single social unit can be generalized over the larger population of similar units. But the trend here with qualitative research (and more specifically, case study research) is that knowledge production moves towards dynamic, holistic, and individual aspects of human experience. In this way Guo alluded to the significance of situational “representativeness” rather than the demographic “representativeness”.

This was a quirky yet useful study, opening our perspectives to what affordances may come from approaching a case study effectively. Thank you to Brittney for leading us through some of the highlighted pitfalls of Lin’s attempt to do graduate level research work (i.e. a lack of a Lit Review before gathering data; lack of thoughtful design for a variety of different research instruments (working effectively in concert); imprecise/vague instruments for data gathering; lack of preparation/understanding in how to interpret the data; lack of communication with a research adviser; failing to seek support).

Our class slides

Jump starting your own ideas for your research

We discussed how to begin the journey of your research. You are now entering the “Discovery & Invention” zone. Remember in the early generative stages of starting research that there is a crucial difference between a topic and a question. Reminder: avoid the “narrow down the topic” trap (…because…you cannot narrow your way out of topic land.)

  1. Make yourself vulnerable
  2. Be affirmative and non judgemental
  3. Write down your ideas
  4. Generate questions internally- consider both your curiosities and your assumptions

Your to-do list

Please read: 

Leander & Lovvorn. (August 2006)  Literacy Networks: Following the Circulation of Texts, Bodies, and Objects in the Schooling and Online Gaming of One Youth Cognition and Instruction 24(3):291-340 DOI: 10.1207/s1532690xci2403_1

Blog 6 due 3/7 – Please write your blog reflection on our Actor Network Theory article for discussion. 

Daniel will lead our discussion in class next week in Part 2 of our class time, after we meet with Craig Anderson in Part 1 of class. 

In addition, please do at least 15 mins of “freewriting” to generate early ideas about the topics you might have in mind. Some questions may come to mind that might be useful when visiting the Learning Commons (Library Rm. 115). Please try to formulate a few questions for us when we are exploring the search engines with Craig.

Have a good weekend, and glad to mention that we have made it to March!

Autoethnography

Last night we explored the first of a series of research methodologies that are commonly used in the field of Writing Studies. Autoethnography is a research method that uses personal experience (the “auto”) to describe and interpret (the “graphy”) stories/cultural texts, experiences, beliefs, and practices (the “ethno”). Autoethnographic methods include journaling, looking at archival records – whether institutional or personal, interviewing one’s own self, and using writing to generate self-cultural understandings. The key thing to do if pursuing the autoethnographic method is to find common threads in your research, identify your main themes, and use the information you have gathered, combined with your own narrative understanding or experience, to create a complex self-reflective narrative. Many of your fellow MA in Writing Studies peers have applied this methodology to the their thesis work effectively. Examples of autoethnographic research within our own program include extended studies of: -intergenerational cultural assimilation, -fan fiction studies, -gaming culture and learning, -effects of the pandemic on teachers, and -digital literacies in early childhood. There are many more examples over the years (this list is just off the top of my head). The autoethnographic research method is no doubt a rich terrain for thoughtful and self-reflective writers.

I am glad to have taken a moment to consider the basis for this methodology – the practice of ethnography (…remember my example of observing “skater” or skate boarding culture in Central Park?) With ethnography – this would involve a researcher writing about this group of people (someone from the outside looking in). In autoethnography, the “group” (the researcher) writes about itself. Either approach (both ethnography or autoethnography) share the ‘graph’ root: they seek to ‘write’ some human experience, to represent it to an audience. For most practitioners, such ‘graphing’ does not imagine it is producing a scientific, objective understanding; rather it accepts that representations are necessarily subjective and involve complex relations between representer and represented. But that terrain, in and of itself, is worth “a deep and careful self-reflexivity” that might yield a new production of meaning/knowledge. To sum it up another way, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.

The readings offered us some powerful examples of the work. Thanks to both Valerie and Fran for walking us through two different articles. These two readings made the process of autoethnographic research more evident (in different ways). In addition to these two references, some of you have been exposed to this research methodology in previous academic readings (covered in ENG 5020). And I am sure you might have read other texts (in other contexts) that have applied an autoethnographic approach. I enjoyed our discussion of the ways this methodology might work (or not work) depending on context and execution. I also thought the consideration of the reader’s empathy (in the reception of such research) was an interesting reflection to close the evening on. The autoethnographic method most certainly requires vulnerability as it fosters empathy and creativity…all while honoring subjectivity and eliminating boundaries.

Our class slides:

Your to-do list:

Reading for next class: 

Guo, Y.-H. Understanding the genre features of qualitative research: A case study           

Please write Blog 5 due by 2/29. This blog should be a reflection on this “Case Study” article for discussion. Brittney will lead our discussion of the work in class next week. 

See you on campus (in our regular classroom) next week!

Liminality & Research

What a wonderful discussion last class. A special thanks to Tyler, who really opened up thoughtful discussion about your own “position-ality” as MA grad students who are now embarking on a journey into research. Indeed you are on a threshold of sorts. It is a place of relative discomfort. This is a key time in the development of your own, overall, intellectual growth. Your research agenda will become one aspect of your professional and personal identity. With that in mind, it is interesting to grapple with pre-conceived notions that we might take from the past. We must apprehend certain expectations, and even in the face of them, work to foster our own capabilities, passions, and determination to do the work we find compelling.

Along the road towards a sense of personal empowerment (that is critical to good work – i.e. “the self-centered researcher”), I am glad that we also took a moment to shed further light on the context of higher education . “The Academy” has long established its authority over knowledge production through protocols like “peer review”, and challenging “hoops” to jump through like tenure. These milestones in an academic career are not for the faint of heart, and in short, the work is “not for just anybody”. The bar for rigor and excellence (…is this the “end all, be all”?…) is set very high for a tenured University professor in a field that is founded on prestige (without much opportunity). And so these “traditions” (and their effect on people) have trickled deep down into the culture of higher education.

In some sense, our class was all about thinking that through, connecting the dots, and understanding broader contexts for the enterprise of research. Your are now in a “liminal position”,. You are at the threshold (or the edges) of certain “training”, and you must find your way (authentically) to produce your own contribution – new knowledge that has your “stamp”. Tyler’s discussion asking us to consider methods and attitudes towards research was a great place for us to start. And his presentation “walkthrough” of Purdy & Walker’s Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers was just the right footing to set off on our journey together.

Our class slides:

Your to-do list

Next week we will take a close look at the first example of a Writing Studies “methodology” for research. Please read:

Your fourth blog is due the morning of 2/15. Please write a reflection on our autoethnography articles for discussion.

Remember to read your peer’s blogs, so that during our class discussion you can offer thoughtful “shout outs” to some of your classmates next week.

Happy Valentines Day! See you next week. And remember, we will be meeting in ZOOM!

Laying the seed for your research growth…

Last night it was great to see you all chatting and hopefully getting to know each other a bit more in our “speed socializing” protocol. It makes a difference when you get to know your classmates a little more, and you have a chance to share with different people in your learning community. I hope you derived a certain amount of energy and even hope from your different mini-conversations. There are so many interesting and special people in this class!

So, I think the seed of broader understanding has been planted. We are now on our way. We have surveyed “the landscape” that research emerges from. And we have covered a general sense of what research entails. To quote Fran again – “research isn’t cute” – it takes patience and perseverance, a tolerance for failure (or at least failed attempts), and it certainly takes your close attention. It takes some passion and care. To paraphrase Rachel – it also takes a revisionist’s disposition. As writers, we know that “revision” in writing is really just what the the writing process actually is. You write -and rewrite- until you discover and refine your meaning. Research is similar (in this sense of iteration) – it requires your time, your hard work, and mostly, your endurance.

We discussed the general distinctions between quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods for data collection and analysis. We have covered terms like “generalizable” and “bias” and “instrument” . And we have spoken a bit about the political specter of “the Academy” (which amounts to all the institutions/individuals with “skin in the game”) – the universities, the foundations, the grant funding agencies, the grant officers, the peer reviewers, the evaluation committees, etc. We also discussed the CARS model which is quite useful in identify a starting point for your research inquiry ( i.e. Establish a territory, …Establish a niche, …Occupy the niche).  Let’s remember those 11 closing questions (found at the end of the CARS article) when we proceed in class.

Our class slides from 2/1

Your to-do list for next week

Please read:

Purdy, James and Joyce Walker. Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers. Pedagogy. 13.1 (2012), 9-41.

Tyler will begin our presentation series next week based on this article.

**Please note: For each of your class presentations, the presenter should develop their own “lesson plan” or protocol for how we will engage with the text and the ideas as a learning community.  Presenters are encouraged to give us some guiding questions or prompts/ideas we can respond to and work with, and lead us in certain pedagogical exercises that will open up our understanding of the ideas for that week.  Be creative with the readings!  Think about new ways to work with colleagues to share this material and engender meaningful discussion.

Please write your 3rd blog: 

**Please write a reflection regarding the above Purdy & Walker reading. And also remember to read your peers’ blogs before class in order to prepare for a meaningful discussion in class.

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Yes, …it is indeed the season of winter doldrums…that “I-can’t-wait-for-winter-to-end” feeling that produces mild but manageable sluggishness (and also ….warm food cravings??).

To all of you – remember to take care of yourself. Eat well, move your body, take a nap if you have the opportunity, …and before you know it, the Spring will burst forth!

ENG 5002: Where Research Begins

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