Wearing Lots of Hats: Research and Multiple Identities

 Image from Team Fortress 2 by Valve Corporation


In reading "Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory" by Mohr, Rogers, Sanford, Nocerino, MacLean, and Clawson, I was most intrigued by the indentity-related implications I saw in it.  The authors advocate very strongly for teachers to "wear more than one hat": they assert that the most valuable theory comes from researchers who are also teachers.  It doesn't stop there, though.  In addition to wearing the teacher hat and the researcher hat, it seems the authors want teachers to also wear a sociologist hat in order to better understand the varied life experiences and environments of their students.  Taking it even further, the article encourages teacher-researchers to explore methods "from a variety of fields- sociology, ethnography, psychology, and anthropology" (Mohr et al.18).  Additionally additionally, the article advocates writing-to-learn, which would give an individual the writer hat too.  That's a lot of hats, and a lot of identities, for someone to take on!

This is fascinating to me, because the social narrative in American society tends to guide adults toward possessing only one professional identity.  The evidence of this narrative can be seen in that oh-so-common introductory question at parties: So, what do you do?  How many party guests do you think would actually listen if one responded with "I'm a teacher-researcher-sociologist-ethnographer-psychologist, with a little bit of anthropologist on my mom's side, but she was raised by teachers, so..."  That got me thinking... what is the taboo about having more than one professional identity?  Do people think it means one is not devoting their full attention to their job?  And, if multitasking is seen as such a valuable skill, then why would that be a problem?

I personally agree with the multiple professional identity approach.  I think it allows teachers, researchers, sociologists, etc. to have a bigger "Crock Pot" from which to pull.  Everything they learn, every slice of research, chunk of method, or pinch of multidisciplinary understanding, adds to their ability to understand, interpret, and criticize subject matter; teach; and relate to students of multitudinous backgrounds.

In contrast to the "everything can be research, and you can research every way!" approach of "Out of Our Experience," "Empiricism Is Not a Four Letter Word" by Charney, favors quantitative research methods, such as those used in the hard sciences.  Although I had a hard time understanding the article, and didn't even get through it,  I don't agree with what I gather of Charney's opinion.  If writing studies is more closely related to the social, or soft, sciences, then why should we be trying to cram its research methods into a tight and ill-fitting article of clothing that's tailor fit for a whole different discipline?  That's like a human trying to wear a sweater made for dogs!  

      

Wearing Lots of Hats: Research and Multiple Identities

 Image from Team Fortress 2 by Valve Corporation


In reading "Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory" by Mohr, Rogers, Sanford, Nocerino, MacLean, and Clawson, I was most intrigued by the indentity-related implications I saw in it.  The authors advocate very strongly for teachers to "wear more than one hat": they assert that the most valuable theory comes from researchers who are also teachers.  It doesn't stop there, though.  In addition to wearing the teacher hat and the researcher hat, it seems the authors want teachers to also wear a sociologist hat in order to better understand the varied life experiences and environments of their students.  Taking it even further, the article encourages teacher-researchers to explore methods "from a variety of fields- sociology, ethnography, psychology, and anthropology" (Mohr et al.18).  Additionally additionally, the article advocates writing-to-learn, which would give an individual the writer hat too.  That's a lot of hats, and a lot of identities, for someone to take on!

This is fascinating to me, because the social narrative in American society tends to guide adults toward possessing only one professional identity.  The evidence of this narrative can be seen in that oh-so-common introductory question at parties: So, what do you do?  How many party guests do you think would actually listen if one responded with "I'm a teacher-researcher-sociologist-ethnographer-psychologist, with a little bit of anthropologist on my mom's side, but she was raised by teachers, so..."  That got me thinking... what is the taboo about having more than one professional identity?  Do people think it means one is not devoting their full attention to their job?  And, if multitasking is seen as such a valuable skill, then why would that be a problem?

I personally agree with the multiple professional identity approach.  I think it allows teachers, researchers, sociologists, etc. to have a bigger "Crock Pot" from which to pull.  Everything they learn, every slice of research, chunk of method, or pinch of multidisciplinary understanding, adds to their ability to understand, interpret, and criticize subject matter; teach; and relate to students of multitudinous backgrounds.

In contrast to the "everything can be research, and you can research every way!" approach of "Out of Our Experience," "Empiricism Is Not a Four Letter Word" by Charney, favors quantitative research methods, such as those used in the hard sciences.  Although I had a hard time understanding the article, and didn't even get through it,  I don't agree with what I gather of Charney's opinion.  If writing studies is more closely related to the social, or soft, sciences, then why should we be trying to cram its research methods into a tight and ill-fitting article of clothing that's tailor fit for a whole different discipline?  That's like a human trying to wear a sweater made for dogs!  

      

the reality of elitism

Elitism in academia is a terrifying concept for me to think about, if I'm being honest.

During my academic career, there has never been a moment where I have felt, "Ah, yes - I know everything there is to know about this subject, and no one can tell me otherwise." No matter how much research I have ever poured into a topic or interest in mine, I have always had some intellectual "doubts" and gaps after all was said and done - I never felt one hundred percent confident in saying I was ever an expert on anything. After writing an argumentative paper, I would never feel too sure about it because I could see the points of the other side, and consequently counter and poke holes in my own thesis. Where do people find ideas of such absolutism in their work? Even in objective facts, perspective is subjective while assessing and interpreting the significance of them.

In Davida Charney's article, "Empiricism Is Not A Four Letter Word," she touches on how scholars can be drowned in elitism when submerged in the "infallible" results of science and quantitative research. Charney mentions that one criticism of science in research is that it is a way to avoid "interpretation, [to] eliminate the human element of subjectivity ... and [to] go on misrepresenting the world as a manageable, fully determinate, and reducible to clear and accurate formulas" (571). By completely immersing yourself in the "elitist flashiness" of science, it seems like there is a possibility that we lose sight of the humanistic meaning in the data. While numbers and formulas are impressive, they are not able to critically think about and analyze the significance in the point of the research. However, this is not to say that scholars who are founded in critical thinking are on a high horse, either. Both sides have their guilt as elitist and are easy to discredit each other in terms of the validity of their research methods, which result in a stalemate and a wasted opportunity to collaborate. Instead, Charney encourages a healthy dose of both sides of the spectrum: scientific research is wonderful and effective, and the humanistic and critical analysis of it is what makes it all worth it, which makes complete sense. Additionally, no one should think that they are academically "superior" to anyone - there is no finality in research. If there was, I think that would eliminate the possibility of progress. Instead, scholars should always keep an open and grounded mind during their academic endeavors, so that they can continue to test and develop new theories and ideas to further their research.

"Out of Our Experience: Useful Theories" also speaks on a similar note to Charney's. The article discusses how teacher-researchers are always learning from their students and colleagues, and consequently testing out and comparing their theories to build their professional career. There are always new ideas to learn from and new perspectives to consider, and to be both a "good" teacher and researcher, they should always be expanding their academic boundaries and maintain a certain awareness in the effectiveness of their teaching. Resting on elitism, again, is extremely dangerous and personally crippling in their growth as a learning individual. Overall, I feel that it is always beneficial to maintain humility with knowledge and a certain open-mindedness as time goes on if you want to intellectually and personally better yourself.

the reality of elitism

Elitism in academia is a terrifying concept for me to think about, if I'm being honest.

During my academic career, there has never been a moment where I have felt, "Ah, yes - I know everything there is to know about this subject, and no one can tell me otherwise." No matter how much research I have ever poured into a topic or interest in mine, I have always had some intellectual "doubts" and gaps after all was said and done - I never felt one hundred percent confident in saying I was ever an expert on anything. After writing an argumentative paper, I would never feel too sure about it because I could see the points of the other side, and consequently counter and poke holes in my own thesis. Where do people find ideas of such absolutism in their work? Even in objective facts, perspective is subjective while assessing and interpreting the significance of them.

In Davida Charney's article, "Empiricism Is Not A Four Letter Word," she touches on how scholars can be drowned in elitism when submerged in the "infallible" results of science and quantitative research. Charney mentions that one criticism of science in research is that it is a way to avoid "interpretation, [to] eliminate the human element of subjectivity ... and [to] go on misrepresenting the world as a manageable, fully determinate, and reducible to clear and accurate formulas" (571). By completely immersing yourself in the "elitist flashiness" of science, it seems like there is a possibility that we lose sight of the humanistic meaning in the data. While numbers and formulas are impressive, they are not able to critically think about and analyze the significance in the point of the research. However, this is not to say that scholars who are founded in critical thinking are on a high horse, either. Both sides have their guilt as elitist and are easy to discredit each other in terms of the validity of their research methods, which result in a stalemate and a wasted opportunity to collaborate. Instead, Charney encourages a healthy dose of both sides of the spectrum: scientific research is wonderful and effective, and the humanistic and critical analysis of it is what makes it all worth it, which makes complete sense. Additionally, no one should think that they are academically "superior" to anyone - there is no finality in research. If there was, I think that would eliminate the possibility of progress. Instead, scholars should always keep an open and grounded mind during their academic endeavors, so that they can continue to test and develop new theories and ideas to further their research.

"Out of Our Experience: Useful Theories" also speaks on a similar note to Charney's. The article discusses how teacher-researchers are always learning from their students and colleagues, and consequently testing out and comparing their theories to build their professional career. There are always new ideas to learn from and new perspectives to consider, and to be both a "good" teacher and researcher, they should always be expanding their academic boundaries and maintain a certain awareness in the effectiveness of their teaching. Resting on elitism, again, is extremely dangerous and personally crippling in their growth as a learning individual. Overall, I feel that it is always beneficial to maintain humility with knowledge and a certain open-mindedness as time goes on if you want to intellectually and personally better yourself.

Empiricism and Useful Theory. Confusion and Breakthroughs.

5-sensesI am going to start this blog post by saying that I probably do not know what I am talking about. The article that I read first for this week was “Empiricism Is Not a Four-Letter Word” by Davida Charney. The first thing that I had to do was look up the word “empiricism” because I did not know what it meant, and as Stephanie (a classmate) pointed out, it is thought to be the “theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience”. I began reading the article and immediately stopped; I was not ready to feel as dumb as this article made me feel. I couldn’t really understand any of it, or make any decisions about what Charney was trying to get at. Maybe this lack of understanding came from trying to read this article during the morning, or maybe I was just not in the right state of mind, so I wasn’t really picking up what she was putting down. I was genuinely confused all the way through the article to the point where I had to read headings and skim paragraphs to see if anything stood out to me. I came across one area as I was highlighting that made me ask myself a question, so I got excited and wrote it in the margins.

The most obvious reaction is to be relieved and think that I was starting to get somewhere with this piece, but that was not how I felt at all. I started to wonder (in relation to others who highlight and write in the margins) if individuals who have a lot of highlighted portions and no handwriting in the margins really understood what they were reading. Did they highlight only because that particular part sounded important, and they thought they should highlight it? Did they highlight in agreement, but just didn’t write anything? Did that particular sentence or paragraph make sense, but nothing else? Should written comments or further evaluation in the margins be a way to measure whether that person understood what they were reading? Probably not. I went off on this tangent because I noticed I write more in the margins with scholarly articles (commenting, asking questions, and challenging) when I am able to at least understand the gist of what is being said.

The only part of this entire article that I was able to really reflect on and relate to something in my life that I understood was at the very end of the “Implications” section where Charney began to wrap things up. She states, “We should promote the publication of research that extends and refines previous work. And we should encourage reviews of previous studies that compare findings and methods in particular kinds of sites…” (Charney, 1996). What really struck me is when the author goes on to say, “The only way to progress as a discipline is to undertake the hard task of inter-connecting our work, by building up provisional confidence in our methods and our knowledge base by challenging and impressing each other–– and anyone else who cares to look” (Charney, 1996). These two quotes to me somehow brought up the way in which I try to live (that whole “wake up a better me than the day before” kind of logic). From her words here, I get the sense of the urgency and need to challenge yourself (and others) to be better. The only way one can get to their desired destination is by weaving things together, and by knowing that no work truly stands alone, but rather everything builds off of each other. One learns from past work just as one learns from past experiences in life. If I do not go back to where I started, how am I to accurately depict my now?

The second article was “Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory” by Marian Mohr, Courtney Rogers, Betsy Sanford, Mary Ann Nocerino, Marion MacLean, and Sheila Clawson. Although this article was the shortest of the two, it was definitely easier to keep up with and I ultimately received more from it than with the former article. What I took away from this second piece was the fact that it can be highly beneficial to think of one’s work as a research process. I cannot relate to being a teacher (as this article was heavily related to teacher researchers and teacher practices), but I completely agree with where the authors are coming from. I wholeheartedly believe that one is constantly in a position of receiving knowledge and learning when conducting research, so why not think of your own work as a research process? It is not enough to just finish a piece of work, and then proceed to let it sit on the shelves of academia. It is a must, as Charney pointed out, to note the importance of inter-connected work. Through trials and tribulations, experiences, and working theories one is able to grow… The work is able to grow. With this concept that Mohr et al. (2003) is thinking of, nothing is every really finished, but instead keeps evolving within the field. The only way to know is to try, but then challenge what you thought you knew to get to what you didn’t know. Did I lose anyone with that statement? Hopefully not. This article is older now, so I am interested to see what else has come into the field about this useful theory since then.


Research is an Active Word

This week's readings were selected by Andaiye. She chose an excerpt from a book, Teacher Research for Better Schools titled, Out of Our Experience:Useful Theory and the other was a piece written by Davida Charney titled, Empiricism Is Not a Four Letter Word. Both pieces dealt with research theories and ways to analyze practices and research methodologies. 

Before I could fully understand and dissect the Charney piece I had to look up the word empiricism. And in my research I discovered that it means, "the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. " This really put things into perspective for me. Now I was ready to tackle the article-- which was tough to read as it was loaded with jargon. 

The argument that they are making in the text is that, 

"the fallibility of our knowledge--or the thesis that all knowledge is guesswork..." 

 This really stood out to me. Through research you learn. Research allows to you the space to discover whether your questions or theories are proven true or false. You don't know anything for certain therefore everything is by chance and whatever you discover is just that-- a discovery. I felt a sense a of comfort to know that it is okay to say that knowledge comes from guessing. But it is not just the simply guessing without any basis. The "guesswork" is rooted in educated conjectures that are either proven true or false. 

In the National Writing Project article about the way in which teachers research I found several points of connection between what I do in my professional life as a teacher of writing. It deepened my understanding of learning as doing. In order to study and research best writing practices you have to do them both as a write and a researcher/teacher. The quote that stood out to me in this text in some ways connects to the line I pulled from the Charney text, 

"It is through questioning and criticizing, agreeing and disagreeing but with fundamental respect and support for each other, that we interpret and learn from our data."

So this takes it a step further than the "guesswork." You learn from your search only after you have compared and analyzed your findings against other theories and discoveries.  It is in the research that you learn. Through failures and successes from periods of trial and error. This is where important work happens over time. Through research and analysis of data it is where ideas and concepts become a way of reality. 



Research is an Active Word

This week's readings were selected by Andaiye. She chose an excerpt from a book, Teacher Research for Better Schools titled, Out of Our Experience:Useful Theory and the other was a piece written by Davida Charney titled, Empiricism Is Not a Four Letter Word. Both pieces dealt with research theories and ways to analyze practices and research methodologies. 

Before I could fully understand and dissect the Charney piece I had to look up the word empiricism. And in my research I discovered that it means, "the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. " This really put things into perspective for me. Now I was ready to tackle the article-- which was tough to read as it was loaded with jargon. 

The argument that they are making in the text is that, 

"the fallibility of our knowledge--or the thesis that all knowledge is guesswork..." 

 This really stood out to me. Through research you learn. Research allows to you the space to discover whether your questions or theories are proven true or false. You don't know anything for certain therefore everything is by chance and whatever you discover is just that-- a discovery. I felt a sense a of comfort to know that it is okay to say that knowledge comes from guessing. But it is not just the simply guessing without any basis. The "guesswork" is rooted in educated conjectures that are either proven true or false. 

In the National Writing Project article about the way in which teachers research I found several points of connection between what I do in my professional life as a teacher of writing. It deepened my understanding of learning as doing. In order to study and research best writing practices you have to do them both as a write and a researcher/teacher. The quote that stood out to me in this text in some ways connects to the line I pulled from the Charney text, 

"It is through questioning and criticizing, agreeing and disagreeing but with fundamental respect and support for each other, that we interpret and learn from our data."

So this takes it a step further than the "guesswork." You learn from your search only after you have compared and analyzed your findings against other theories and discoveries.  It is in the research that you learn. Through failures and successes from periods of trial and error. This is where important work happens over time. Through research and analysis of data it is where ideas and concepts become a way of reality. 



Creating a New Environment 2017-02-11 23:53:00

Hope Wilson
Continuation blog2
Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory
By Marian M. Mohr, Courtney Roger, Betsy Sanford,
Mary Ann Nocerino, Marion S. MacLean, and Sheila Clawson


                                                    Scholarly Research


Are we progressing or are we focusing on other research? I am inspired to believe that experience is the best teacher. I agree with the statement " As with most teachers-researchers, our theory building emerged from a complex mix of classroom experiences, collegial exchanges, reflective opportunities, and selected reading" that may inspire teaching ethics. When educators conduct research, journal, and collaborate with their colleagues regarding teaching that is considered part of their experiences. It is impressive how educators were influenced by Lawrence Stenhouse (1985). It was written "ideas led us to think about the effects of teacher research on curriculum and professional development. Our classroom observations effected our classroom curriculum. Our yearly research process was like a graduate course; our understandings based on our research were professional development for each other" which may encourage other educators to experience similar processes or research strategies.  Professional and personal development is inevitable when "research groups of critical friends" join groups and discuss their research and data.

Creating a New Environment 2017-02-11 23:53:00

Hope Wilson
Continuation blog2
Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory
By Marian M. Mohr, Courtney Roger, Betsy Sanford,
Mary Ann Nocerino, Marion S. MacLean, and Sheila Clawson


                                                    Scholarly Research


Are we progressing or are we focusing on other research? I am inspired to believe that experience is the best teacher. I agree with the statement " As with most teachers-researchers, our theory building emerged from a complex mix of classroom experiences, collegial exchanges, reflective opportunities, and selected reading" that may inspire teaching ethics. When educators conduct research, journal, and collaborate with their colleagues regarding teaching that is considered part of their experiences. It is impressive how educators were influenced by Lawrence Stenhouse (1985). It was written "ideas led us to think about the effects of teacher research on curriculum and professional development. Our classroom observations effected our classroom curriculum. Our yearly research process was like a graduate course; our understandings based on our research were professional development for each other" which may encourage other educators to experience similar processes or research strategies.  Professional and personal development is inevitable when "research groups of critical friends" join groups and discuss their research and data.

After some delay….

To my fellow Writing Researchers,

After some delay, I have figured out I need a certain kind of software to convert our selected PDF files into “optically recognized text” in order for our group hypothes.is effort to work.  Apparently I need Adobe Acrobat Pro in order to do this.  So, I have made appointments and I have been waiting on OCIS for the past few days in order to load up this software onto my computer.  But they have not kept our scheduled appointments (As Richonda & Katherine taught me to say, I have been “keaned”).  So…I will go to the OCIS office rather than waiting on them on Monday.  In terms of moving forward, we will eventually have this PDF conversion issue resolved, but in the meantime, here is the plan:

We will read Andaiye’s two selected articles before class.  We will not be able to hypothes.isize them together, but we can still proceed “old-school”.  So please read :

Charney, Davida. “Empiricism is not a Four-Letter Word.” College Composition & Communication 47.4 (1996): 567-593 https://www.la.utexas.edu/users/charney/homepage/Articles/charney_empiricism.pdf

Sheila Clawson, Marion S. MacLean, Marian M. Mohr, Mary Ann Nocerino, Courtney Rogers, Betsy Sanford, “Out of Our Experience:  Useful Theory.” The Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4  Date: 2003. http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/download/nwp_file/956/Out_of_Our_Experience.pdf?x-r=pcfile_d

In addition, please blog about these two texts for class.  Andaiye will lead us through a discussion and a group consideration of these readings when we meet on Monday night.  We will also continue to discuss the selected readings for the remaining schedule, and start a plan for your research proposal work.

See you soon…

Enjoy the weekend!

Dr. Zamora