All posts by Brittney Kennedy

Lightning Talk

Here’s my lightning talk!

As a child, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it has changed my life in countless ways. The social-emotional effects are often unspoken, under-resourced, and under-researched. Understanding the gaps in research about this topic, I aim to fill them via autoethnographic research.

Discourse Moves

I thought this was an interesting article. I’ve enjoyed reading about discourse and language, so this was no different. I think this starts a great conversation, especially since hybrid learning has become so much more prevalent since 2020. A lot of educators should’ve read this during the pandemic when we were doing discussion boards.

“Participants establish their online persona, building what Ashforth and Mael (1989) called a self-definition, of which a large proportion is their social identity.” (pg.2) In the framework of this educational setting, I think the idea of an online persona is interesting. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen naturally or intentionally, but I see this coming into play in more social or personal discourse settings.

“In their essay acknowledging identity as social, fluid, and recognized, Moje and Luke (2009) reviewed the different ways that researchers have dealt with the construct of identity by organizing these literature as five metaphors.” (pg.2) I loved the five metaphors. I thought they were so fitting to describe the dynamics and types of identity we engage with. For example, identity-as-position is where much of one’s identity can stem from. Whether you’re a doctor, spouse, parent, or anything, much of your identity can come from your positions in space or life.

“With their uniqueness theory, Snyder and Fromkin (1980) proposed that individuals are influenced by their needs to maintain a sense of moderate self-distinctiveness because they experience negative feelings when perceiving extreme similarity to or uniqueness from relevant others.” (pg.2) As someone who’s in a relationship with someone who isn’t American, I’m constantly being reminded of my Westernized views. The emphasis on uniqueness and individuality is a very Westernized/American thing, as many foreign cultures are community-based and don’t thrive on distinctness. It made me wonder what this study would look like if they leaned into the international students or even had all participants not be from America. “Other limi-tations include that we did not consider the international students’ English proficiency levels as a factor that might have played a role in their facility with the online discussion.” (pg.9) This truly hindered this study. I think it could’ve led to much more insightful results if they tapped into that sector.

“We found a trend between uniqueness-seeking levels and the proportion of cognitive to social moves: students with higher uniqueness needs made more cognitive than social moves, afinding in part explained by survey responses. Kyungmi (MM) explicitly noted that she sought to stand out in academic but not personal interactions.” (pg.9) In this setting, seeing cognitive moves more than social is expected. Them being graduate students, of course, they want to let their intelligence shine. Graduate programs are a smaller cohort, so naturally, you want to stand out more and establish yourself in the group. “Depending on situational factors, such as familiarity with and preference for topics that arose in discussion and group dynamics, students seemed to change in their tendency to stand out from or join others.”(pg.9) This also is an expected “result” of this study. Of course, comfort with a topic and group will lead to various levels of discourse and participation.

I forgot to include this in my last blog post, but here’s a small update on my research proposal. I completed a draft of my proposal last week, which wasn’t too bad. I have 14/15 sources for my literature review, so I’m almost there. My topic is very niche, so finding sources has been a struggle, but it’s coming along. I’m still deciding on a methodology since I don’t know which will feel right and leave me with much to say about it.

Discourse Analysis

As I step back from reading this, I honestly don’t 100% know what I just read. I’m looking forward to having it broken down because my head is still spinning. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts as I read.

One thing that left me “frazzled” about this reading was the vocabulary and jargon. Terms like hermeneutics, interminable, epoch, symlog, and much more left me scrambling to Google. Though I looked it up and kind of got an understanding while reading, it honestly made me feel overwhelmed.

“But that is only the result of the reflective movement in which the one thinking has reflected out of the unconscious operations of speaking and stands at a distance from himself. The real enigma of language, however, is that we can never really do this completely. Rather all thinking about language is already drawn back into language. We can only think in a language, and just this residing of our thinking in a language is the profound enigma that language presents to thoughts.”” (pg.4) Reading this felt like those scenes in shows or movies when a group is smoking weed, and someone says something so simple in a “profound” or “deep” way. For some reason, I feel like I lost brain cells reading this. It only furthered my confusion about this topic.

The idea behind discourse was really a head-scratcher for me since it made me look at things differently. I only thought of discourse as the conversation around a topic, but I learned that, in this article, discourse brings an object into being. (Whatever that exactly means) The analysis of it explores its relationship with reality, interprets it, and makes sense of it in relationship to the past and present. These feel pretty abstract to me, and seeing them put into action only illuminated so much for me. Even so, I appreciated that it presented a new way of thinking, especially since the article spoke about shifting how we view it.

One thing I did appreciate about this research was how thorough it was. I don’t feel I’ve come across anything as thorough as this. The execution of the operationalization scheme was very thoughtful. It left no stone unturned from the range in rankings to the dimensions. Further in their research and analysis, they engaged in member checks. As seen in a previous methodology, ensuring that the interviewee’s perspective and intentions are received is so important. This extra step shows just how far they’ll go for their research. Once they had collected all their data, there were seven levels of interpretation, with 16 sub-steps. They even read all the transcripts a minimum of four times. If this isn’t thorough work, I don’t know what is.

They also deciphered significance during the analysis and asked themselves what was noteworthy. Again, such thoughtful work. I think this is a question every researcher should ask themselves and really reflect on. It’s easy to get lost in the sauce and spew everything out, but sometimes that’s unnecessary.

While interviewing, the interviewers engaged in “provocative” questioning and asked things to challenge the interviewee. One, I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall to those interviews. Two, this was a really interesting approach. I felt it was unconventional, but it was appropriate and relevant for this research and topic.

In the conclusion, I liked that they acknowledged the other side of the spectrum and that this may be too much for a researcher. “Giving aforesaid reasons and an endlessly ticking clock ‘publish or perish’ in academia, someone will definitely prefer well-known and quicker research methods.” (pg.13) I appreciated the transparency and authenticity because it is a lot. However, as mentioned, it does make a difference and does benefit the research.

More Phenomenology

I almost forgot we were still discussing phenomenology, but I’m actually appreciative. Having read about it last week, I went into this reading feeling a bit more equipped and knowledgable for this. Here are my random thoughts!

First, I love that it gave historical context about phenomenology and everything encompassing. As someone who loves history, it was a treat learning about the origins of phenomenology.

“To arrive at certainty, anything outside immediate experience must be ignored, and in this way the external world is reduced to thecontents of personal consciousness.” (pg. 43) Husserl’s idea about the existence of objects was quite a headscratcher, but it made me lean into what I was reading. When people have these abstract thoughts, it makes me wonder how did they get to this point.

Random side note, but I love how paradigm was explained. To me, paradigm is one of those buzz words you kind of know, but aren’t confident enough to let it bleed into your vocabulary. The break down of it was so perfect, and again I loved that it added its origins.

“According to Hycner (1999, p. 156) “the phenomenon dictates the method (not vice-versa) including even the type of participants.”” (pg.45) Yes, yes, yes. There’s no one size fits all when conducting research, so of course the phenomenon should dictate how you navigate things. You should reflect on which method will bring out the most of the research.

“My central research question was: what is the contribution that co-operative education can make in the growing of talent of the South African people?” (pg.47) I love the topic of this study. If I haven’t mentioned it enough, I’m a teacher who loves reading and connecting things to education. The concept of co-operative education is so important, especially with older kids. This is a niche topic that has the makings of impactful work. That topic has the potential to be beneficial for all high schools and students.

“I recorded each interview on a separate cassette.” (pg.48) I almost forgot this was written in 2004, because a cassette?! What a blast from the past. Took me back to my early childhood, driving in my grandma’s car.

“The “term [analysis] usually means a „breaking into parts‟ and therefore often means a loss of the whole phenomenon…[whereas „explicitation‟ implies an]…investigation of the constituents of a phenomenon while keeping the context of the whole” (1999, p. 161).” (pg.49) This was incredibly interesting, and something I’ve never thought of. This is the kind of thinking that the research world needs. Language is so important, and I loved that this was brought up, because otherwise I don’t know if anyone would’ve picked up on this and what it does.

“Thereafter subjects received a copy of the text to validate that it reflected their perspectives regarding the phenomenon that was studied.” (pg.51) This is another reflection of the thoughtfulness of this study. It’s so easy for people to be misperceived or their words be misconstrued, so it’s so considerate to take an extra step to make sure people are accurately displayed. That’s precisely why this was in the section about its truth and validity.

Overall, this article highlighted important things about co-operative education and shed light on the gaps that still exist today. Even though this is a 20 year old article, it’s relevancy transcends time.

As pertaining to my research proposal, I’m slowly coming along. My topic of juvenile arthritis is quite niche, so finding research can be a challenge, since there isn’t too too much out there. However, I met with Craig and he directed me to some helpful databases that have been leading me in the right direction. So I’ve been sifting through articles, trying to find things I’d like to include in my literature review.

Phenomenology

This week, I’m taking a page out of Tyler’s book. These bullet points, in no particular order, are just some thoughts I had throughout. Overall though, I genuinely enjoyed reading this and exploring uncharted territory.

  • When I learned that this was about game writing, it instantly piqued my interest. It’s one of those jobs you don’t realize exist, at least not to me. Kind of like a camera engineer on an animation film or a hair fabricator on the set of Coraline.
  • “Remaining open to scholarship and methods in other established disciplines that may not seem relevant at first glance, offers a vital opportunity to explore more effective pedagogies of game design in higher education.” (pg.93) “Teaching writing with a focus on process, rather than product, is so widely accepted that “it may be difficult to imagine alternative instructional approaches” (De La Paz & McCutchen 2011, 32).” (pg.108) “Rather than simply amending coursework per the views of the practitioners in the field, faculty that engage in research on the industry in concert with academic disciplinary knowledge and teaching expertise, develop more effective instruction and approaches to curriculum design.” (pg.109) This made me think about my case study analysis, as Lin was a student in a program where the educators were very one-track-minded. It’s so important to be receptive to new ideas and perspectives so that you can bring freshness and more effectiveness to your teaching.
  • In my opinion, the three strands of pedagogical practices to support writers’ development (pg.95) are foundational and essential to help all writers. I definitely believe those are baselines all educators teaching writing should follow.
  • “Russell (2001) holds that effective writing instruction should focus on what instructors want students to do, rather than what they want them to know.” (pg.96) Personally, I think both are very vital to a student’s knowledge and success within a course. One is no more deserving of attention than the other.
  • “Despite romantic notions of video games being developed in basements by small groups of talented, enthusiastic friends, “[i]t is important to consider the mass production of games and the industrial process that makes their production possible, since both their aesthetic form and their consumption are influenced by this overarching structure” (Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al2015).” (pg.98) I love the concept of CHAT. As students and educators, we get lost in the sauce and sometimes find ourselves doing things just because it’s what’s expected and all we know. Giving historical background to things not only provides a better understanding but also can make the work feel more purposeful.
  • “Throughout the course of the study, I allowed my knowledge and experience as an educator to inform my efforts.” (pg.101) “Basic philosophical stances on phenomenology hold that it describes the essence of the lived experience, rather than draw conclusions based on the data collected.” (pg.104) To me, this is how you do research. Being led by your experience and knowledge makes things feel personal.
  • “(Semi-structured interview approach) allowed me to be present in the conversations without losing focus on the intention of the interview.” (pg.102) Conducting interviews can easily slip into a very formal experience, so I appreciated this reminder to be intentional and conscious when collecting your data.
  • “Game studios that “have indulged the writing process,” have created some of the most innovative and socially- engaged work to date (Bissell 2010).” (pg.110) I’m not a gamer, but occasionally I watch people play video games. This line, and really the entire article, made me think of games like The Last of Us, Life is Strange, or Until Dawn. These decision-making games, filled to the brim with emotions, are great depictions of phenomenal game writers. I mean, The Last of Us started as a video game and is now an HBO series. If that’s not indicative of good writing, I don’t know what is.
  • “We have to teach students more than just technology; we have to ask ourselves, “What can we give students that the internet cannot?”” (pg.111) As a teacher, this strikes me in a particular place. Technology has taken over so much of our lives, and innovation can be a struggle in education. However, I think this framework and mindset is precisely what today’s teachers need.

Grounded Theory vs. Content Analysis

Outside of the sheer size of this reading, the content threw me for the loop. For some reason, it felt like I was reading a foreign language. Sadly, this made reading this feel a lot more draining and, for the first time, an unenjoyable experience. Lately, I’ve been having mixed feelings about where I stand within this master’s program, so this didn’t help. However, with the help of Google and taking my time, I was able to kind of grasp the concept of grounded theory and content analysis.

There’s more than one way to navigate grounded theory and content analysis. Grounded theory is framed as theory development since it’s used to expand on things or bring forth information. This seems to be very data-driven, as that leads to the analysis. Content analysis is used to analyze data. Content analysis is more analytical, as it can concern codes, categorization, themes, etc. I appreciated that throughout the reading, it displayed both of these things at work and allowed for a comparison.

Something the two had in common is data analysis, where connections are found. However, within grounded theory, data guides the decision, whereas, in content analysis, data reduction processes are utilized. Something else that’s similar is they both maintain flexibility, as it concerns data sources, and they’re both based on naturalistic inquiry.

When considering the research outcomes, grounded theory results in substantive theory derived from a deductive approach and advances theories suitable for its supposed use. On the other hand, content analysis results in categories or themes, as opposed to theory development. There are a host of other differences, but, in my opinion, the biggest contrasts are the intentions and results.

Even knowing all of this, I still feel a little scatterbrained about the concepts in a realistic way. Usually, I walk away feeling better about things, but surprisingly, I don’t. Sure, you can read words on a page, but I’d like to understand this more straightforwardly, minus the jargon. It makes me look forward to the next presentation and reading others’ blogs so I can learn from people and better grasp things.

Understanding Literacy

Seeing the length of this article sent a chill up my spine. It was so intimidating! When I skimmed and saw the data, images, and words like “space,” “time,” and “twilight zone,” I thought, gosh, what is this about? However, when I saw it had to do with literacy, I immediately had a change of heart.

It’s no secret that I’m an English teacher, but I genuinely enjoy learning about the education system and how we can better our children’s quality of learning. I often find myself researching these issues, so literacy is definitely an interest of mine.

Currently, America is in a literacy crisis. Over 20% of adults don’t read on level, and 1/3 of kids cannot read at a basic level, so this truly is an issue. Articles like this are really important for those reasons exactly. There needs to be more conversation around literacy, how students develop it, and how we can get them to excel.

I thought analyzing literacy practices via two classes versus an online game was very creative. As someone who grew up playing online role-playing games, this instantly brought me back to the late 2000s and early 2010s. I also thought it was clever to have a framework of five dimensions. It gives clear intention and allows the audience to be perceptive when reading.

Hearing about Brian’s struggles with note-taking and how his history class was taught set off fireworks in my mind. One, it reminds me of the importance of the teacher’s engagement and enthusiasm for the subject, as it influences the students. (“Brian also noted that there was something about the way that the teacher “presented herself” that he found motivating for learning history – she had a sense of presenting “where kids would actually pay attention.”” pg.308) Two, be considerate when navigating note-taking. Personally, I think kids should take notes, but there should be a variety. For example, it could be straightforward note-taking or annotating; you can grade it, not grade it, anything. As a teacher, whatever you decide on, make sure it’s considerate and fair. Without that, students will be like Brian, getting lost in the sauce and writing poor notes they’ll never use.

Brian’s belief that English is uninteresting was heartbreaking. His relationship with the subject depicts the exact reason why, as English teachers, we have to try to reach students like him. There’s a stigma that it’s a boring subject and that if you know how to read, that’s enough to suffice. As Brian did, once students have accepted their identities as students, it’s hard for them to grow and change their perspectives. Hard, but not impossible.

Overall, I think this article was very eye-opening from a teacher’s perspective. Here are my takeaways as they pertain to Brian’s literacy practice and the five dimensions:

Translation: Brian absorbed the translation best via the online game because there was interest in the modality, familiarity, and identity present. Before the study, he already enjoyed video games and was familiar with that setting, allowing him to build and act on a version of himself. In his classes, the translation was seen through aspects of note-taking, which was straightforward. Since these things were graded, he completed tasks, but they lacked quality since this was not something he identified with.

Space & Time: In History, Brian thrived when the information was verbalized instead of written. For his English project, though it was independent research, it was very procedural. When things connected to history, his interest, a shift was seen as he wrote/absorbed the information in a spaceless/timeless manner. (Skimming, brief annotations, etc.) Brian struggled to navigate the broad space of the online game and spent a lot of time wandering and exploring, which left him being slower and more thoughtful in his decision-making.

Movement & Positions: While playing the game, Brian was very physically engaged. This was a reflection of his identity within the game. Brian rarely reached for his notes in his classes, and the dynamic was more like a back-and-forth, call-and-respond manner.

Rhythm & Speed: While taking notes in history, there was a disconnect, and Brian found himself slipping. He was a fast typer but a slow writer. This resulted in his weak, incomplete note. This also connects to his identity with English, as he found himself working at a slower pace and turning parts in at the last minute. At times, Brian was pensive, which can slow things down, but overall, he was consistent and routined in his gameplay. This kept things steady.

Network Continuity: In his classes, Brian rarely participated. Outside of not being interested in English, he didn’t contribute to larger discussions in either class and only interacted with his friends. Though he stopped playing for a short period of time, overall, Brian’s gameplay was continuous throughout. This being something he genuinely enjoyed, it allowed for more continuity.

An Autoethnography Concerning Narrative Identity

This was quite an unexpected but enjoyable read. When under the guise that you’re going to read about research, learning that you’re reading a narrative piece is a pleasant surprise. Before reading this and looking up autoethnography, I had no idea this was a type of academic writing. This being, to me, a new approach to depict a kind of research made it more enjoyable. It felt like I was just reading a memoir instead of something for a research course.

This reading has opened my eyes to a new way of academic writing, which I can see myself utilizing in the future. If we showcase the different types of research and academic writing, people wouldn’t be so hesitant to write or research. When people learn different ways to do something, they can figure out what works best for them and be more receptive.

In my opinion, the dialogue section was equally as interesting as the narrative. Again, this was something I’d never seen before. I think it adds to the personal touch of this type of research. Seeing a genuine back and forth, question and answer felt authentic and fitting for this research style.

I really enjoyed this reading, but my only hold-up was the use of the word retarded. It makes me cringe and feel so uncomfortable, so it gave me the ick when I read it. That word bothers me so much that it can almost overshadow things, but I understand that in the context and time period that it’s being used, I guess it makes sense.

An Autoethnography on Learning About Autoethnography

We’re on a roll tonight because this is another reading that I actually enjoyed. To me, it shook the idea of traditional research on its head, and I loved it.

For starters, I thought it was relatable. “Most people, like me, have grown up believing that positivism is science (Neuman, 1994). Without knowing about the alternatives, I have been socialized to believe that “real” science is quantitative, experimental, and understood by only a select and elite few.” (pg.147) This perfectly sums up my experience with academia. It ostracizes unconventional thinking and frames it as illegitimate and unworthy of attention and recognition. “Ways of inquiry that connect with real people, their lives, and their issues are seen as soft and fluffy and, although nice, not valuable in the scientific community.” (pg. 147) This idea of positivism, which I had never heard of, was really interesting to me. This highlighted the main problem with traditional research: it upholds the elitism and exclusivity of academia. As mentioned, that’s why it’s so important to have other options when conducting research.

I also appreciate that it didn’t shy away from the reality of how this impacts minorities in academia. “How much more promise could it hold for people far more marginalized than I?” (pg.148) By opening the door and being receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things, it positively impacts the entire community. Not only does it give voice to the voiceless, but it also advances the perceptions and information we have about a subject.

This way of research allows the author to be an active participant in research, which isn’t often done. As mentioned in the reading, we are trained to be objective in our writing. However, taking this approach can unlock so much more. “If a researcher‟s voice is omitted from a text, the writing is reduced to a mere summary and interpretation of the works of others, with nothing new added.” (pg. 148) How impactful can the research be if you’re just a mouthpiece?

I’m so glad I’ve been able to learn about autoethnography. I almost wish I had picked this for my presentation, hahaha.

Liminal Spaces & Research Identity

Let me start by saying, off the back, this was overwhelming. The sheer length made me want to immediately close my laptop and escape elsewhere. Then, when I took a closer look at some of the language, it made me want to retreat even more. I guess this is the part where the reading started to drain us, and I hate that for us! As I read, I had to remind myself that this is for my learning and development as a writer. (The mantra only helped so much)

“Introductory composition classes serve as such a threshold into the “new world” of the academy.” (pg.11) When discussing the idea of introductory courses as liminal spaces, I felt this it summed up exactly what the expectations of an introductory class should be. Sometimes, when entering an academic space, it often feels like you’re expected to know all the lingo, criteria, tasks, etc., right from the jump. I’ve even felt it in my first weeks of the writing program. If everyone used the framework of certain classes, or arguably every class, as being a threshold into something, I think it could be incredibly beneficial for students. Academia can be very intimidating and overwhelming, resulting in people deciding to steer clear of it. However, if everyone took this approach as it being a threshold and managing their expectations and adjusting the course to that concept, maybe more people would feel inclined to explore things.

I really enjoyed when the article discussed the influence textbooks have on courses and academia as a whole. “Publisher guidelines, mass marketing, and economic demands often shape these texts in ways somewhat beyond their authors’ control.” (pg.14) As mentioned, textbooks represent popular strategies and methods that could be used in instructional materials and research. However, textbooks can bring up a lot of misinformation and create narrow-minded views. Due to the popularity of certain textbooks in any field, that information can become widespread. Depending on the information within, it can create millions of people who believe or accept something that isn’t accurate or not wholly reflective of the content. (This currently is being highlighted within the medical field and their textbooks) It is also important to acknowledge capitalism has an influence on these sources. As the quote stated, guidelines, marketing, and finances shape these texts. That’s why it’s so important for instructors to have various resources, such as articles like this, so learners can get a better scope of research and material and gather information from multiple perspectives.

Even so, it is still very sticky when looking elsewhere for information. I like that the article used to work pollution; it’s so fitting! Some online information can do just as pollution does. If it’s sullied information, like pollution, it can fog and distort things. It makes it harder to tell what’s real from the fake. “The “Internet Detective” (Place et al. 2006) more forcefully presents the idea that students cannot count on “regular” research skills for college-level work” (pg.17) This is arguably the most important part of research. With so much garbage on the internet, we have no choice but to become internet detectives. Especially as higher-education students, we have to be extra inquisitive and go the extra mile to hunt to find the truth. Research and truth go hand-in-hand, so you can’t include nonsense in research.

“In almost every example of instructional materials we examined, students are directed to follow a series of linear steps to become good academic researchers.” (pg.19) I’m glad this was under the outdated strategies section because that’s what this is. Linear learning is antiquated and needs to be put on the back burner. Everyone learns differently, so having that as your only line of defense is problematic. Just as there are many ways to research, there are many ways to become a great researcher. Only providing or focusing on a linear way of achieving this isn’t helpful and can be discouraging. It can leave students feeling defeated if they miss a step or aren’t at the step they think they should be. We should be learning and growing all throughout life, so throw the steps away!

“Students are certainly one of the populations excluded from conversations that result in the academic making of knowledge, and although it is through the introductory composition course that students are seen as entering this institutional space, they are nevertheless identified as arriving in this space with a lack of ability to participate from a position of equality — or even at all.” (pg.24) This conversation about identity rings so true to what we all feel as students or learners. This goes beyond academia, but the one learning is often left out of the conversation, which can impact how they learn. It sounds so logical to get opinions from the learners about what they think would help them learn, yet this can be a rare sight. Just because someone is in the process of growth doesn’t mean they don’t bring anything to the table or that their opinions are invalid. If anything, their opinions are equally as worthy, or arguably more, since they’re the ones who will be on the receiving end. Students, knowing this reality, can detach themselves from academia. “Students are certainly one of the populations excluded from conversations that result in the academic making of knowledge, and although it is through the introductory composition course that students are seen as entering this institutional space, they are nevertheless identified as arriving in this space with a lack of ability to participate from a position of equality — or even at all.” (pg.26) These little microaggressions may never be absorbed or recognized in a conscious mind, but deep in the subconscious, they make waves. These tiny things lead to big feelings and decisions, which will have people wind up in a place they don’t really understand how they arrived at.

All in all, I would say this insightful article spotlighted the need to be conscious. We need to be conscious of the way we teach, interact, research, everything. It’s a chain reaction, so every interaction, everything we read, everything we soak up will manifest. We want good manifestation that will create more engaged, confident researchers and learners.