Reading and Reorganizing

Today’s agenda included reading a couple more articles on transfer of learning from the writing classroom, and then thinking carefully about a few sections of my prospectus draft and considering ways to expand and revise.  I decided to work from home today because I didn’t have any other appointments on my calendar, and I recently cleaned my desk, so I was happy to have some work space (see below – although it doesn’t look too clean, it is, trust me!)

my desk at home

So I read two articles today: Foertsch’s 1995 article “Where Cognitive Psychology Applies” and Bergman and Zepernick’s 2007 “Disciplinarity and Transfer” study of how students learn to write in their discipline.  Foertsch’s article is a bit dated, but she argued that we need to use theories of local and general knowledge to teach writing, combining insight from cog psych and memory studies with social theories of learning and discourse communities.  Bergman and Zepernick’s study was pretty negative towards first year comp., and they land in the camp that writing should ideally be taught in the disciplines and that not much transfers from FYC to other writing contexts.

After I read these two articles, I did a bit of “mapping my study,” where I thought about what I really want to study and measure with my diss.  I started to reformulate my research questions, as you can see at the bottom of my notes, and then I did some practical thinking about how much data I can collect and where it will come from.

Prospectus Notes

I want to study two writing classrooms doing new media composition and gather the following data:

  • Interviews with instructor: at beginning of the unit, at the end of the unit, and at the end of the course (x2)
  • Interviews with 2-4 students from each class: at the end of the new media unit and at the end of the course, potentially 6 months after the course concludes as well (x2)
  • Observations: one workshop day, one lesson on metalanguage, one goal-setting day (x2)
  • Documents: Student reflections throughout the new media unit (on blog), reflection prompts written by instructor, metalanguage lesson plan materials, workshop lesson plan materials (x2)

So if I do all this, I will end up doing 22 interviews, 6 classroom observations, examining 8 student reflection blogs, and 10 instructor-generated prompts.  That seems like a lot – although I have no concept of how much data collection is “enough” for a diss project.  I will have to think on this and run it by my co-chairs on Wednesday.

The last thing I did today was go through my literature review in my first draft.  I mapped it out for myself my paragraph and I thought about ways to incorporate the articles I’ve read over the past few weeks into it, as well as how to move some of the material that I put in the conceptual framework into the lit review.  My concern is that it’s getting enormous, and I’m not sure what to keep and what to cut.  I feel like I need all the parts I have though.

I have a 5 PM appointment with the gym tonight, and then choral union this evening, so I will be getting some exercise and SINGING-yay!  I hope that tomorrow I can come back refreshed and start to actually rewrite some of the lit review and conceptual framework.  And plan the meeting with my co-chairs for Wednesday.