I have a plan of attack!…and Jarrett et al on transfer

I’m calling it a day, and proud that I actually worked today.  Here’s what I got done and a few musings and questions on what I learned.

I went through the comments I received from my co-chair and my professor on the first draft of my prospectus that I wrote a few weeks ago.  I made a Word doc and summarized all the important themes throughout the comments.  Then I made a plan of attack for revising the draft, which includes revamping the research questions pretty much completely, adding to the lit. review section but at the same time cutting it down so I don’t lit review on and on for 20+ pages, backgrounding literature and foregrounding my terms, my voice, and my arguments in the conceptual framework section, adding a section about the unit I want to design, and developing the methods section in depth (it is bare bones if that right now). 

I also made a timeline / syllabus / schedule for this semester that I will discuss with my co-chairs next week.  I put a tentative defense date for the week of March 12, the week before Cs, so we’ll see what my advisors think about that.  I also confirmed a co-chair meeting via email for next Wednesday where we will discuss my timeline and other members of my committee. 

In the afternoon, I spent a few hours reading Jarrett et al’s 2009 essay “Pedagogical Memory.”  They offer what they call pedagogical memory as a framework that writing instructors and researchers can use to approach questions of transfer from first year comp.  They interviewed almost 100 college juniors and seniors about their first year writing course and their upper level writing course, looking for what students remembered from their first year course and how they charted a path to their upper level course.  They organize their data according to four categories: students that had difficulty remembering or explaining what they learned in FYC, students who talked about writing as a process, students who saw writing as technical correctness and grammar, and students who constructed learning about writing in the moment during the interview. 

Jarrett et al then conclude that based on their data, transfer is difficult to chart and that it might be the wrong question.  Instead, they suggest our energies be spent in helping students to translate discourses about writing from site to site.  They call this “pedagogical memory work” which involves reflective writing as a tool to map pasts and imagine writing futures. 

I found the article fascinating, as many of the pieces of data that Jarrett et al cite are similar to the data I collected from my former students for the small study I put together for Qualitative Methods last term.  I also think that the way the authors frame this issue in terms of “memory” is intriguing – they avoid using the term “meta-awareness” all together. 

A major note: they do not mention technologies whatsoever, or a definition of writing for the 21st century that may be expanding beyond print and traditional genres/formats.  This is where my work can add to this conversation, I think.  Does new media writing help students to move from writing site to writing site more fluidly?  Does reflection over new media composition serve the same purposes as reflection over print writing? 

I will definitely use the Jarrett et al article in my meta-awareness section of the lit. review.  I also culled their works cited for more articles on transfer which I will look at tomorrow. 

 

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