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Tracing Discursive Resources: How Students Use Prior Genre Knowledge to Negotiate Writing Realities Anis Bawarshi, Cathryn Cabral, Jennifer Halpin, Megan.

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Presentation on theme: "Tracing Discursive Resources: How Students Use Prior Genre Knowledge to Negotiate Writing Realities Anis Bawarshi, Cathryn Cabral, Jennifer Halpin, Megan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tracing Discursive Resources: How Students Use Prior Genre Knowledge to Negotiate Writing Realities Anis Bawarshi, Cathryn Cabral, Jennifer Halpin, Megan Kelly, Shannon Mondor, Angela Rounsaville * Researchers Not Present: Sergio Casillas, Rachel Goldberg, Melanie Kill * University of Washington Conference on College Composition and Communication New Orleans 2008

2 Motivations for Inquiry

3 Research Questions *Why do students draw on some genres over others when traversing the boundaries between high school and college? *Based on what they report in open-ended interviews, how do students use prior genre knowledge when they encounter new writing tasks in first year writing? *What can facilitate the acquisition of genres across activity systems and domains?

4 Research Design & Methods Phase One: Survey of First Year Composition students re: past literacy experiences (reading, writing, digital literacy), both in and out of school; Phase Two: Discourse-based interviews asking students to reflect on how they called on previous discursive resources in order to write both high and low stakes papers in FYC; Phase Three: Collection and analysis of interviewees writing produced in FYC, as well as syllabi and writing assignments from instructors (in progress).

5 Student Sample Surveys distributed to all students enrolled in 33 sections of English 131: Expository Writing during Fall Quarter 2006 (N=748) Number of students responding to the survey: 64 Number of follow-up interviews: 18

6 Phase One: Survey Part I: Demographic Information (gender, race, class, educational background, intended course of study) Part II: Access to technology at home and school Part III: Identification of types of communication written in school, at work, and outside of school and work

7 Phase One: Survey Part IV: Reflective Questions (open-ended) 1. What types of writing do you most enjoy? Why? 2. What types of writing do you least enjoy? Why? 3. What do you consider to be your most successful piece of writing? Why? 4. What do you consider to be your least successful piece of writing? Why? 5. Considering the syllabus you have received for English 131, your first week preliminary essay, and your work towards your first major paper, what high school writing experiences (if any) do you think will help you succeed in the course?

8 Phase Two: Interviews Basic Interview Questions What did the Preliminary Essay assignment ask you to do? From the kinds of writing youve done in the past, what did the Preliminary Essay remind you of? From the kinds of writing youve done in the past, what did you use or draw on in writing the Preliminary Essay? What did the Major Paper assignment ask you to do? From the kinds of writing youve done in the past, what did the Major Paper remind you of? From the kinds of writing youve done in the past, what did you use or draw on in writing the Major Paper?

9 Preliminary Findings Overview Hidden Riches Locked in Domains Boundary Crossers vs. Boundary Guarders (as indicated in 3 ways) Genre research is appallingly hard to design when we think of genre as social action

10 Findings in Context Student Sample Demographics

11 Findings in Context 1.To demonstrate an awareness of the [rhetorical] strategies that writers use in different writing contexts. 2.To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing. 3.To produce complex, analytical, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts. 4.To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proof- reading writing. Shared Learning Outcomes

12 Findings in Context Shared Curricular Structure Preliminary Essay (shared across sections) Sequence 1: culminating in First Major Paper (5-7 pages) Sequence 2: culminating in Second Major Paper (5-7 pages) Portfolio Revision Sequence (70%)

13 Hidden Riches in Student Discursive Resources: Genres Written Most in School

14 Hidden Riches in Student Discursive Resources: Genres Written Most at Work

15 Hidden Riches in Student Discursive Resources: Genres Written Most in Other Domains

16 Genre % of Respondents who wrote genre in any context Genre% of Respondents who wrote genre in any context five-paragraph essay95% 94% lab write-up/report92% lecture notes92% compare/contrast paper 91% argumentative essay89% informal presentation89% formal presentation89% literary analysis84% instant messaging84% research paper83% book report81% opinion/position paper 81% PowerPoint80% analysis of acad. essays 77% reading notes77% Soc networking profile 77% personal letter75% fiction73% creative nonfiction72% poetry 72% free-writing72% resume72% text messaging69% summary69% journal writing69% description66% evaluation paper64% speech64% personal narrative59% blog or online journal 52% storytelling50% business letter50% online discussion board 42% newspaper article41% blog or online journal38% song lyrics34% letter to the editor27% web page text27% web page design25% Prior Experience with a Genre in Any Context

17 Reported Genres in Survey Reflective Questions

18 Finding 1: Hidden Riches

19 (Lack of) Domain Overlap

20 Finding 2: Locked in Domains Students have written in many diverse genres Theyve written in all three of the domains we supplied--school, work, and outside of school and work--although they wrote most extensively in school and outside of school and work Their writing did not tend to cross those domains, except for a select few genres, most of which represent correspondence-type writing

21 Finding 3: Boundary Crossers vs. Boundary Guarders Interviewees responses suggest that they tended to either cross (vigorously adapt) or guard their prior knowledge, as indicated in the following three ways: Markers of confidence in describing task Talk of whole genres vs. talk of strategies Emergence (or lack thereof) of NOT talk

22 The Boundary between the Preliminary Essay & the Major Paper Preliminary Essay first assignment low stakes not for credit no established classroom community no framing uncertain purpose in course context audience unspecified Major Paper 1 culmination of sequence high stakes significant part of grade greater sense of classroom community scaffolded assignments clear purpose in course context sense of audience

23 First Indication: Confidence Level All interviewees identified the key tasks of the Preliminary Essay with confidence (e.g. Katrina: evaluate whether the Common Book is a good idea or not) Most interviewees exhibited a loss of confidence in defining key tasks of the (more complex) Major Paper (e.g. Sonya: hard to know… its so broad or Kate: make a claim about a subject) A handful of interviewees expressed great confidence in identifying the complex new task ( e.g. Katrina: developing a claim and arguing one side or how you present, you thought of something versus just like explaining or guiding)

24 Second Indication: (Whole) Genres to Strategies Uhm, just like a general book review, uhm, like you do like in a typical standard uhm, you know, literature class in high school, you know, like in American literature class You read a book, analyze it, you know, write a five-paragraph essay about, you know, a theme or a symbol or something specific about the book and then you know... uhm, so just, it seemed pretty standard. Uhm, it reminded me of a personal narrative, because the question in the prompt was asking you to draw on your experience. Uhm, and I have written, in high school I wrote a lot of personal narrative type things for scholarships, I applied for a lot of scholarship uhm, you know, like introductions, like I had never used like a road map before…Uhm, the objection and response, I had never done that before. So I remember the second prompt, uhm, I just thought a lot of my AP classes, especially the history ones where definitely they ask you to come up with a stance and to defend it And one of the things that I always did when analyzing my quotes is, I use a quote and then two sentences analysis, at least two sentences, if not more...

25 From Genres to Strategies Preliminary Essay Genres Reminded of: 28 Strategies Reminded of: 17 (6/14 students reported no strategies) Genres Used: 18 Strategies used: 23 (3/14 students reported no strategies) Major Paper Genres Reminded of: 25 Strategies Reminded of: 28 (6/18 students reported no strategies) Genres Used: 62 Strategies used: 101

26 Crossers & Strategies/ Guarders & Genres Pattern 1 (Crossers): Students drew on few whole genres BUT many strategies (need e.g.) Pattern 2 (Guarders): Students drew on many whole genres AND many strategies (need e.g.)

27 Third Indication: NOT Talk Just because the claim changed it and it is not a five paragraph essay anymore, it is different, different style and so Yeah, it was not like literary analysis but uhm, like just how to make my argument like clear and not like ambiguous or anything like that Uhm, well the prompt was kind of on the lines of, if you were writing a review about a chosen topic, and I chose uhm, the man in my basement by I think Mosley, Walter Mosley. So I wrote it kind of in a new format so not particularly essay, but I put in like the kind of review aspect for like, this author wrote these books before, you know, like kind of giving a background of the author, but more then I would in an essay. I never written a paper like this before really, uhm, I wrote a term paper in my junior year, uhm, about a novel, but I mean that was a lot different because she gave us a paper about what every paragraph was supposed to be like…. I guess it made it a little harder just because like my term paper was based on one work, one like a book, and then this was based on four main things. So I kind of used the same strategy a little bit, uhm, just when you are doing it on one book it is easier to focus because you only, you are only drawing from one thing, but uhm, here I had to kind of integrate it more

28 NOT Talk, cont. The emergence of NOT talk by category - 4 cases of NOT asked to do 9 cases of NOT genres reminded of 1 case of NOT strategy reminded of 5 cases of NOT genres used/drawn on 8 cases of NOT strategies used/ drawn on The emergence of NOT Talk by percentage - Preliminary Essay: 57% use NOT Talk Major Paper: 83% use NOT Talk

29 Guarders & Crossers Defined Prior Knowledge Boundary Guarders Type A: No Not talk and maintenance of known genres regardless of task Type B: Some strategy-related Not talk and modification of known genres (by adding strategies) New Knowledge Boundary Crossers Express uncertainty about tasks Have many more instances of Not talk in all categories Tend to shift away from whole (identifiable) genres toward strategies

30 Adapting Prior Genres & Strategies Miles: The exposure to diverse types of writing I received in high school gives me confidence that I will know how to approach each assignment. Also, my previous teachers emphasis on varied use of language and the elimination of passive language (to be verbs) will help insure that my writing is not bland or boring. Emphasis on how to construct a thesis was helpful, even as we break away from that basic construct into producing more complex claims.

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32 Discussion Questions How do we tap into students hidden riches? Do outcomes facilitate or hinder transfer of discursive resources? What role can explicit teaching play in helping students negotiate writing realities? How do we study genre? To what extent does this research contribute to the study of transfer?


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