Presentation on theme: "Tracing Discursive Resources: How Students Use"— Presentation transcript:
1 Tracing Discursive Resources: How Students Use Prior Genre Knowledge to Negotiate Writing RealitiesAnis Bawarshi, Cathryn Cabral, Jennifer Halpin,Megan Kelly, Shannon Mondor, Angela Rounsaville*Researchers Not Present: Sergio Casillas, Rachel Goldberg, Melanie Kill*University of WashingtonConference on College Composition and Communication • New Orleans • 2008
2 Motivations for Inquiry What prompted the study – what were we seeking to find out?
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?These are not the questions that we started with – we need a little more sense of the original purpose of the study and our broad questions first, then we can share what we narrowed them down to…
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 SampleSurveys 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: 64Number 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 schoolPart 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 you’ve done in the past, what did the Preliminary Essay remind you of?From the kinds of writing you’ve 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 you’ve done in the past, what did the Major Paper remind you of?From the kinds of writing you’ve done in the past, what did you use or draw on in writing the Major Paper?
9 Preliminary Findings Overview Hidden RichesLocked in DomainsBoundary Crossers vs. Boundary Guarders (as indicated in 3 ways)Genre research is appallingly hard to design when we think of genre as ‘social action’
11 Findings in Context Shared Learning Outcomes To demonstrate an awareness of the [rhetorical] strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.To produce complex, analytical, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.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)Shared Curricular StructureSequence 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 School13
14 ‘Hidden Riches’ in Student Discursive Resources: Genres Written Most at Work 14
15 ‘Hidden Riches’ in Student Discursive Resources: Genres Written Most in Other Domains 15
16 Prior Experience with a Genre in Any Context % of Respondents who wrote genre in any contextfive-paragraph essay 95%94%lab write-up/report 92%lecture notes 92%compare/contrast paper 91%argumentative essay 89%informal presentation 89%formal presentation 89%literary analysis 84%instant messaging 84%research paper 83%book report 81%opinion/position paper 81%PowerPoint 80%analysis of acad. essays 77%reading notes 77%Soc networking profile 77%personal letter 75%fiction 73%creative nonfiction 72%poetry %free-writing 72%resume 72%text messaging 69%summary 69%journal writing 69%description 66%evaluation paper 64%speech 64%personal narrative 59%blog or online journal 52%storytelling 50%business letter 50%online discussion board 42%newspaper article 41%blog or online journal 38%song lyrics 34%letter to the editor 27%web page text 27%web page design 25%
17 Reported Genres in Survey Reflective Questions 17
20 Finding 2: Locked in Domains Students have written in many diverse genresThey’ve 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 workTheir 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 taskTalk of whole genres vs. talk of strategiesEmergence (or lack thereof) of ‘NOT’ talkTransitioning from the (assumed) familiarity of the Preliminary Essay writing task into “new” writing situations in FYC
22 The ‘Boundary’ between the Preliminary Essay & the Major Paper first assignmentlow stakesnot for creditno established classroom communityno framinguncertain purpose in course contextaudience unspecifiedMajor Paper 1culmination of sequencehigh stakessignificant part of gradegreater sense of classroom communityscaffolded assignmentsclear purpose in course contextsense 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… it’s 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”)This seems to be one of the early indicators of who will cross and who will guard; the confidence seems to coincide with a willingness or even strong desire to maintain prior genres – for Katrina, this is her experience writing ‘pro or con’ student newspaper pieces
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 EssayGenres Reminded of:28Strategies Reminded of:17(6/14 students reported no strategies)Genres Used:18Strategies used:23(3/14 students reported no strategies)Major PaperSo what are the patterns here: a shift from the prelim to the major paper, from being reminded of more than they actually use (in terms of genres) to using far more than what they are initially reminded of. And certainly interviewees are both reminded of and draw on more from their prior writing experiences when faced with the more complex tasks of the major paper. But to us, the most interesting shift is in the wild proliferation of strategies used – disproportionate to the increase in genres used.Genres Reminded of:25Strategies Reminded of:28(6/18 students reported no strategies)Genres Used:62Strategies 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
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 do9 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” TalkMajor Paper: 83% use “NOT” Talk
29 ‘Guarders’ & ‘Crossers’ Defined Prior Knowledge Boundary GuardersType A: No “Not” talk and maintenance of known genres regardless of taskType B: Some strategy-related “Not” talk and modification of known genres (by adding strategies)New Knowledge Boundary CrossersExpress uncertainty about tasksHave many more instances of “Not” talk in all categoriesTend 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 teacher’s 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.”
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?