English 891z: Introduction to Research on Writing
This course provides an introduction to research methodologies in composition/rhetoric and literacy studies. One of the challenges of writing research is understanding its moving parts—what these are, how they interact, and how they evolve over time. Therefore, the course is structured as one pass at designing a research project: beginning with problems and questions; moving through design, collection, and analysis; and ending with writing and reflection. Along the way, we will read a wide array of approaches to research, and hear from several guest speakers on these topics, in pursuit of the following goals:
- identify the pressing issues, questions, and debates that motivate research on writing
- become familiar with a range of methodological options in the fields of rhetoric, composition, and literacy (visiting some others as well)
- strengthen your ability to evaluate research and identify areas of intervention
- engage in the kinds of thinking and inquiry activities required for qualitative research
- question and critically reflect on what it means to conduct research on writing
Required Texts (Additional articles and chapters posted on course Moodle page)
Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. 3rd Edition. Sage, 2013. By Joseph A. Maxwell (on calendar as Maxwell)
Writing Studies Research in Practice: Methods and Methodologies. Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2012. By Eds. Lee Nickoson and Mary P. Sheridan (on calendar as WSRP)
Reading responses (500 words/week), 20%
Reading and preparation writing are absolutely required for this course. Especially because of the smaller course size, everyone is expected to be present, prepared, and participating during every class meeting. You will synthesize each week’s reading by responding to the following prompts:
- What interesting issues, complexities, or lines of inquiry do these readings raise for you?
- What do you find yourself responding to most strongly? Where are your skepticisms or concerns?
- What questions does this work pose in your mind?
This writing is informal and just for you. Bring it to class in whatever form suits you best. You will use it as a basis for your discussion contributions.
Pilot study and critical reflection (2000 words), 30%
This is a two-part project.
- First, conduct a short exploratory study on a research question that currently interests you. This activity aims primarily to give you hands on experience focusing a research question, planning a study, and experimenting with interviewing, text analysis, observation or other methods. You might approach this as a pilot or preliminary study for a future study.
- Then, write a 2000-word critical reflection on the study, including a description of the study’s site, participants, and data collection; identification of any themes or patterns for potential analysis; and a reflection on 1) how your study fits into the landscape of writing research’s problems and questions, 2) how you and your participants experienced the study, and 3) what you will change for the next time around.
Evolving research project proposal (4000 words), 50%
This also is a two-part project.
- Over the course of the semester, you will compose draft sections of an evolving research project proposal, based on your understanding of each week’s reading as well as your own scholarly interests. These sections will include a research problem and questions, conceptual or theoretical framework, methodology, data collection, and data analysis.
- By the end of the semester, you will be ready to revise these sections into the framework of a research proposal, potentially for a dissertation or other research goal. It is deemed “evolving” in recognition that it will continue to change after this course, primarily with a more substantial literature review than you will be able to accomplish this semester.
All reading and writing listed on a given day should be completed for discussion on that day.
|Week 1||1/25||Mapping Research on Writing
|Week 2||2/1||Problem and Exigency
Due: Evolving research problem
|Week 3||2/8||Theoretical / Conceptual / Interpretive Frameworks
Due: Evolving theoretical framework
|Week 4||2/15||Questions and Design
Due: Evolving research questions
Due: Evolving methodology
|Week 6||3/1||Ethics: Site / Participants / IRB
Due: CITI training certificate (to begin IRB approval)
|Week 7||3/8||Methods: Data Collection
Due: Pilot Study Plan
Guest: Rebecca Nowacek
|3/15||No Class – Spring Break|
|Week 8||3/22||Methods: Data Collection
Due: Evolving data collection
Guest: Amy Wan
|Week 9||3/29||Methods: Data Analysis
Due: Evolving data analysis
Guest: Angela Rounsaville
|Week 10||4/5||Methods: Data Analysis
Due: Pilot Study Critical Reflection Draft
Guest: Christa Olson
|Week 11||4/12||Ethics and Reflection
Due: Pilot Study Critical Reflection
Guest: Steven Alvarez
|Week 12||4/19||Writing Research
Guest: Kate Vieira
|Week 13||4/26||Research Presentations|
|5/8||Evolving Dissertation Proposal Due|