picking up where I left off

Lemme finish with question number five…

What I mean by it’s never been done before is that it’s never been done in Texarkana before. There are many facets of the bi-state city that influence identity construction of our students. So maybe this research isn’t important for the whole world or country or state or even our town, but it is important for educators to understand the cultural coding that students perform in there daily linguistic experiences.

Question Number Six: What assumptions about academic scholarship shape your work?

Well, I think I may have answered this in the last question. But to add to this (which you know I can do because I always have something else to say) I would posit that there is a great need for research in our town regarding the formation and participation of people in various communities of practice and how some of those CoPs can be marginalized because of the dialectal issues of the larger linguistic landscape. Note: I just read this sentence to Melissa, and we realized two things: one, no one (except our directors) will ever really know our diss topics as well as we know each others. And, two, if would have read this sentence at the beginning of last summer I wouldn’t have know what the hell it meant!! Wow…learning–it’s way cool. And, that folks is why I’m here…just for me to know that my mind is capable of learning something I didn’t know last year!!!


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Question Number One: What are your motivations or purposes for researching? What is it you want to know?

Earlier I established my positionality as a social constructivist. With that in mind, I think part of why I want to study this is because I want to help members of the teaching community of practice at my university and local k-12 schools to help their students become aware of the influences that the linguistic landscape has on our students. Another thing I would like to accomplish in this research is a greater acceptance of the varieties of English, specifically the southern dialect. 

Question Two: What do you already believe about the research problem?

I already believe that the lack of awareness is effecting the way many instructors view the literacy backgrounds and local literacy practices that our students  come to college with. I think my status as an outsider-insider-outsider will allow my to identify the richness of the Texarkana linguistic landscape (TxkLL) to forward the idea that the global south is a viable part of the academic community.

Question Three: What epistemological and cultural beliefs do you have related to the research problem?

As I mention in a previous post my epistemology is like a crystal, it’s multifaceted, and I think knowledge is garnered in social settings. I also think knowledge is gained through awareness. But, unfortunately, awareness is a difficult thing to measure. So, I think my research will be shaped by many factors, such as race, gender, level of education, career, economic, religion, and rural communities of practice. However, those are the same factors that create the richness of the TxkLL and these are the ideas that I think need to critical inquiry into the connections with the academia.

Question Four: What is your ideological commitment to the subject?

For some reason Vygotsky comes to mind when I consider this question. The idea that language is a social act is an idea that I would like to study through the eyes of my students. I know that is, again, a difficult thing to measure, which is why I think looking at the LL, even from a historical sense, is a way to connect the social aspect with literacy. 

Question Five: What professional or intellectual need does this research fill?

Takayoshi puts this another way, too: “Does this work need to be done?” I like this question better because right now I’m only thinking about finding topics for papers and my dissertation. But, if you were to ask me the second question, I would have to say because it’s never been done before.

Taking a break more in a min…

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Crystal Clear

I’ve been thinking about crystalization v. triangulation. Until last year, I had never really known about triangulation. When I first learned of it, I thought it sounded cool. But I guess I’m not a possivistist; I don’t think there is only one truth.
When I went to a NASA teacher training, I learned about growing crystals in space. The interesting take away for me was that becasue of zero gravity, the crystal is allowed to grow equally in every direction. I don’t really know what this means to crystalization in research. What I’ve heard from Dr. Park is that the truth is multifaceted. If that is the case, then in my research, and if research is like growing crystals in space, then there are so many more places to look for the truth.

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more thoughts on “Differences”

I had the thought this morning that there are more ideas I can add to uses of language to describe things: topography and geopolitical/political borders
Also, I need to think about labeling v. identity
Question: How can I teach members of my hometown monoliguistic English speaking town that many people are now using WEs?

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noticing differences

Okay…I haven’t started the heuristic model yet….but I will. However, tonight while I was walked Jordy, I noticed these little purple flowers. We don’t have those in the South. That thought started a long string of connected language usage ideas. In the south, we use different ways to talk about the weather, flowers and other vegetation, child rearing, food, politics, religion, and literature. So, maybe this isn’t directly thinking about my research question, but it’s good fodder to extrapolate material from later… maybe…it’s prolly all crap. 

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Where in the World Am I? or Global Positioning

I have been asked several questions lately about where I stand in the field of composition research. So, to position myself I’m going to use two tools. The first is from the text book on research that I used in Research 800 last year. And, the second, is a heuristic given to me yesterday. However, before I go there, I want to throw some terms/phrases I like and that I think describe my style of teaching and/or philosophy.

  • constructivism
  • inclusivity 
  • collaboration
  • Bourdieu
  • attitudinal awareness
  • mutuality
  • critical pedagogy
  • linguistic landscape
  • habitus
  • cultural capital
  • retention rates
  • communities of practice
  • reducing student text appropriation

I know it’s a lot, but I need to get these ideas out of my head and onto paper (or blog in this case). Also, somewhere these ideas must intersect. Note: interestingly, I had to add many of these words to my computer’s dictionary..haha..I guess my computer is smarter now. Anyway, as I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself, these ideas have some commonality in the constuctivist’s paradigm in the text book Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology by Donna Mertins. According to her table of “Basic Beliefs Associated With the Major Paradigms” , the axiology of a constuctivist is “balanced representation of views; raise participants’ awareness; community rapport” (2010, p. 11). So, this  answers Dr. Park’s question about my positionality in research…well, only partially–I don’t think I’ll ever totally figure it out. As for my ontological perspective, well, I think there are multiple meanings to phenomena that I observe. I’ve always have sort of an eclectic view on teaching…whatever works for a student, works for me. Another part of Dr. Park’s question deals with my epidemiological stance, and that is where I think my experience in a variety of teaching settings helps me. I believe the source of my knowledge comes from individual students that I encounter; hence, my statement of always being a first year teacher. Because of this epistemology, I don’t prepare power points and handouts for my students each semester; I have to wait until I meet them and get to know them before I can teach them. To prepare all my materials before I meet them, to me, is too much like a top-down model; I prefer a more mutual approach. So, epistemologically speaking, every year is my first year of teaching even after almost 20 years.

Students learn in spite of teachers. They learn, better in some cases, from each other in academic and social settings. This is not to say that I am not trying to teach my students and that I’m just letting them learn whatever strikes their fancy. No, on the contrary, I have to work diligently to provide opportunities for students to socially construct knowledge. The greatest successes I’ve noticed in my career have occurred when students collaborate and inquire about their own needs in learning.

I would like to study how students naturally from communities of practice. Then I would like to investigate how those communities and upbringing construct a habitus for a first-year college student. Finally, and I guess the overarching research question is: How does the habitus of students from rural southern communities affect the retention rates of a local university? There…I said it!!!  

My next entry will be my thoughts on the heuristic model given to me by Dr. Pamela Takayoshi..


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Hello world!

Well, I don’t know if this will stick this time but I’m gonna try to be a blogger. Maybe I’ll do what Jack does and just write ideas down here. But then there’s the privacy issue…what if somebody steals one of my fantastic ideas.

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