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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