Rhetoric & Writing at BGSU
Rhetoric & Writing Notes - Fall 2006
Robin Murphy and Eric Stalions are working on dissertations this year will the support of Non-Service Fellowships. Read below for progress reports they wrote.
I started writing my dissertation, “Post-9/11 Rhetorical Theory: A 21st Century Composition Pedagogy,” in January. My interest in this dissertation idea came from the rhetoric(s) that the 9/11 tragedy produced in popular culture, and my initial conception of Post-9/11 Rhetorical Theory was to categorize and analyze that rhetoric. I quickly found that for such an analysis to be grounded in theory and pedagogy, I would have to develop a theory and place said theory/pedagogy within a historical and theoretical framework of both rhetoric and composition. As a result, I developed the theory by grounding it in Critical Pedagogy, Culture Studies Pedagogy, and Post-Process Pedagogy. Through this triangulation, it provides an opportunity for instructors to foster student voice and encourage them to address civic, social, and ideological issues.
I base my research structure on the following questions:
• How should a Post-9/11 composition theory intersect with Rhetorical Education and Modern Composition Pedagogy?
• How do the historic artifacts of 9/11 and Post-9/11 signify a feasible ‘contact zone’ for critical cultural discourse?
• How is the theory categorized, assessed, and implicated in writing pedagogy?
The resulting composition pedagogy provides students with the basis to critically examine and produce alternative compositions using their own sense of rhetorical space via the context of a Post-9/11 society. Post-9/11 Rhetorical Theory and Composition Pedagogy, consequently, incorporate the true intentions of the composition community – rhetorical tradition, critical thinking, and production of text.
My Chapters One-Three have been approved, and I’m currently drafting Chapter Four and hope to have it ready for Chair approval in mid-November. It was an important goal for me to have a nice chunk of my dissertation done for the job interview process. I’m on schedule to finish my last chapter in March, so my next goal is to defend in the late Spring and bask in my Phd-ness most of the summer.
I think my biggest success is that I really feel like I know what each draft’s inconsistencies and weaknesses are before I send it off to my Chair. So, to work autonomously but also have my work and my concerns about it reinforced through my Chair’s and Committee’s comments is great. Since I am more confident in my ability to evaluate writing levels beyond undergraduate writing, my self-confidence has increased when it comes to preparing for interviewing for positions that require teaching upper level writing and research.
All of this positive reaction doesn’t mean I haven’t had frustration. Though I have been lucky in that I have a supportive and responsive Chair, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself why I’m writing a dissertation or why I pursued a doctorate. The truth is that writing a dissertation is hard, as it should be. Sometimes I feel like a first time writer and wonder how I’m going to fill one page much less dozens. Time is another frustration. I can’t seem to find enough time to read everything I want to read, write everyday, clean my house, and prepare job applications. And, if I have to explain one more time what I’m writing about or when I’ll be done to a family member, I may smash my laptop over my head.
The positive outweighs the negative most days. And, I keep telling myself I can finish…paragraph by paragraph.
My dissertation study, "Dynamic Criteria Mapping: A Study of the Rhetorical Values of Placement Evaluators," adapts Bob Broad's (2003) Dynamic Criteria Mapping (DCM) research model in What We Really Value: Beyond Rubrics in Teaching and Assessing Writing. The DCM research model identifies, defines, and maps the rhetorical values that educators "articulate" during acts of assessment. Using the DCM research model, I analyze the rhetorical values that guided the 2006 General Studies Writing (GSW) Placement Program's evaluators in placing students into one of the first-year writing courses, and I provide a focused validation argument with respect to the placement program's evaluative practices. My dissertation's claim is that DCM can be adapted in the GSW placement model, which employs a communal, collaborative, context-specific, rhetorical, evaluative assessment process.
My DCM study had two parts--a pilot and principal study. I have analyzed my pilot study data collected during the Spring 2006 Semester, and I am finishing the analysis of my principal study data collected during the Summer 2006 Semester. During the Spring 2006 semester, I undertook a pilot study in order to adapt the DCM research model for my principal study. For the pilot study, I interviewed former GSW placement evaluators and administrators and the designers of the 2006 GSW online writing placement test. Based upon the pilot study outcomes, I employed DCM as a tool for a focused and limited validity inquiry of the 2006 GSW Placement Program's evaluative practices. During the principal study, I employed several specific instruments to triangulate my data: questionnaires, videotaped placement training sessions, audio taped evaluation sessions, interviews, and program documents. I use "constructivist" grounded theory methodology and qualitative coding software to code and triangulate my data. My dissertation provides qualitative exemplars and quantitative codebooks and maps the rhetorical values of the 2006 GSW Placement Evaluators.
The introductory chapter of my dissertation has been approved by Richard Gebhardt, my Dissertation Chair, and the full committee.
According to my approved writing timeline, I will complete "Chapter Two: Theoretical Rationale for the DCM Research Model" and "Chapter Three: Overview of the Study" during the Fall 2006 semester and "Chapter Four: Study Findings and Analysis" and "Chapter Five: Conclusion and Theoretical and Pedagogical Applications of Study" during the Spring 2007 semester. As a result, I anticipate a May 2007 defense to be followed by an August commencement.
Concerning my publishing agenda, I am currently collaborating with Broad and several colleagues on a co-authored book concerning local DCM applications. I will also be presenting in the workshop "Dynamic Criteria Mapping in Action: Growing Evaluative Community Locally and Organically" with Broad and our colleagues at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in New York, NY, in 2007