A New Class and a New Blog Post

Hi. My name is Serkan Tiker and I would like to admit that I know nothing about academic research…

I guess that’s one way to approach learning. The first step into recovery is admitting that you have a problem. I’m now ready to learn the real deal. Well, the joking aside, I did find the article, Liminal Spaces and Research Identity by James P. Purdy and Joyce R. Walker, quite interesting. Although… since we’re talking about admitting things, I should probably admit at this point that I have not read the whole article. Sadly, this one is not a joke.

Throughout my undergraduate years, I have read so many research articles that were in similar vein with this one, very formal and educational, that I seem to have lost the youthful energy for them. If an article is any longer than 15 pages, I unintentionally lose interest and stop reading it. Although they all offer intriguing theories and important things in education to ponder upon, I do tend to find them a tad bit tedious to get through (and I mean no offense). Still, there were a few interesting things I got out of the first ten pages.

The article mentions the potential problem of using, or rather being tied to, textbooks. It claims that textbooks “aim to regulate how teachers present academic research” because “instructors [are] not trusted to develop their own lesson plans or grading criteria”. I had heard this argument before; many times in fact. Unless the curriculum absolutely demands it, being “slave” to the textbook is never encouraged. A textbook, regardless of its purpose, should only be considered a guide and be resorted to if necessary. A methodical approach to a methodical form of study could only increase its tedium; something that instructors should avoid at all cost. I agree with the article about incorporating additional materials such as “handbooks, library websites, and online research resources” for a more active learning process. Plus, it adds variety into the classroom routine.

In our last class, we looked at some new terms relating to research topic. A few of these terms were pretty new to me. Well, they were all new to me actually since I could not remember the definition of the ones that I thought I knew. This particular article introduces a few more interesting ones, such as “liminal space”. I did a quick google search online to get the full definition and the top choice was the following: “liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next’”. It sounds like an appealing and a very academic word phrase, which I’m sure I’ll be using from now on. Another term (though not a new one but rather interesting choice of one) was “pollute”, as in “polluting the research”. The internet is offered as an example because it “provide[s] an overwhelming flood of sources, many of them of questionable legitimacy”, which I tend to agree with. There are many websites full of articles with no proof of proper research. I only trust Wikipedia.com; a website that allows… anybody to edit it at free will (Hmm…).

The final thing I’d like to mention is the treatment of undergraduates that the article touches upon. It claims that undergraduate students are seen as “merely research paper writers” and that is an incorrect generalization. Instead, they should be seen as and be allowed to become real researchers. I’m a bit conflicted with this notion. Although it sounds very encouraging at first, the potential of falling short of expectations is indeed a possibility in that scenario. Especially, if the students are told flat out that they will be treated as such; it’d create unnecessary pressure that could diverge the focus of research. I personally would’ve felt that pressure in that case. Then again, perhaps we could look at it as a case-by-case situation. There are indeed certain students (some I’ve personally met as a teacher) that possess the aptitude of a professional researcher, and perhaps they should be treated as such for motivational reasons. I need to do or be exposed to more studies on this particular topic for a solid agreement/disagreement. Maybe a further study is already in the article and I haven’t read it? We’ll see.

I think… I’ve just realized that this blog post falls a little too on the negative side. I hope James P. Purdy and Joyce R. Walker do not accidentally stumble upon and care to read this post. When I feel less restricted in terms of time, and encouraged to do so, I promise to finish reading the article because it’s actually interesting. My personal background serves as a hindrance, I guess. It’s not you (article)… it’s me.

 

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Purdy, J.P. and Walker, J. R. 2013. Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers. California State University.

Website source (article does not contain author name or publishing date for citation): https://inaliminalspace.org/about-us/what-is-a-liminal-space/