*sigh* Research, where do I begin with? Where does it end?
The article “Liminal Spaces and Research Identity”, Purdy and Walker analyze the ever-changing rules of research writing and the developing research identity of first year students. While the article generally disagrees with educator’s first move to shed students of “what they once knew” about writing, Purdy and Walker also wrestle with the problem that educators faced with new writers and present skills to help teachers better facilitate an environment for liminal spaces/moments. Following this article is an article explaining the Swales and The CARS Model, which provide steps for conducting research writing in a linear model. In the next research article “The Relative Contribution of L2 Language Proficiency..”, Lee and Schallert tested two hypothesises, which are as followed:
- when predicting L2 reading ability, the students L2 proficiency is greater than L1 reading ability
- and a level of proficiency exists and shows that with low levels of L2 proficiency will show little relationship between their L1 and L2 reading ability; students with higher levels of L2 proficiency will show a positive relationship between their L1 and L2 reading performance.
Their reasoning for this, I imagine, was their attempt to cross the thresholds and allow for students to “cross the threshold”. Bamford and Day published an article of commentary on their research; however, more attention was given to the actual experiment, their method of experimenting rather than the hypothesis. Though I don’t necessarily agree with how the study was conducted, I do see the connection that Lee and Schallert were making in that allowing for students to immerse themselves in a liminal space when writing, they will evolve and produce progressive results. In response, Lee and Schallert wrote back with sharp words about how Bamford and Day completely missed the point of their research.
I must start off by saying that I believe the process has been overcomplicated by too many contributions being made canon. You know what they say: “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Also, steps are useful when teaching someone to do something the first time; however, research is not always linear and not all steps should be followed in one direction. Though I don’t think that students should be left without rules or free range when it comes to research, I do believe that there should be more of a “catch and release” behavior so as to allow students to test the knowledge they’re gaining, even if it is about research.
Purdy and Walker mention in the article that the common belief is that students enter college unprepared to write research papers. I find this claim to be outdated and untrue (for me) as both a former student in grade/high school and a former teacher. Before entering college, I attended private school. We were taught steps on how to write a research paper and I did not struggle with writing one until I entered my first year of college. I can even recall the lesson that scrambled the eggs in my brain that day, which was on creating the bibliography and works cited page. I remember thinking the following:
- So I can’t use Google anymore?
- But how would they really know I used Google?
I always wondered why Google was so taboo when conducting research, even as a teacher. In Purdy and Walker’s article, they write “ Murray presents the computer itself as a liminal object further supports why students’ online research activities are sometimes viewed with suspicion: they are not quite real, at least in the context of the first-year composition classroom.” Authentication of sources is important for research, yes, but the one size fits all approach out of fear of the text not being “real” is interesting, to say the least. The article goes on to say that, “although no one can dispute that the WWW has greatly increased our access to information, it also creates a special set of problems for students who do not (or cannot) distinguish between the credible sources available via the electronic library and the morass of unregulated information on the World Wide Web.” I think the true fear lies in educators not knowing how to teach students to use the web in a credible manner, but I will leave that one right there.