Category Archives: Student Blogs

Genre Features – Qualitative Research

Hey all,

From what I gathered while reading, Understanding The Genre Features of Qualitative Research: A Case Study by Guo, Y-H, is that this case study has a very meta-component to it, in which the case study follows and documents the process of Lin – a Taiwanese graduate student majoring in English Education – and his progression into a qualitative research community (119). Essentially, this is a qualitative case study being done on a novice research student conducting and compiling qualitative field work data to understand how his limited interpretative writing skills paired with the lowly formulaic style of qualitative data retrieval, will impact his research journey and thesis formation attempts (Guo, 115). A qualitative research study, studying another qualitative research study – OoOo, cool, yo!

Anyway, the design of this case study can easily appeal to and initiate a research learning curve for both students and professors regarding the importance of teaching and conducting qualitative research as a genre. If novice researchers were pushed by their research professors or advisors to steer away from relying on model-imitation techniques of academic research writing, and rather encourage them to study their own naturalistic writing processes – whether it be academic, creative, free-writing, or drafting – they would essentially be practicing and refining their interpretative writing skills on a more simpler level, which differs from that of research-related skills like decoding, or categorizing. Likewise, Guo even asserts that, “[. . .] in transforming naturalistic data into words, the students are actually engaged in the process of writing. Studying their research processes means to study their writing processes” (115).

This way, graduate students can learn how to effectively transform naturalistic data into comprehensible categories of words and meaning in relation to their qualitative inquiry research question(s). Especially, since the qualitative data collection and thesis proposal process entirely revolves around the process of writing and reflecting; otherwise, referred to as interpretive writing skills (Guo 115).

We’ve discovered that qualitative research involves self-centered reflection, as to clear the mind for meaningful, and purposefully driven inquiry questions that drive an effective thesis proposal. We’ve also discussed how research involves interpretive writing skills, which seem to be left out of the curriculum in favor of quantitative research (Guo 122). However, the beginning-inquiry stage of the qualitative research process is seldomly discussed in terms of its genre features and preferred writing styles; thus, leaving students stuck in doubt about their chosen research topic and process (qualitative), which is supposed to feel “freer” than that of the quantitative data collection process. Lin even struggled to find purposeful and meaningful inquiry at the very beginning, He did not know what to investigate specifically and did not follow traditional research procedure by starting from the review of literature” (Guo 118). 

Sometimes, though, too much freedom becomes overwhelming, especially if there is no academic support or training on the complexities of qualitative research as a writing genre. Although Lin chose to conduct his qualitative research through a top-down approach, I don’t think he was ever really taught on how to effectively manage and observe the continual streaming flow of gathering on-site data (Guo 118). Ultimately, I think – after reading about the outside contextual forces – that the qualitative research disconnect is rooted solely on researcher preferences, which in turn, impacts what university students learn; or perhaps, even the fear of getting lost in the written and verbal data observations; or maybe, the avoidance is due to student-homework laziness or an unwillingness to commit through the frustration of interpreting the data and carrying on with it until the end. This is unfortunate in terms of academia and the infinite knowledgeable truths awaiting to be researched and discovered.

I also wonder how professors expect college students to follow through with the multifaceted nature of qualitative research if they: 1) HAVE NOT considered their students’ preexisting knowledge on research implementation; 2) NEVER provide opportunities to learn about qualitative research as a genre, and do not offer enough classroom time to practice writing the qualitative conventional surface features; and 3) DO NOT discuss the recursive, circular nature of qualitative data, and how to avoid becoming overly frustrated.

 This lack of education on the qualitative research process makes it appear more intimidating for college students; therefore, it makes sense to why most of the students chose the quantitative approach (Guo 120). University research institutes and English departments can help to combat the prejudiced attitudes from some science research communities by embedding more qualitative curricular activities or assignments that would be thoroughly guided, step-by-step with the help of the processors’ in-depth explanations. Considering Lin’s Eastern Asian origins and Taiwanese ethnic-identity, I can image that he had to face immense resistance or confront faces of confusion from his classmates, who all chose the easy route in terms of data collection – conducting quantitative research because the data happens to seem more tangible and digestible. So, I applaud Lin for volunteering to be qualitatively observed and analyzed on conducting a form of research that he knows so little about. Go, Lin!!!

 Particularly, because this case study delves deep into Lin’s qualitative writing challenges, and his interactions with his academic advisor and other professors throughout his research endeavors. We are given insight on Lin’s personal struggles conducting, gathering fieldwork data, and writing and editing his data analysis procedure section – over, and over, again. As a graduate student, I felt for Lin and became overly frustrated for him considering there was little-to-no emphasis on the practice and importance of qualitative research (as a genre in inquiry and writing), lack of instruction on academic discourse diversity and “the conventional surface features of thesis writing” (Guo, 122). 

That’s all for this week ~~ I hope whatever I wrote made sense because I did this blog post and skimmed through the reading with a 100-degree fever ~~ woot, woot!!!

Life do be like that sometimes ~~ what ya gonnna do, tho ~~

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 

Evolution of Love

A Sonnet Crown on Life’s Evolving Story

Married couple sitting on bench.

In the book of life a story weaves,

a love story unfolds with each passing day

in tender moments hearts find their reprieve,

as life’s current carry us on our way. 

On our way, we journey through the years,

through highs and lows, through laughter and tears,

in each chapter, joy and sorrow nears, 

as life’s unfolding tale becomes more clear.

It becomes more clear with every twist and turn,

The plot thickens, the characters evolve, 

in every triumph, in every lesson that was learned, 

we find the essence of the human resolve.

Human resolve to love and to forgive, 

to embrace each moment and to truly live.

Autoethnography: Round 2, Baby ~

Hey, again, guys, ~~

I wasn’t sure if I had to write a blog post for this week considering it was my presentation week; however, there were two readings on Autoethnography. So, here we go ~~

In light of Val’s assigned autoethnography reading, “An Autoethnography on Learning About Autoethnography” by Sarah Walls, I happened to notice a phrase, or specific words in particular, that struck me differently from my first read over. I read this reading again after reading the many insightful, in-depth class blog posts.

Specifically, I’d like to draw attention toward Rachel & Ricki’s blog posts as they did so well explaining, in their own words, the criticism or opposing force against autoethnography as a valid research method of inquiry. So, there I was, reading Wall’s viewpoint again, and found myself, once again nodding in agreement to everything she had said and stopped when I happened to skim over this phrase, in which I cut from its full-length quote, “[. . .] researcher’s rhetoric, prejudice, and experience in interpretation of observations [. . .]” (Wall, 147). I’ve read over those words before regarding autoethnography and was confused to why I had stopped reading further for a moment.

The irony is that this phrase I pulled and cut came from a quote in support of autoethnography as a valid method of research inquiry and academic writing (in which, I do still agree with BTW). However, after reading how Ricki and Rachel felt toward autoethnography, I perceived it differently than before. Or better said, I came to really understand the so-called dangers of just using autoethnography as a research method of inquiry by its lonesome. Ricki said it best – I quote, “I am still not the biggest fan because I just don’t trust other’s judgement,” and he continues by then saying, “[. . .] I cannot imagine an autoethnography being the sole method. It would have to be paired with something else.” I completely understand the mistrust in others and found the mixed-methods type of approach toward autoethnography a brilliant way to liven the data that comes from biographical narratives.

I had first sided only with the rise of postmodernism and the freedom autoethnography brings into the research community, particularly academic writing. We are studying a Humanities discipline, after all (Writing Studies), I thought to myself. I then thought, wouldn’t it be wrong of me to agree with all the insightful criticism of a newly developed research that’s essentially in favor of a more humanistic approach to academic writing?

But the truth is, is that we are all human, and with that comes many flaws and thick layers of deception (Rachel used this word in her blog post, and it struck me). The mind is so complex that we even deceive ourselves – more so than not, until the delusions must be dimmed and managed by medication. In NO WAY or manner am I implying that to be mentally ill equates to unreliability. Everyone has a story, in which some parts can be trusted and some not. If I were claiming so, then everything I say or write could be considered a misguided delusional thought. But I’d be lying if not to admit how jaded memories can really be, and to the very danger in solely believing what it is your mind tells you.

So, my eyes have now been mindfully opened to appreciate each critical remark opposing the validity of autoethnographic research because I see them now as kind warnings, that would speak: Yes, we are indeed products of our uniquely lived experiences that hold concrete value and meaning in this world, some powerful enough to exact change. Although please be aware of the mind and all the deceiving creases it entails.

With all being said, I’m very impressed by this week blog postings. I feel like I needed to rehear (or reread) the opposing remarks from a fellow classmate – rather than a researcher, philosopher, or autoethnographer – to be reminded about the dangers of fully and whole-heartedly trusting the subjectivity of memories.

Thank you, guys !! ❤ lol

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 

~ Autoethnography ~

Hey guys, ~~

‘Tis my week to present. I’d like to give a warning regarding my presentation and reaction paper: some deep, personal stuff will be mentioned as I was challenged to find my cultural identity between the lines of Alec’s biographical narrative. So, be aware, ya’ll ~~ there are no secrets here. I’m unfortunately an open book.

The Autoethnographic reading my presentation will be on is, “Whose Story Is It? An Autoethnography Concerning Narrative Identity,” by Alec J. Grant and Laetitia Zeeman.

Anyhow, attached below is my Autoethnography presentation and reaction paper, enjoy! ~~

Presentation Slideshow

Reaction Paper

** I had to use my personal Gmail account because, for some reason, my Kean Gmail account still says, “storage is full.” **

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 

Beloved Sunflower

Sunflower field under blue sky during daytime.

In the fields of gold where summer’s warmth resides 

A sunflower stands proud gazing towards the sun 

Its petals spread wide like golden tides, 

A testament to nature’s art so finely spun.

Oh, sunflower fair in brilliance you gleam, 

A light of joy in the fields of green 

With every gentle sway you dance and dream 

A sight so splendid that you can’t unsee.

Amidst the whispers of the gentle breeze, 

Your beauty flourishes as a sight to admire 

In your radiant presence the soul finds ease 

As you stand tall in nature’s choir.

Oh, how you captivate with every bloom, 

My most favorite flower in sunlight’s room.

HOW TO BE A “GOOD” ACADEMIC RESEARCHER

I had flashbacks of being back in my undergraduate program at Kean, awaiting and consciously avoiding the infamous Research & Technology course while reading Purdy and Walker’s scholarly research, Liminal Spaces and Research Identity: The Construction of Introductory Composition Students as Researchers. Ask any Kean undergraduate student about the required Research and Technology course, and I doubt they will smile and jump gleefully as they tell you all about the course requirements. If anything, they may cry while telling you all about the course (lol).

Honestly, I’m being dramatic. The course really wasn’t all that bad as we took the adequate time in the beginning to develop research questions that had meaning and value to us, and we wrote through and conducted each step of the research process together (we all had our own inquiry question and topic, of course). I conducted research on the prevalence and purpose of visible tattoos on college students at Kean in certain academic majors. I had a newly found liking toward tattoos as a form of self-expression and wanted to know if the stigma associated with professionalism stopped students in getting visible tattoos on their body in hopes to acquire a job related to their major of study.

My Research & Tech class certainly had the feel or vibe of no soldier left behind – if ya know what I mean. We followed the “linear, print-based model of research” through sequential steps and deadlines, so that by the time you blinked you were done with one section and moving forward and on to the next (Purdy and Walker 10). The process was so fast in such little time that there was no time to be anxious about it (which, I guess was nice? lol). Instead, all there was time for was to just go – go – go and do – do – do and get it done- done – done! My professor made the sequential steps seem manageable for an anxious, introductory student and she had warned us to not fall behind – several of times. I was lucky enough to have friends in that class, along with a really cool and dope professor who wanted us to not only like but to feel connected to our chosen research topic.

Purdy and Walker’s scholarly research really had me reflecting back on my experience as a dyslexic and anxious introductory student who knew little of herself, so how in the heckedy-heck would I know how to cultivate my own research identity? (lol) I know now what a research identity is, and the crucial steps taken toward cultivation (Thanks to Purdy & Walker <3). The central claim behind their research is that English Studies teachers should promote a better understanding of the research identities students must cultivate to pass university classes and beyond. Such known and newly developed student-research identities could “help to prepare future, educated civil participants” and provide students with a sense of who they are and why that might be in relation to inquiry research (Purdy and Walker 9).

There was no shock in reading about how the composition handbooks and texts given to introductory students to help learn about scholarly research only emphasize the very things that intimidate us or the very things we don’t know how to do. And, ugh – still no surprise to read about the straightforward, linear assumption of conducting meaningful research and collecting data.

It is absurd to assume that students coming from all over would be willing enough to leave behind their already-formed, pre-determined, complex identities of online researchers to find a new identity in pursuit of writing a hefty research paper. HAHAH – it’s laughable, honestly. Anyway, I felt Purdy and Walker’s research heading toward the direction of opposition against the infamous prescribed pathways of research. Especially after learning how recursive and circular in nature qualitative methods can be when conducting research, as the data usually takes the lead for itself. So, I decided to comment my authentic reaction before reading past page 10.

~~~ Here it goes ~~~

Regarding Susan Miller’s (1991; 51) call for attention on the problematic teaching attitudes and tools that frame introductory students’ as researchers, I instantly thought of and about the lack of scholarly and academic writing and research preparation or proper exposure in and throughout the secondary or high school years. This lack of preparation creates a major disconnect for newly, incoming college students. Especially, considering the many different and unique places – states, county, school districts – the newly accepted students come from. University students come from all over and bring with them differing degrees of knowledge and academic skillsets that are culturally connected to wherever it is they come from. This diversity of multiple distinct academic identities adds an additional layer of complexity onto the professor’s job of building adaptive, flexible research identities from students’ already existing knowledge-identity.

I thought of this issue before reading on because I personally felt the disconnect in the process of reading and conducting scholarly research during the beginning years of my undergraduate experience. However, I was also not the student to take academic risks nor challenge myself in high school like I can do now. I was down deep in the belief that dyslexia had made me forever dumb. So, I brought with me to Kean this unproven, fictional narrative that I’m incapable of anything scholarly, or incapable of anything academically challenging.

So, please – imagine my fright when I heard about the required Research and Technology course that every academic major had to take at some point. I’m no longer scared of reading or writing academic research papers, but the idea of having to re-conduct, re-engage with, and re-organize research to fit the very ‘identity’ I still know very little about seems . . . well. . . not cute. Lastly, I’d like to pay my respects to Purdy & Walker for firmly believing in instructional methods that act as a threshold for introductory students “to unite oneself with a new world” because I sure as h*ll didn’t feel united.

Xoxo,

Francesca Di Fabio 

Airport Goodbye

Imitation to “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

Airplane on runway getting ready for takeoff

        

Two under Departure’s Terminal.

        We share sighs. We

        Misty eyes. We

        Clasp hands. We

        Heartlands. We

        Kiss soft. We

        Moments aloft. We

        Board planes. We

        Heart pains. We

        Let go.

Let’s Talk Research:

We back, again –

My first impression of the research process is that it’s not cute – at all (lol). To research is to be curious. To be curious is to accept failure, or the very idea that your attempted, self-centered, intrinsic-driven, problem-question could be misguided, which of course, inevitably leads to revising your initial research question, and reframing your hypothesis just to hope the variables won’t be wrongfully manipulated, yet again. There is a lot to lose yet so much more to gain throughout the research process.

I said the research process – of being socially, culturally, and self-aware enough to externalize a self-centered research question, and to be nonetheless motivated enough to test your inquiry through the appropriate research method – is not cute because the process of conducting research is so important, hefty, and time-consuming that it becomes extremely intimidating. In fact, I think being aware of the many different types and forms of research and data collection is a useful skill to have to understand academic literature, and to properly prepare for the diverse world of writing and creation. Configuring a research question and choosing a method of implementation is apparently only the beginning ~~

As a perfectionist, I like to get things right the first time around. Perfectionism is a trait of mine – in which I’m not the proudest of – that I’ve been continuously working to dismantle and unravel with my therapist. And to conduct research, is to openly accept failure as a point of reference for redirection, which sounds hopeful yet daunting at the same time. Perhaps, this class will provide me with the patience and perseverance needed to organize, research, create, implement, and analyze. Hopefully, through closely reading and studying the various methods of research and academic writing, I’ll gain insight on how the author’s went about their research process, and how they managed to cope with constant changing variables. Something about sudden unpredictability scares the living hell out of me.

Considering the many different research methods discussed in Martin Gunnell’s LinkedIn article post, I have found the mixed methods to be most intriguing because if it’s extensive approach toward data collection. I find value in all three of the research methodologies, and their respective ways of thinking and application. Each research method invites unique layers of, or perspectives on humanity and our very function in existence. Quantitative methodsor quantity; how much of – is numeric and objective, with its origins based deeply in the scientific method. Particularly, the quantitative approach uses statistical processes to refine and display emerging patterns from data through survey preparation and testing, validation of the variables, sample identification, and of course, a multitude of other procedures (Gunnell, 2016). What I like most about the quantitative method approach is the straightforwardness of defined steps outlined within the scientific method. Of course, the researcher may have to re-visit past steps, or re-adjust their hypothesis to make more sense of the changing variables or collected data. Ugh, though, because what a fright it would be to wake up one morning, just to find out you have been testing the wrong question or hypothesis the entire time.

No need to worry, because the qualitative method approach “derives the research process from the collected data (Gunnell, 2016).” Thus, making the qualitative research process itself free of rigid rules and procedures. Although I’m a fan of step-by-step directions, I find comfort in the freedom of exploration and discovery experienced throughout the qualitative research method process. The qualitative methods, with its origins in using unstructured processes of data collection to understand human motive, interaction, and behavior, seems to better suit and support my interest as a fictional, creative writer. The interpersonal ambiguity of qualitative research allows for multiple interpretations to exist, and in return, the collected data could help me fabricate future fictional characters around a personally motivated, and well-researched question that could potentially be the overall theme of the short story.

As for the CARS model, designed and directed toward revising introductions, is an organized, proofreading writing guide to assure that all essential parts of a scholarly introduction are appropriately met and addressed. The CARS model seems to uncomplicate the daunting task of starting a hefty research paper. I also find the self-reflective introduction questions for revision useful and would definitely take advantage of asking myself such crucial questions to refine my research proposal.

The process of forming a research question and choosing the best method for data collection is where all the magic of discovery begins. Forming and finalizing an appropriate research question is a separate process that ultimately precedes the research process. Doubt and self-awareness must come before research implementation and deep analysis. I suppose academic researchers love the thrill of chasing knowledge, or the notion of being an active problem-solver or solution-seeker. I certainly applaud their diligence in the matter.

XOXO,

Francesca Di Fabio 🙂

Dominican Flavors

View of a balcony with a Dominican flag hanging from the balcony.

In the heart of the Caribbean where the sun meets the sea, 

Dominican kitchens hum with culinary glee. 

A symphony of flavors, a dance of delight, 

In every dish, stories of tradition take flight.

Plantains, the golden muse, ripe and sweet, 

Transform in the kitchen, a delightful feat. 

Mangu’s warm embrace, a morning’s delight, 

Plantains milk and butter, in a mash so right.

Sofrito sizzles, a fragrant overture, 

Abuelita’s culinary signature. 

Aromas intertwine in the air, 

A dance of spices, a legacy to declare.

Moro de guandules, brown rice and peas unite, 

A savory dance, a family’s delight. 

Meats join the chorus, a symphony so grand, 

On the plate, a taste of the island’s land.

In the heart of each dish, a surprise awaits, 

A hint of adventure, beyond the culinary gates. 

For in Dominican kitchens, where tradition thrives, 

Innovations spark, like stars in the night skies.

Sancocho simmers, a stew mixed of vegetable, roots and love, 

Yucca, plantains, and meats from above. 

A fusion of flavors, in a communal pot, 

Sancocho warms, memories never to be forgot.

And as the pots bubble and the pans clatter, 

Laughter echoes, like music in the chatter. 

For in the rhythm of cooking, joy is heard,

A symphony of sound, in every spoken word.

From the gentle sizzle of sofrito in the pan, 

To the rhythmic chop of vegetables by hand. 

Each sound tells a tale, a story to tell, 

Of love, family, and the meals we dwell.