Tag Archives: Composition Studies: Research and Methods

Methodologies (Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis & Grounded Theory)

We are at almost at the finish line folks! We are coming to an end of Composition Studies: Research & Methodologies Spring 2020 semester! With all the different types of methods of writing research, three qualitative approaches have shown useful in health research: phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory.

Within this article, the authors were able to take the differences and similarities with close attention to their own historical development, goals, methods, audiences, and products. They will also be able to illustrate how these approaches can differ when applying them to the same data set.

As they are studying their goals, the authors also argue that by familiarizing themselves with details and the origins of these three approaches, they will be able to make better matches with their research question or questions and the goals they might have for the research topic.

Discourse Moves

As the development of technology continues to progress apace, educational institutions are increasingly adopting online contexts for teaching and learning asserted, learners in today’s technology-saturated world need to develop strategies and skills to undertake new literacy activities in which technologies and the Internet play a crucial role.”

page 2

This article was assigned at a period of time in our lives. I’ve always found it interesting how assignments have been assigned to us in months advance, but somehow the world changes around us based on the given assignment. In this unfortunate case, COVID-19 happened, which has resulting in many of my classmates to sit behind our computer screens in the comfort of our own homes. Also, we are suspected to change our whole approach to learning overnight.

I find it completly ironic how we, the I find it completely ironic how we, the generation of technology and social media don’t receive the full experience of virtual learning then we would in the classroom. This is the result of being a millennial–someone born between 1980 until 1997. We were around when technology was born, however, we still enjoyed being outside, being home “when the street lights came on”, and actually have face to face conversations.

By having virtual learning, it limits the ability of the full learning experience then someone would in a classroom setting. I don’t speak for everyone, but for myself, I strongly prefer to have classes in person where I’ll be able to absorb my classmates’ responses and my professors’ lessons. 

Literacy Networks for ESL/EFL

The English language is a universal language with many people around the world and should be taught in schools if students are interested in working professionally where they will need to communicate in English.  However, I am not saying to lose one’s cultural identity with their own language, but to increases opportunities, they strive for.

Having these ESL/EFL students’ ability to use these platforms to learn literacy is extremely important. We are now in a digital age, where everything is online, including business, education and all forms of communication. Being able to communicate one language is an easier way to share important information around the world. 

Research Proposal Evaluation

Despite the fact that I’m in my second semester of graduate school, I have never written a research proposal before. I felt embarrassed that I would be the only one in my class who has never written one before, but it turns out that most of my fellow colleagues haven’t either.

With most of my assignments, I find that it’s difficult for me to start and finish any paper or assignment. With writing my research proposal first draft I was unsure how to start it. I looked online for outlines and references, but there were so many different formats that it became overwhelming.

Dr. Nelson, later on, that week emailed us a detailed outline that I used as a guideline to help me tackle the first draft of my proposal. I was very nervous submitting my draft to Dr. Nelson because I was unsure if I was heading in the right direction or not. However, it seems that I did much better than I gave myself credit for.

Email from Dr. Nelson responding to my first draft of my research proposal

After receiving these revisions, I feel as if I will be struggling with the literature review section since I was unclear what exactly it was before starting this assignment.

Ways I Will Tackle the Literature Review

  • Research more articles that will best fit my topic
  • Cross-examine all information gathered from articles that will benefit my proposal
  • Outline mini essay-like responses on how the information will benefit my research

Phenomenology in Freewriting

With every new method, there comes my confusion and turning to YouTube for just a basic introduction to the method in question. Please enjoy the following video introducing Phenomenology.

I must admit to myself and to others that freewriting may be what I care about most in writing and teaching writing. I learn the most from it. I get my best ideas and writing from it.”

Peter Elbow, Toward a Phemenology of Freewriting

Freewriting is something that most teachers should practice with their own students, it helps exercise the creative juices and allows the student to explore creatively by giving them the chance to express themselves in any formal and informal situation. 

At the beginning of the article, Peter Elbow explains how freewriting has helped him overcome serious personal situations that would “help [him] diminish the pain” (43). Like myself, Elbow kept a diary and/or type at the keyboard to get everything and anything out that would be weighing on our shoulders. 

I remember sometimes sitting on the floor-I’m not sure why, but probably as a kind of bodily acting out of my sense of desperation. I could type fast and I learned that I could just let myself flow into words with a kind of intensity. When I felt myself shouting I used all caps. This process seemed to help more than anything else, and in this way I drifted into what I now take as the experiential germ of freewriting.”

Peter Elbow, Toward a Phemenology of Freewriting

Elbow didn’t understand at the time he was into his freewriting was any kind of conscious methodology. He continues to explore and express himself within his own freewriting and,

Often finds it easier to freewrite productively when I’m alone or in someone else’s class or workshop and can concentrate on my own work and not worry about people I’m responsible for. When I’m feeling nervous about being in charge, I sometimes cannot enter into my words or even very much into my mind.”

Peter Elbow, Toward a Phemenology of Freewriting

Elbow touches on a subject that many can relate too; the idea of liking our own
writing and/or our students’ writing. He expresses how students should do a lot of private writing and share their work with each other. By doing so, they will be opening their creative minds to their own peers and they will be introduced to an idea or thought they never thought possible.

Also, they can receive the praise they need to increase their confidence in their own writing.
Likewise, Elbow points out that if we can like our writing as well, this will benefit us as
educators with our students’ writing.


The knowing self is always connected to the known.”

Grant & Zeeman

Autoethnography is a form of qualitative research in which an author uses self-reflection and writing to explore their own personal experiences which sometimes reseults in an autobiographical story that will eventually have a deeper meaning and understandings. Autoethnography can also be used across various disciplines within the humanities.

The video below will give you an example of a young girls Autoethnography, The Words.

I found these articles very eye opening. I’m someone who enjoys bringing my own experiences into my work in hopes to help someone who might be experiencing the same situation I went through.

Also, when writers conduct reserach for their work, they tend on reserach everything or anything besides their own self. I found that this is a wonderful method in writing to dig deeper within yourself to find who you are as a person, writer, etc.

Write about their refluxive biographical engagment with culture, since they are, by defintion, experts by experience.”

Grant & Zeeman

Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is a qualitative approach to the analysis of the written language and linguistics. There are various objects of discourse analysis: writing, conversation, and communicative events. Besides exploring traditional linguistics, discourse analysis studies beyond the sentence and analyze language naturally.

Throughout the years, discourse analysis has been studied in various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, such as linguistics, education, sociology, anthropology, social work, cognitive psychology, social psychology, human geography, environmental science, communication studies and much more.

In the seventies, Michel Foucault became one of the main theorists behind discourse analysis. He explains how the term ‘discourse’ itself no longer refers to traditional linguistic aspects, but patterns of knowledge that manifest into disciplinary structures that becomes the connection of knowledge and power. Throughout the years or his studies and research, Foucault’s work has increased its impact especially on discourse analysis within the social sciences.

Discourse analysis is a way for you as the researcher to develop your own findings when studying a language. By using the discourse method you’re expanding your research by taking the extra step and ‘thinking outside the box’. Nives Miciaccio mentions in her blog post about the different advantages she sees while using discourse analysis and I found them extremely helpful:

“Here are some of the advantages I see:

  1. It enhances the understanding of certain cultural practices in the community.
  2. Gives the explanation behind some of the social behaviors in the community.
  3. Reveals the unspoken and unacknowledged aspects of human behavior.
  4. Promotes positive individual and social change by demystifying the function of language.
  5. Facilitated the spread of multilingualism across the world.
  6. Enhanced improvements in human resource management by acting as a qualitative method of data collection and analysis.
  7. Improved the communication process between individuals by critically examining the difference between text and talk.
  8. Discourse analysis is content-specific, therefore, important in explaining the dynamism observed in society.”

By utilizing these advantages, you’ll be able to conduct the research you need when using discourse analysis. 

Building Blocks & Learning

In Building Block and Learning by Dr. Charles Nelson, he discusses the pedagogy of writing in classrooms “need to promote interactions and the flow of knowledge among students and other” (49). By doing so, teachers of beginner writing composition classes need to reconfigure the building blocks of this discipline. In Nelson’s case study, he noticed how “the reproduction and recombination of building blocks were enhanced […] this allowed students to reflect on their learning by connecting it to their previous and present practices (50). Likewise, Nelson focuses on international students in an ESL setting and studied how they absorbed writing composition classes. In Nelson’s results, he found that teachers need to focus on the curriculum’s building blocks and create a direction that best suits L1 and L2 students.

I was very excited to read this article because this was Dr. Nelson’s first published journal article and he’s sharing it with his class to gain more knowledge about our field of study. This shows how confident Dr. Nelson is with his own work knowing his brilliant mind will ‘rub’ off on my fellow colleagues and I in hopes we will be successful in whatever career path of our chosen.

While reading this paper by Dr. Nelson, I quickly referred back to two courses I took last semester, Writing Theory & Practice taught by Dr. Mia Zamora and World Englishes by Dr. Ruth Griffith. Both of these classes are main points that were combined together and placed in this a thoroughly thought out paper.

I really enjoy it when a curriculum is based around the students and there needs. I understand teachers or professors need to meet certain criteria for their departments, but they need to be listening to the students first and foremost. Each child learns at their own pace and is also coming from numerous backgrounds, including cultural, social and educational. As their teacher, professor, educator and mentor, we need to be able to customize our teaching skills around every single one of them to make sure the younger generations become more successful than us and will end up changing the world.

In World Englishes, we learned about English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Langa Franca (ELF). There was one response we had to do for homework that discussed the English language in the classroom.

The question was: If you are or have been a learner of English as a second language or a native or non-native teacher of English to second language learner, to what extent does/did your experience resonate with the comments made above by Kirkpatrick and Nayar?

My response was: ‘This past summer, I was an online tutor for students around the world. I was responsible for teaching them English, but also English Literature. During the application process, I noticed that didn’t ask for any type of credentials towards teaching, all they worried about is if I was fluent in English. With that being said, I agree with Kirkpatrick’s comments about overseas schools; all they care about is if you are a native English speaker. This truly bothered me the entire time because I felt is if I was being used just because of the language I spoke and not for the experience I have worked so hard for these past many years.’

By forming these building blocks, you’re allowing creativity and new ideas to expand. Also, by doing so, you’ll be adapting to the current generation’s strengths in current technology. Unlike the past, our educational system is evolving quickly and as scholars, we need to enhance the pedagogy of writing through a futuristic generation eye. 

Work Sited

Nelson, Charles. “Building Blocks and Learning.” Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education 1.1 (2004): 39-55.

Grounded Theory in Writing Assignments

A grounded theory approach is one way to work against this feeling of being cut off from writing assessment. We feel that grounded theory is promising not just for the writing assessment conducted by compositionists but also for writing assessment across the curriculum.”

Using Grounded Theory in Writing Assessment (72)

The grounded theory approach is studied on writing assignments in a sociology department that will help writing specialists across all disciplines better assist those who might have a difficult time with their writing assignments. Grounded theory is about discovery and is characterized into four primary criteria:

  1. Fit (determined by how closely the concepts relate to the incident being analyzed)
  2. Relevance (focuses on the importance that all involved are interested in the conclusions)
  3. Workability (the ability to explain and use the findings through variations, which in the context of writing assessment involves developing categories and themes that apply to all levels of writing)
  4. Modifiability (the constant evaluation of the findings, including reevaluating the rubric)

When it comes to writing assessments, grounded theory helps develop rubrics for assessments to make sure the ideas are consistent and help identify any new ideas and issues that might arise.

Grounded theory seems to take on a new approach when assessing student’s writing materials. Well using quantitative data to create a new theory to help better assist researchers with their work.

For example, instead of using an already planned syllabus with the basic material that’s going to be covered; why not base the syllabus on your students needs and what needs to be improved within their own writing?

Continual evaluation of the data and ultimately the assessment process is important in grounded theory as it helps to inform the analysis and keep the data focused on the relevant and important concepts and ideas. Evaluating which areas were needed to focus on when assessing helped to direct the assessment process for faculty to make sure they were focused on similar ideas that are commonly assessed in writing.”

Using Grounded Theory in Writing Assessments (82)

It’s extremely important to establish that foundation with your students while conducting any sort of writing assessment in any academic discipline because you want to be able to have a positive outcome with their work and make sure they understand the material given.

Linear Writing versus Hypertext Writing

Effects of Hypertext Writing and Observational Learning is an experimental approach that discusses two questionable problems young adolescent writers face. The first “major” problem these young writers face is the inability of knowledge to properly paraphrase paragraphs. The second “major” problem is the lack of linguistic means; in other words, editing and making revisions. After introducing these two problems to the reader, the authors dive into their experiment with evidence from other researchers on how hypertext writing will benefit this generation of young writers.

Instead of relying on this article to answer the multiple questions I had while attempting to comprehend this intense experimental article, unfortunately I had to retrieve my answers from another article that was thoroughly organized and answered the questions I was searching for. After reading this research, it was still unclear what exactly the study entailed and there were also a few terms that the authors did not define, which also made this read a little more difficult to understand.

According to Kimberly Amaral, “hypertext is simply a non-linear way of presenting information rather than reading or learning about things in the order that are set out for us. Readers of hypertext may follow their own path, create their own order– their own meaning out the material [..] this is accomplished by creating ‘links’ between information. These links are provided so that readers may ‘jump’ to further information about a specific topic being discussed.” After reading this definition I was able to have a more clear understanding of the original article presented.

Braaksma, Rijlaarsdam, & van den Bergh were trying to explain how current writing students in a secondary education level are having trouble with previous writing tools concepts that older generations have used for years. They feel as since this generation of writers are more technology enhance, the way they learn in a classroom should reflect in their instruction. Being a young writer of both generations, I find that it is extremely important to incorporate tools and skills that are being discussed and are ‘hip’ in this day in age.

Assisting in private tutoring in writing and other English disciplines, I find that my students need to build that fundamental skill of “old school” writing–the five paragrpah essay. With the basic knowledge they encounter when practicing these important foundations in writing, they will be able to expand their content knowledge, self-efficacy and text quality in other forms of writing including hypertext writing.

In a society where more than half of its audience is online, it is smart to have resources and materials available for them to access with the swipe of a finger. By having students learn through hypertext, you give them the opportunity to learn at their own rate, explore the world further that will eventually enrich their content knowledge and to grow their creativity with the numerous possibilities of how to present their work (263).

Looking past the flaws throughout this experimental article, I agree with Braaksma, Rijlaarsdam, and van den Bergh when it comes to teaching adolescent writers the advantages of hypertext writing. In the long run, this will help them succeed in their future writing assistments and expand their creative minds. Being a teacher is expressing our passion and knowledge with students. Why not give them the opportunity to express their passion and knowledge involving hypertext to the next generation of digital writers.

Work Cited

Amaral, Kimberly. “Hypertext and Writing: An Overview of the Hypertext Medium.” Hypertext

and Writing, Dartmouth.

Audioversity. “What Is Hypertext? Explain Hypertext, Define Hypertext, Meaning of 

Hypertext.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Oct. 2018.

Braaksma, M, Rijlaarsdam, G., & van den Bergh, H. Effects of hypertext writing 

and observational learning on content knowledge acquisition, self-efficacy, and text quality: Two experimental studies exploring aptitude treatment interactions. Journal of Writing Research 9.3 (2018): 259-300