Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education


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In this section we explore what is often referred to as the move away from a structuralist to a post-structuralist theoretical position on language and identity. We will consider the relevance of recent understandings about language and identity to issues of teaching and learning. Language has long been seen as closely connected with identity in a number of distinctive ways.

Traditionally, the language people speak has been connected with their national identity: English, Spanish, Japanese and so on.

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Catalog Record: Literacy and power in Anglo-Saxon literature | HathiTrust Digital Library

Within any one language there are different language varieties which are also connected with particular identities. It is also recognised that children and adults from different social groups bring different kinds of language resources into the classroom and that these influence their identity as a student. Particular uses of language and literacy are highly valued in the classroom and seen as centrally important for learning, and there has been considerable argument about how far the language of children and adults from various ethnic and class communities is different or deficient in relation to competencies required in educational settings Bernstein, ; Labov, ; Michaels, ; Heath, ; Tizard and Hughes, These associations of language use and group identity class, gender, generation, ethnicity remain significant, but a number of important theoretical shifts in the ways in which social scientists conceptualise the role of language in relation to other aspects of social life have had some profound implications for issues of language and identity.

Briefly, there has been what is referred to as a shift from a structuralist approach, which conceives of identity as a relatively fixed set of attributes, to the post-structuralist notion of identity as a more fluid ongoing contested process, with people constructing and reconstructing various aspects of their identity throughout different experiences in their lives. But we use it to incorporate the post-structuralist emphasis on identity as a process rather than any fixed set of social attributes or roles.

The theoretical shift in ways of looking at identity is part of a more general acknowledgement within the social sciences of the importance of the dynamic processes of social life and the role of language within these. For instance, there has been an increasing interest in the way in which people use language collaboratively to accomplish intellectual as well as practical tasks.

In sociocultural theory, which we explored in section 1, cognitive development is seen as socially driven, and knowledge as socially constructed, through the medium of teaching and learning dialogues. As we stressed in section 1, language is both the medium and the message of education. This more social constructionist approach sees knowledge not so much as a body of facts and information but rather as the outcome of particular kinds of social interactions and processes.

It has also been applied to understanding other aspects of social life. So, for instance, social categories like class, gender or ethnicity are increasingly seen not as intrinsic labels of identity residing within the individual, but as experienced by people as a more or less salient aspect of who they are through their experience in different interactions and dialogues, across different contexts.

Alongside an increasing emphasis on the role of language in the ongoing construction of knowledge and identities, there has also been a growing recognition of the ideological nature and functions of language. The meaning of language in any specific interaction is shot through with these social and ideological associations, which are an intrinsic aspect of the immediate and the broader context. An aspect of discourse that we will be focusing on in this section is the ideological dimension.

Furthermore, individual students will be identified, through the ways in which they participate in classroom dialogues as well as through their written work , as particular kinds of students: for example, clever or stupid, good or bad. Similarly, teachers will become defined as good or bad teachers. A final point on the concept of context. Context can be defined in terms of the resources invoked by speakers to make sense of a particular communicative exchange. These resources may include:. In section 3, we shall also include within the notion of context the ways in which these resources invoked by speakers are shaped and given meaning through:.

Of course, from the social constructionist point of view, as noted in section 1, these events, beliefs and values are at least partly constituted through the discourse itself. So, rather than seeing context as a kind of frame surrounding a communicative event, we need to think of a more dynamic relationship between the two. Particular aspects of the context are invoked by conversation participants in their construction of meaning, and language may also invoke other contexts away from the here and now, for example when people tell anecdotes or stories, or teachers ask students to remember what happened in a previous lesson.

The idea that individual and group identity is constantly being negotiated and renegotiated through the minutiae of everyday social interactions has been explored in some detail by the American sociolinguist, Penelope Eckert. Eckert studied the language use of American high school students who called themselves Jocks and Burnouts. These two subcultures were associated with sharply contrasting personal styles.

Jocks participated enthusiastically in extra-curricular activities, played sports, served on the school council and hoped to graduate to college. They took the school as their community and hence the basis of their group identity. In the s, when Eckert did her research, they wore smart designer jeans, the girls used candy coloured make-up and the boys had short hair.

The Burnouts, in contrast, did not participate in school social activities and resisted the corporate identity of the high school and what it stood for. They wore bellbottom jeans, rock concert T-shirts, sweatshirts and auto-plant jackets, and expected to work in local industry when they were older. They were more likely to be out at an all-night party in the town than at the school dance. There were differences, too, in the language styles pitch, pronunciation and grammar used.

Individual identity is constructed in collaboration with others in and around these communities of practice. For Bucholtz, this concept focused too centrally on language and tends to marginalise other aspects of social practice. In arguing that traditional sociolinguistic theory marginalises certain kinds of gender issues, she also illustrated the important point that any body of theory will privilege particular beliefs and values and particular kinds of knowledge, while underplaying, or rendering invisible, others.

Mainstream norms in traditional sociolinguistics have been based on male speakers; she was looking not just at a different social category, women speakers, but at a marginalised group within this. Like Eckert, she used ethnography and argued that through focusing on language, not in isolation but as part of social practice, she could capture something of the complex relationship between broader social structures and individual agency, ideology and identity, norms and interactions. The studies discussed thus far in section 3 have begun to build up a picture of the ways in which individual and group identity are both expressed and also constructed through dialogue.

In this sense, then, identity is not fixed and unitary. Different kinds of identities may be tried out, and negotiated, in different contexts, within different discourse communities and communities of practice. There is also often a sense of struggle, as people try to create a sense of themselves against dominant forms and institutional expectations. In this part we look at research which draws on the ideas of the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin and his associates in what has been called the Bakhtin circle, who conceptualise language itself as a site of struggle.

Bakhtinian ideas have made a key contribution to post-structuralist notions of discourse, and its relationship with identity. First, Bakhtin sees language as involving a constant, dynamic tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces. Centripetal forces produce authoritative discourses which are relatively fixed and inflexible in meaning, for example established bodies of knowledge and religious orthodoxies.

These forces, however, are always interpenetrated by centrifugal forces leading to the diversification of language, and the fragmentation of cultural and political institutions. Finding a voice implies taking up a particular ideological position within the struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces.

In school, this struggle is often played out between the centripetal forces of the school institutional authority and the official curriculum, and the centrifugal forces of personal and community experience and the day-to-day concerns of the students. Sola and Bennett , in their study of Puerto Rican students on a junior high school programme in East Harlem, found that the students struggled between the centripetal instructional school discourse with its fixed curriculum goals and knowledge, and the more interactive, contemporaneous discourse of their local community.

School discourse for these students was closely associated with the dominant societal forces which were responsible for the political and economic marginalisation of their own families. Entering into the official discourse was therefore not a neutral act. It could mean participating in the very practices which marginalised their own community and its discourse. She did this through building community discourse styles into her classroom teaching, thus harnessing both centripetal and centrifugal forces.

The second key Bakhtinian idea is the concept of heteroglossia. Bakhtin argues that when we speak we use words which are already saturated with ideological meaning, in relation to the centripetal and centrifugal forces described above. He describes the struggle for voice as follows:. Prior to this moment of appropriation, the word does not exist in a neutral and impersonal language We shall be exploring this idea more fully in the next reading.

Bakhtin sees meanings as emerging not from an individual utterance, but, sometimes provisionally and ambiguously, through the position of the utterance within a particular chain of communication. The utterance is itself a response, explicit or implicit, to other utterances, either in the current conversation or in the past.

And every utterance is always shaped in anticipation of its own possible responses in the future. The shape and meaning of an utterance is thus dialogically orientated in two directions, towards the past and towards the future. Specific words and phrases may also invoke links with other conversations, or with particular discourses.

There is therefore another layer of intertextual connections which contribute to the nuances of meaning in the utterance. For each word of the utterance that we are in the process of understanding, we, as it were, lay down a set of our own answering words In essence, meaning belongs to a word in its position between speakers; that is, meaning is realised only in the process of active, responsive, understanding It is like an electric spark that occurs only when two different terminals are hooked together.

Intertextuality , that is, a relation invoked explicitly or implicitly between one text spoken, written, visual or multimodal and another, has long been of interest to literary theorists and researchers in the media. Media texts such as film, television and advertisements have provided obvious rich sites for the analysis of intertextual play e. Cook, ; Meinhof and Smith, Intertextuality is now increasingly seen as an intrinsic part of meaning-making in discourse more generally.

This involved children reading and writing about themselves, their families, their community and their cultural history. The programme aimed, like the teacher reported by Sola and Bennett from their research in East Harlem, to enable students to bring their own community voices and discourse into the classroom.

The research involved classroom observation and interviews with the children, which informed the analysis of their writing.

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Kamberelis and Scott give two examples of writing by fourth grade students to illustrate their findings. We shall look in detail at one of these examples. What makes you identify these particular points? Kamberelis and Scott set out the writing in numbered lines to clarify their analysis. You may have felt that there were a number of places where Lisa seemed to be taking up a particular voice, with its associated value position.

We think this was happening at lines 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, either because she was reporting something she could not have known directly 7 , seems to be reporting a generalisation she has heard 8, 9 or seems to be quoting homilies 13, 14, In their analysis, Kamberelis and Scott suggest that Lisa takes on and orientates towards a number of specific voices. Her writing therefore is a response to voices in the media portraying life for Black people in Detroit as violent, dangerous and oppressive.

She also mentioned learning about Black history from her sister-in-law, books about Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, her teacher and her mother. Finally, she told the researchers that Jesse Jackson had preached on TV about the importance of thanking God you are alive whatever colour you are a video of this speech had been shown to the class and that her mother had told her you should love yourself whoever you are. These last two voices seem to be fairly directly reproduced in lines 13, 14 and In addition to her stylisation of particular voices and their associated ideologies i.

In this essay they suggest that Anthony appears to move and sometimes flounder between the voices and anti-gun position of his teacher and members of his club, the voices of his grandparents and mother who support the limited use of handguns and the explicitly pro-handgun position of his older brothers and their friends.

This impasse is perhaps reflected in the way the piece ends with a question. For Kamberelis and Scott, the writing of these children was not only about the development of literacy skills and the ability to present an argument, but also contributed to their exploration and development as particular kinds of people. If you are currently teaching you may want to talk to a number of your students about a particular piece of their writing and track the various voices they may be appropriating or stylising.

The teachers in the studies by Sola and Bennett and by Kamberelis and Scott endeavoured to bridge these differences, encouraging students to bring the voices of their community into the classroom. Rather than suppressing possible points of disruption, they suggest, hybridity and diversity should be harnessed to provide a rich context for teaching and learning. This reconfiguring provides new possibilities for student positions and identities and, the researchers argue, enables some of them to engage more constructively with learning in a renegotiated classroom curriculum.

The idea of reconfiguring pedagogic spaces has also been taken up in other multi-ethnic and multilingual contexts. Stein describes an exercise within an inservice postgraduate teacher training course where the teachers, who came from various different language and ethnic backgrounds in South Africa, prepared small-group dramatic presentations based on their individual literacy histories.

Because many of the teachers come from backgrounds with rich oral traditions, events such as storytelling, singing and praising are a central part of their literacy history and students are encouraged to weave their individual histories together into a performance involving music, dance, costume, gesture and visual design as well as language. Stein reports that these performances provided very powerful experiences for the students involved.

One included the acting out of the painful experience of one woman student who as a ten-year-old girl had to read and write intimate personal correspondence for the illiterate adults around her in a small rural village, and sometimes inform them of the death of their husband or son who had left home to work in the mines. The performances enabled students to interpret, rename and validate their own experience through a collaborative process which also provided a possibility, through the re-evaluation of their lives in relation to others and to much broader social and historical processes, of new definitions of self and identity.

Stein suggests that the multimodal nature of the drama — we focus in detail on multimodality in section 4 — set up powerful juxtapositions of images and memories which did not encourage students to obliterate the past, but rather to reconfigure it, and the present, to reveal new possibilities. Street argues that the way people learn literacy is always imbued with power relations and is part of an ideology, that is a system of values, beliefs and social practices connected with a particular dominant social group.

An important strand within language studies has been the development of a group of approaches to analysing ideological aspects of language, and teaching students how to do this, variously referred to as critical literacy, critical language study or critical discourse analysis. These approaches all address the following questions:. Academic writing itself often entails particular risks, sacrifices and investments in relation to the kind of person students feel they are, and the kind of person they want to become. At other times students felt they were able to express their own ideas and beliefs more directly — often at the end of an essay, by which time they had worked out a position for themselves through the writing.

Some pieces of language were appropriated because the student had been interested and excited by an idea or a writer, and some because the student felt they were appropriate for the discourse within their discipline and would be positively valued by staff evaluating the essay. It was sometimes difficult to knit language from these heterogeneous sources together, and to negotiate the tricky boundaries between quotation, paraphrase and plagiarism.

Learners of English as a second language ESL , especially migrants, have found that the identity positions offered them within the English speaking community can be crucial for their development of fluency in the language. This would explain their progress as the result of their individual motivation, self-confidence and anxiety and the degree to which they were prepared to assimilate to the lifestyle and values of Canadian society and thus maximise their contact with anglophones and the possibilities for natural language use.

Documenting the experience of the five women in her study, Norton shows that immersion and natural language learning are much more problematic than this suggests. The women were all very highly motivated to learn English, for different reasons, and were all good language learners. The three older women had been professionally trained before they emigrated, but were able to obtain only unskilled jobs in Canada and felt doubly stigmatised by their inability to get work commensurate with their education and training and by their lack of fluency in English. For all the women, the workplace was their major opportunity to mix with anglophones.

However, they were often given the low-status, solitary jobs which no one else wanted to do and this marginalisation limited their opportunities to practise English and also reduced their confidence and heightened their anxiety so that they felt reluctant to initiate conversations with other workers.

The women fought against this marginalisation in various ways. She was very keen to practise her English and was comfortable speaking in private with anglophones who knew and accepted her middle-class Peruvian identity, although she still mainly listened. Eva, in the fast-food restaurant, made a breakthrough in relations with other staff during a company social outing when her partner provided a lift for some of her co-workers and her youth and charm were more in evidence.

People began to talk to her and treat her as an interesting person, which gave her more opportunities to practise English and greater confidence to join in staff conversations, for instance to bring in her experience of Europe, and initiate contact with customers. Similarly, class and ethnicity do not reside in the individual, but are constructed and realised through social relations. Norton argues that second language acquisition theory needs to recognise that questions of identity i.

As the result of her research she argues that identity is:. Pennycook suggests inequalities between anglophone communities and second language learners are also deeply encoded within the discourse of ESL teaching and within the textbooks used with learners. He traces the discourse of teaching English as a second language back to its historical roots in nineteenth century British colonialism and assumptions about the inherent superiority of the English language and, by association, of native English speakers.

He argues that threats to standard English from other varieties are elided with ethnocentric and racist attitudes towards ethnic minorities and immigrants. These discourses and their associated value positions are then reproduced, often at an implicit level, within English language teaching materials.

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As discussed in this section, there are different ways of conceptualising the relationship between language use or discourse and identity, and these are evident in different research approaches. Vai Ramanathan focuses on the powerful status of English. She draws on the work of Kachru , who argues that there is a deep-seated unequal power relationship on a global level between an inner circle of English speakers comprised of Britain and its former old colonies the United States, Canada and Australia and an outer circle comprised of formerly colonial English speaking countries in Asia and Africa.


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In sections 1 and 2 of this unit we emphasised the importance of this notion for those working within a social perspective on language and literacy. First of all she uses practice to indicate what people routinely do in a particular institution. The kinds of observations that were made, including classroom observation, interviews and departmental notes and information about course and assessment requirements, are also clear. From such observations and data gathering Ramanathan reaches conclusions about the practice of tracking students into streams which bar some students from English-medium instruction.

As well as using practice in this concrete sense, Ramanathan uses a more abstract notion of practice. The reference to Gramsci indicates that Ramanathan is working within, if not a neo-Marxist perspective, then certainly a view of society which sees conflict at the centre of social relations. Her paper is a good example of empirically grounded critical writings on the relationship between the micro and macro level, which is echoed to a large extent in the different levels of practice: the micro-level detail of what goes on, and the macro level of generalisations or theorisations about how and why this happens.

The beginning of this section suggested that the shift towards post-structuralist ideas within the field of language studies, as well as more generally within the social sciences, has opened up new opportunities for examining and understanding some of the complex relationships between discourse and identity , or, subjectivity , and the importance of these to teaching and learning.

This shift has involved the development of a new conceptual apparatus for analysing social processes and the role of language within these. The differences and similarities between the notions of discourse community and community of practice were discussed. Theorists and researchers have found Bakhtinian ideas, for instance the concepts of voice and heteroglossia and a dialogical model of communication, particularly useful in moving towards a more process-orientated framework for analysing communication and identity.

In addition to reversioning specific voices, students use the vocabulary and discursive structures of particular discourses, aligning themselves with particular ideological positions as well as producing written assignments. Language, ethnic and other social differences can still, however, create powerful barriers for individual students, and relationships of inequality and exclusion are deeply embedded in institutional practices and social values, as shown in the research by Norton and Ramanathan.

We concluded this section by focusing on ways of researching and analysing the relationship between language use, or discourse, and identity. In particular, we focused on the way in which the notion of practice can be researched and theorised. This is an activity in creating a proposal for a practical investigation of an aspect of language or literacy which particularly interests you, related to an issue or issues in this unit.

Please note that you will only be preparing a proposal; this will not lead on to a full-scale project. Your project proposal is an opportunity for you to set out a plan for a small scale piece of research on an area you might like to explore further. A small-scale research project provides an opportunity for you to explore and reflect on one or more issues in this unit, to relate them to educational or wider concerns in your own context and to give you experience of and insights into the realities of conducting research into language and literacy.

Whatever topic you choose to examine, and whatever approach you adopt, it will be essential to locate your project work in the context of your study of the unit material. As you review the material, consider which aspects of it have most relevance to you and your interests. Consider also how you could investigate a particular topic: you should choose a topic that links the content of the unit to your own professional circumstances or personal interests. You will need to narrow down from a number of potentially interesting topics to one that is manageable.

You can choose a topic from any section of this unit, including section 4. Below are a few general suggestions to give you a sense of the scope you should aim for. Resist the temptation to be over-ambitious: this is a proposal only, not a full-scale project. Clearly, these topics differ in many respects — in the amount and kind of fieldwork they demand as opposed to their reliance on documentation, for example, as well as in the parts of the unit from which ideas and concepts are drawn.

They are expressed here in deliberately general terms, so that you may consider ways in which the idea can be adapted to your own interests and circumstances. Please note: It is not acceptable to use existing data that you may have collected for another purpose for an MA course or for professional purposes, for example. You must propose to collect new data, that is, data collected specifically for the purposes of this investigative project. This should be a concise description of your proposed project, such as in the examples above, and convey how it would be well supported by a range of material from the unit.

Here you will need to set out clearly what you wish to find out through your project work. Project aims are often more effectively expressed in the form of one or more specific investigative questions. When such questions are posed in a suitably clear way, they will help you to reach an understanding of the purpose of your project, and help you to evaluate your project when it is completed. These questions need not be formal hypotheses which you aim to prove or disprove: they may just as easily be expressed in exploratory or open-ended terms. For example, project aims might be expressed as:.

Here you should discuss the significance of the project you are proposing, and your reasons for choosing it. One way to approach this would be to answer such questions as:. Identify the main conceptual strands running through the unit which relate to your topic. This section should be brief, but the information you provide here will enable your tutor to understand the context of your investigation.

You should give careful thought to the kinds of evidence which will help you to answer your research questions, but at the same time are feasible to collect in the time available and in the settings to which you will have access. Generally speaking, the evidence base for your project will be stronger if you combine two or three different methods of collecting data.

This will also provide several perspectives on the same phenomenon. In a project on community literacy practices, it would be advisable to collect examples of the texts produced by the writers, and perhaps also to discuss the writing with them. You should design your project in a way which matches your aims.

If your project is closer to the first end of this continuum, you should ensure that you collect evidence which is sufficiently detailed and varied to enable you to document the richness of the small number of individual cases. If your project is closer to the latter end of the continuum, you will need to bring a sufficiently robust analysis to bear upon the small number of questions being asked of your evidence. Language and literacy in a changing world is not a unit on research methodology, and you will not be expected to construct a sophisticated research design or to justify your methods in the light of the literature on research methodology.

However, it does have an emphasis on learning a range of tools for practical analysis of language and texts, and understanding the rationale for different approaches to analysis, and you should be able to explain why the methods you chose to use matched the aims of your project. In other words, why did you feel that the methods you chose would help you to find out what you were attempting to find out?

The notes that follow outline some of the main methods you may consider using if you were preparing for a full-scale assignment. You should also at this stage examine those readings in the unit material which refer to or use the method or methods which you are contemplating adopting. Interviews: These can vary from a highly structured format to an open conversation covering a list of topics.

Try out at least two pilot interviews if you possibly can, and record them if possible. Listening to the recordings should help you decide if questions need to be reworded, or if you are doing too much talking yourself.

Catalog Record: Literacy and power in Anglo-Saxon literature | HathiTrust Digital Library

Recording relieves you from having to take notes during the interview and often throws up interesting information which might otherwise be missed. Audio recordings can also be an effective way to supplement your other means of data collection. Even if you do not transcribe any part of your recordings, they provide an additional perspective which brings its own particular insights on any observation or interview work you have done. If audio recording is not possible, then decide beforehand on the best way of making notes.

When interviewing, it is usually much more productive to relate your questions to specific people, events or practices than to ask generalised questions. Questionnaires: Like interviews, these range from the highly structured to those with more open-ended questions. The questionnaire may be completed in your presence as part of an interview, or in your absence.

When constructing your questionnaire think about how you intend to analyse the results you obtain. If you are hoping to make some quantitative statements then the questions cannot be open-ended. You will need to consider the reply options that you provide, so that people can, for example, tick a box or circle an answer.

Observation: A variety of methods can be used to observe and analyse interaction, for example taking detailed notes of observed events, or making transcriptions of recorded events in classrooms. If you are using audio or video recordings in a classroom there are certain things you need to consider. The sound quality is likely to be important if you want to reflect on the language being used. How you set up your audio or video equipment to make recordings is going to be affected by who it is that you wish to hear or see most clearly. If you are interested in student—student interaction in groups, for example, you may need to use a number of cassette recorders placed with each individual group.

You are strongly advised to pilot your recording techniques. By this we mean that you should try out your data collecting methods in a classroom situation and see if they work. After making a recording, watch or listen to it carefully. Can you hear and see everything you need to? If not, can you position your equipment differently to improve things or do you need to modify your data requirements?

E844: Language and literacy in a changing world

You should include some reflection on ethical issues, and indicate ways in which you will respect the privacy of individuals and the confidentiality of data relating to them. You should also consider, if necessary, whether you will need to inform parents about your project or seek their permission to involve their children in the work. You might also like to consider what purposes your findings could be put to. If you work in a school, for example, is it expecting some kind of outcome which can be used to direct policy? You should give a clear account and some justification of the ways in which you will relate your evidence to your aims and initial questions.

In some cases the most useful conceptual frameworks for analysing evidence will emerge after the evidence has been collected and initially examined. However, even at this relatively early stage you should begin to consider the kinds of frameworks you might devise to categorise your evidence, and the kinds of themes and issues which you might adopt as organizing principles for your analysis. You should include here any practical difficulties you face in carrying out your project e.

This section looks at two main areas of study, multimodality and information technology. First, we introduce and define multimodality, consider some examples of multimodal texts and outline why they are worth studying. We then look at ways in which developments in technology are often linked to often subtle changes in language — language form — as well as affecting how we communicate with each other. Finally we draw these together, focusing on information technology and multimodality in educational settings and the processes of teaching and learning.

We raise some questions about issues of access and patterns of participation in these emerging practices of communication, drawing on the material in this section. As you study this section, you will be encouraged to make links to issues raised earlier in the unit. Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution Sign In. Buy This Article. View Metrics. Citing articles via Google Scholar. Email alerts Latest Issue. Subscribe to Article Alert. The Trouble with Antinormativity. On Message.

Reward Yourself

Periperformative Life Narrative: Queer Collages. Related Topics literacy narrative literacy autobiography academic discourse writing performativity citationality identity Judith Butler David Bartholomae Peter Elbow. Carnal Relations. New literacy studies encompasses the full range of communicative practices in which members of a community participate, including those mediated by computer technologies. University research increasingly includes students as participants and co-researchers.

Social media and identity in higher education - Education studies, digital age screencast

Chandler and her co-authors provide an excellent model—and argument—for doing so. The practice of inviting students into the research process is generally justified in terms of the apprenticeships and learning opportunities it affords. For Chandler, research with students does more than provide students with extra learning opportunities. It is also the feminist thing to do, as it erodes the hierarchies between researchers and research participants and—particularly in the case of human subjects research—generates stronger, less biased research, because that research has been validated by its subjects.

Chandler looks for a model sufficient to her task, and finds it in participatory action research PAR. In Chapter Two, Chandler introduces readers to the premises and rationales of PAR, such as the purposeful overlapping of collective action and collaborative reflection. Chandler outlines the parameters of the study in this chapter. Transcriptions from recorded interviews are written and analyzed for storytelling patterns by the students themselves, using approaches derived from narrative analysis.

In a method suggested by Catherine Reissman, new interpretations emerge through a series of drafts of transcripts of these recorded conversations. These strategies identify markers of agency and identity in oral interviews. The theoretical concepts introduced in this chapter are supplemented by a very useful glossary at the end of the book. They are a culturally mixed group of first-generation college students with varied experiences with digital literacy.

Their literacy narratives and analyses comprise Chapters Four through Eight. Chapters Five and Six introduce theories of life course development research through two middle-aged returning students, Molly Kenner and Maureen Kadash, who grew up in the print generation and did not engage with computers until adulthood.


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  • Life course development research suggests that we learn our preferred patterns for relating life experiences in early childhood; by early adulthood we have acquired a set of scripts that both authorize and guide our subsequent growth. Like researchers who have studied the use of written literacy autobiography assignments in the classroom e.

    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education
    Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education Identity Papers: Literacy and Power in Higher Education

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