Writing Theories Under Construction

This week we read an excerpt from “Grounded Theory: A Critical Research Methodology” by Joyce Magnotto Neff in Under Construction: Working at the Intersection of Composition Theory, Research, and Practice. It made me think that reflect on why we do the work that we do. What makes us take the theories into practice. The main takeaway from me was the grounded theory methodology. The data driven principals that the methodology is founded on lends itself to the opportunity to test this theory out. Data is important when looking at the trends in writing and trying to find a way to improve both the teaching and the actual doing of writing. 

There is so much guesswork in the teaching of writing instruction because of the complexity of human activity. As a result, I think it is important to have a structured lens in which to look at the data. "Grounded theory methodology insists that no matter how general-- how broad in scope or abstract -- the theory, it should be developed in that back and forth-- interplay with data that is so central to this methodology."  It is in the back and forth approach where I think we find the most important details of the work. In the trial and error of doing and studying we stay grounded in work. This type of work clearly distinguishes the difference between theory and practice. 

The second text, Confronting the Challenges of Participating Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century was a very interesting read. I actually enjoyed this much more than the previous text. This really spoke to me thinking as both a teacher of writing and a graduate student. Even though I can remember a world without the convenance of modern technological advances it is hard for me to remember a time without it. "The computer does not operate in a vacuum. Injecting digital technologies into the classroom necessarily affects our relationships with every other communications." No truer words have been spoken in relation to computers. Today nothing moves without computers-- this is especially true in the world of writing. A revolution of sorts has happened in writing because of the advent of computers. Students have been removed from traditional classroom forums and moved into a world that they are more familiar and comfortable with. 

The term "affinity spaces" emerged in this article and it was like a lightbulb went off in my mind. "Affinity spaces are distinct from formal education systems." Different from the traditional classrooms of the past. And these affinity spaces have made room for students to be participants in their education and this is space that is greatly needed. In these organic spaces students are allowed and are more likely to create and participate. I think the participation is key. In traditional classrooms students are more reluctant to participate to write, to share their ideas for whatever reason. But in this digital space students are more reticent to be involved to give their ideas and to create. 

As an educator I see it when I use technology to engage my students and elicit their participation in a world that is familiar to them. And as a graduate student I am experiencing this in my Networked Narratives class. Being a student in this space navigating through a world that I have become familiar with has enabled me to be an engaged student in a manner that I never would've before. This is the way of the world and I feel that I sit in a very good space to be able to get the perspective of this educational shift from two different spectrums. It has given me so much insight into what is to coming next. 


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