My deliverable

I almost put a question mark on the end of that title as I feel like that final deliverable is still a question mark…I’m working on something but it isn’t what I said it would be and I don’t think it will go beyond my small circle of co-researchers. I do think it will be an useful document for me but is that good enough? Guess I better check with Becky.

When we had to propose our research topic at the beginning of the semester I had some difficulty, in my mind, presenting my project as field research. But now that I have come to more fully understand what field research is — I am definite that this is field research. The work I’m doing is situated very firmly within a specific field — first-year writing or freshman composition — and studying the work of that field in the classrooms and offices (not to mention copy rooms) of the writing teacher.

I think field methods is a much more effective way to study a process such collaborative grading than a quasi-experiment and I think education and teaching in general. Anyone who has ever taught knows that the classroom experience cannot be controlled — and I think the lessons learned from a “controlled” experiment cannot hold very true for real teachers and real classrooms.

So what am I doing now? First I gathered all my material together and it is a pretty impressive list of artifacts:


  • Databases created for data mining
  • Data mining project
  • Field methods report (setting and timeline)
  • Summary assignment
  • Summary rubric
  • Student summary papers
  • Completed summary rubrics
  • Synthesis assignment
  • Synthesis rubric
  • Student synthesis papers
  • Completed synthesis rubrics
  • Engle, Mascle, Reding interviews
  • Emails

Then I realized that there was something very important lacking from my original list — a good narrative timeline of the project.  I should have done this as I went but this is my first project of this scope and there are a lot of things I should have done differently (I won’t mention my 36-hour panic when I thought I lost a set of scored rubrics…if you could see my office you will marvel that I ever found them). So that is what I’m currently working on. I think this document will be a key element for me — especially in the future. Right now all the details are fresh but…

So where do I go from here?

  • I will have my collaborators “member check” my timeline
  • We will have a debrief to go over our assignments and rubrics to tweak them
  • We will have a collaborative session to discuss some of the papers with more disparate grade spreads

When those things are done I will feel that the pilot study is complete but I still have questions…

  1. Will Becky accept my timeline as a deliverable or does she want me to “deliver” what I promised?
  2. What do I do with all this info now? I can think of several avenues for publishing (and am in fact collaborating with Ronda Wery and Fred Kemp on a 4Cs proposal right now) — obviously different folks would be interested in different aspects of the project — researchers, teachers, administrators
  3. Where do I go with the study? Do I expand the study in the fall semester to include more instructors– do we do it the same or simply collect the scores (and maybe papers?) of the larger pool for future study or do we harness technology (ala TTU) to ease the process?
  4. Do I expand the study in the spring semester to include more assignments?
  5. Do I expand the study to include more institutions?
  6. And my final question…not to be sneezed at in terms of importance…what do I report to my dept. Just the bare facts, numbers, and statistics? Do I go for a more narrative approach? Some middle ground? Should I put it to a vote of the class?

Thank you everyone for your support and help this semester! I couldn’t have done it without you — or certainly with a lot more angst!


1 Comment »

  1. kairoshorses said

    RE: our Yahoo conversation: I think the timeline is something that is good for the project…but for a more “public” consumption, I’d love to see you focus on a couple “problematic” issues from the experience (tensions in pedagogy, collaboration, etc.), and then focus on those (and you can select several), reflection on these issues in the context of the research. You can even include the “data”, because I think it’s interesting. But essentially what you’re doing is complicating/problematizing existing thinking about “collaboration” and “collaborative grading”.

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