Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 47, Number 4, May 2013
Issue Theme: Writing Research outside the U.S.
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Editors’ Introduction: Writing Research outside the U.S.: Our Final Introduction
Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior
Abstract: In their final introduction, the editors introduce the articles in this issue and reflect on the past five years of their editorship.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? Self-Construction in Indonesian Street Children’s Writing
Abstract: The Education for All policy is one of the Indonesian government’s solutions to return children who work in the street to formal schooling. Unfortunately, access to higher education, which can enable vertical mobility for these children, is constrained by many factors, including financial opportunities. This study examines the constructions of future selves through street children’s writing about their future careers, or cita-cita, in a writing activity conducted on a street median in Bandung, Indonesia. Through analysis of four focal children’s writings and observations of and interviews with the children and their parents, the study juxtaposes the children’s imagined future selves with the “realistic selves” revealed through their accounts as well as through their parents’ understandings of higher education circumstances in Indonesia. This study hopes to enrich the New Literacy Studies framework by examining literacy practices in a setting of urban poverty and their role in the construction of identity within the reproduction of schooling discourse.
Integrated Literacies in a Rural Kenyan Girls’ Secondary School Journalism Club
Maureen Kendrick, Margaret Early, and Walter Chemjor
Abstract: Our purpose in this paper is to foreground contextual issues in studies of situated writing practices. During a year-long case study in a rural Kenyan secondary school, we applied a number of ethnographic techniques to document how 32 girls (aged 14-18 years) used local cultural and digital resources (i.e., donated digital cameras, voice recorders, and laptops with connectivity)within the context of their after-school journalism club. We take inspiration broadly from the concept of liminal spaces, which we bring together with notions of placed resources, New Literacy Studies (NLS), multiliteracies, multimodality, and identity work. We argue that the learning space of the journalism club, including its mediating digital tools, affords identities of empowerment to students’ writing and experimentation. On close examination of the transitional space of the journalism club, we see the foundational practices of situated rehearsal, appropriation, and performance of the roles and linguistic repertoires that the learners associated with competent journalists. We conclude that the club as a learning space, including its “props” and digital resources, fostered new degrees of freedom, community, equality, and creativity. We are left with questions about the characteristics of transitional learning spaces and how these might serve as fertile ground for growing competent writers in a range of educational contexts.
The Role of Previously Learned Languages in the Thought Processes of Multilingual Writers at the Deutsche Schule Barcelona
Brandon D. Tullock and Marta Fernández-Villanueva
Abstract: In recent years, scholars have voiced the need for research which focuses on the ability of multilinguals to write across multiple languages rather than on the limitations that they face when composing in a non-native language. In order to better understand multilingual writers as resourceful and creative problem-solvers, the current study aims to investigate how German/Spanish/Catalan multilinguals draw on the full extent of their linguistic repertoires to solve lexical problems while writing in their fourth language, English. Think-aloud data were collected from 10 informants (8 female, 2 male; ages 16-17) in a German immersion secondary school in Barcelona, Spain. Analysis of the participants’ protocols revealed that the activation of lexical items across several languages was a common approach to tackling lexical problems. The writers’ resourcefulness and creativity were apparent in the activation of cognate forms and their willingness to experiment with language. In their metacomments, they expressed awareness of their strategic behavior as well as their degree of satisfaction with their solutions. It is argued that more research into the strategic behavior of multilingual writers is necessary in order to inform multilingual pedagogy.
Learning to Write a Research Article: Ph.D. Students’ Transitions toward Disciplinary Writing Regulation
Montserrat Castelló, Anna Iñesta, and Mariona Corcelles
Abstract: This paper presents a study designed from a socially situated and activity theory perspective aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of how Ph.D. students regulate their academic writing activity. Writing regulation is a complex activity of a highly situated and social nature, involving cyclical thought-action-emotion dynamics and the individual’s capacity to monitor his/her activity. The central purpose was to analyze how writing regulation takes place within the framework of an educational intervention, a seminar designed to help Ph.D. students write their first research articles. The seminar not only focused on teaching the discursive resources of disciplinary articles in psychology but also sought to develop students’ recognition of epistemic stances (ways of knowing) and identities (ways of being) of their academic and disciplinary communities. While doing this, the seminar also aimed at helping students overcome the contradictions they encountered as they constructed their identities as researchers and writers through writing. We collected data on seminar participants’ perceptions (through analyses of interviews, diaries, and in-class interaction) and practices (through analyses of successive drafts and peers’ and tutors’ text revisions). Contradictions represent a challenge for which the individual does not have a clear answer. Consequently, solutions need to be creative and often painful; that is, the individual needs to work out something qualitatively different from a mere combination of two competing forces. The unit of analysis was the “Regulation Episode,” defined as the sequences of discourse and/or action from which a contradiction may be inferred and which, in turn, lead to the implementation of innovative actions to solve. Results showed that contradictions regarding students’ conceptualizations of their texts—as artifacts-in-activity versus as end-products—and of their identities as disciplinary writers become visible through certain discursive manifestations such as “dilemmas” and “critical conflicts” (Engeström & Sannino, 2011). The development of students’ disciplinary writing identity was affected by their perceptions of peripheral participation in the disciplinary community and of contradictions between different communities. Two successful ways students resolved contradictions and regulated their writing activity were to redefine the output and consider the text as a tool to think; implementing these solutions resulted in substantial changes to drafts. These results might be used to design socioculturally oriented educational interventions and tools to help students develop as disciplinary writers.
Author and Subject Index