Ethnography Of A Writing Class 20%

This assignment allows future teachers to observe the pedagogical practices of a single writing classroom. These observations of a real-life classroom are an invaluable way for future teachers to connect the pedagogical and composition theory they’ve read to real-world classrooms. Which theories about writing and teaching play out in practice? Which theories are embedded in classroom practice? Which theories don’t fit?

Following ethical ethnography practices, you will share a draft of the ethnography with the course instructor, asking for feedback. You may include their feedback in the final overview or you may make changes to the component parts based on their suggestions. You will also give the final version to the instructor who may make it available to her students.

This in an academic project, but there is much room for creativity. Feel free to make this project your own.

The ethnography project consists of several component parts:

  • Perhaps most important will be four 1-2 page class observations. While these class observations will spend much time describing what happened in the class, each observation will close with a short section that talks about which theories were enacted (or not) in the classroom or course design that day. These class visits are a way to connect the theory we read to real-world practice.
  • Your interview with the course instructor will be another invaluable component of the ethnography (and perhaps invaluable to your research essay as well). The form this interview takes (profile, Q&A, transcript) is left to your discretion. You can ask questions about the specific class, about teaching writing in general, and/or about your research topic. I imagine the interview will be at least 2 pages in length.
  • You will analyze a stack of student papers, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the student writers. Because we can’t photocopy or quote from students without their permission, your analysis will be impressionist and general (but still useful). Spend a couple hours reading through a stack of student papers, taking notes. Your analysis may or may not discuss theory we’ve read, and I imagine your analysis will be 1-2 pages.
  • Finally, you will write an overview of the class that discusses the theories we’ve read as they apply (or don’t apply) to the course. This overview will discuss the syllabus, day-to-day schedule, and major assignments of the class. The length and form of this overview will determined by students in EN 551, but I expect the formality/creativity of the overview will be a matter of personal taste.

Complete Draft Due: April 17
Final Due: April 24

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