Disciplinary Literacies (not the final one)
Project #3—Disciplinary Literacies
We began this semester by considering the various meanings of ‘literacy’—thinking about what we know, what it means to know, and of how we use what we know. Then, we considered how notions of literacy impact culture and vice versa, as shown through analysis of a particular artifact and its meanings and use within a culture or group. We have focused our work in particular on the idea of finding and using voices in literacy— learning new skills and using literacy and knowledge, how individuals integrate and differentiate between a public self and a private self, how we acquire and adapt new identities in new literacy situations, and how we use writing to participate in our larger societies. In our course materials, we have explored what it means to gain skills and abilities in communication, and how we change as what we learn changes us and our perceptions.
Participation in professional activities also involves acquiring new ways of thinking and communicating, and often, new conceptions of self and identity. To say, “I am a doctor” or “I am an engineer” can mean much more than to simply state what you do to earn a paycheck—these statements also mean, in some sense, that not only do you identify with a professional identity, you also operate within it—that is, you ‘are’ an engineer, but you also ‘do engineering.’
Much like the nature of changing literacies we have already studied, in every discipline of study or work, the nature of literacy itself is different. That is, each discipline you might study and each career field you may enter has its own ideas of literacy—its own ways of presenting and analyzing information, its own ways of building knowledge, its own ways of presenting knowledge in written forms. What counts as knowledge and knowing, what rhetorical traditions are used, and what sort of written products are produced within each field vary widely and wildly. Upon entering college (or a profession), you may have no idea what your field’s particular methods and traditions might be, no clue of what it means to become a participating member of that field, no sense of how to ‘do engineering.’ So, now that you know something of how literacy and cultural analysis work in general and in combination, we’ll begin to explore how they work in the world of a specific professional field.
Project 3 will focus on building your own understanding of how literacy (again, broadly taken as reading, writing, and production/use of information) is created and operates within a discipline (or profession) of interest to you. By synthesizing information which already exists about your discipline of choice and your insights, you will also develop experience with research writing in an academic context. The essence of research is to learn. It can seem natural to approach research from a dispiriting angle: “What do I need to do to complete the assignment?” rather than the productive “What do I want to
?????WRA 150 Writing: The Evolution of American Thought
Writing Ourselves into the World / VanDonkelaar
WRAC / Michigan State University Fall 2013
discover?” but virtually all actual, ‘real-world’ research derives from the latter question, no matter the field.
What can you learn about the literacy of your discipline? I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?
For this essay, ask yourself that question: what can you learn about how writing and literacy work in your specific field?
First, decide on a field. Then, collect informative materials. Research your discipline and how writing/literacy is employed within it. Last, write a source-based essay which combines and presents what you’ve discovered. Your aim will be to share your discoveries with a specific audience—other freshmen who might be interested in that same field. You will learn through your research, and your audience will learn as well, through your essay.
A few suggestions to start work:
1) As we’ve discussed, and will continue to discuss, rather than deciding on a direction for your essay at the start, do your research first, and let it guide you to your final product.
2) You may have difficulty finding much material that specifically discusses what sort of writing and communication occur in your field. If this is the case, I suggest you compare the materials you uncover in research—your interview, scholarly article, and trade article—for writing styles, purposes, and delivery. Consider each kind of source as we have in RAIDS analysis, and use this approach to see if you can learn more about the kinds of writing which happen in the field and why/where these kinds of writing are used.
3) For this project, you should be most concerned with describing the nature of writing and literacy in your field—what kinds of writing, communication, and information use (literacy) happen in Engineering, for example. Some information on the field itself and some on your sources will likely be necessary, but keep your focus on the literacies used within your field.
You already have experience with many elements of this assignment. As you did in the Cultural Artifact Analysis project, you’ll work with artifacts to draw conclusions about cultural values and practices. In this project, the ‘artifacts’ will be academic and professional texts as well as background information, and the ‘culture’ will be a disciplinary or professional culture. There is, however, one new element: you’ll perform a one-on-one interview with a member of the disciplinary or professional community that you have chosen.
In terms of research, the project will require at least three separate kinds of sources:
? Inclusion and consideration of material from one trade (or professional) publication
? Inclusion and consideration of material from at least one scholarly article
? Inclusion and consideration of material from at least one personal interview you
? To learn about how writing and literacy works in a particular discipline or profession
? To demonstrate for others new to a discipline how literacy is valued and practiced in that discipline or profession
? To learn the hows of research writing and gain practice locating, evaluating, and synthesizing source materials for an original research project
? 5-7 pages, typed or word processed, 12-point Times New Roman (or another easily readable font), MLA format (page structure and in-text citations), and a Works Cited Page
? A considered, revealing title
? Evaluation will be based on the standard rubric, but will include in this case the
quality of your research, your correct use of MLA formatting, and the integration of your research with your own thoughts.
?????GOALS and PURPOSE:
????????FORMATTING and PROCEDURE:
Th 10/31 Th 11/7
Concept Draft Due—a research proposal
Guidelines available on Angel in the Invention Draft Dropbox
Rough Draft Due for Peer Review Final Draft Due
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