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English 703, Spring 2005

RESEARCH METHODS IN COMPOSITION & RHETORIC

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming
  • CLASS MEETINGS: R 1:00 - 3:30, 7105  H. C. White Hall
  • CLASS EMAIL LIST: english-703@lists.students.wisc.edu
  • OFFICE: 6187D  H. C. White Hall
  • OFFICE HOURS: W 1:00 - 2:30; F 11:00 - 12:00; & gladly by appt.
  • PHONE: 263-3367 (o)
  • EMAIL: jdfleming@wisc.edu


  •  Description | Assignments | Human Subjects | Texts | Calendar | Bibliography | Rhetoric Links on the WWW

    1.  DESCRIPTION.

    English 703 is an introduction to research methods in composition and rhetoric and is intended to help graduate students in this and related fields become more comfortable with the ways knowledge about writing and writing instruction is produced.  The course is organized around a small number of big questions – who writes? how do they do it? what is the nature of the texts they produce? how effective is our teaching of writing? what stories can we tell about writing and writing instruction? what are the contexts for writing and learning to write in our world? – on the belief that research usually begins not with method but with uncertainty, doubt, dissatisfaction, and curiosity.  Methods follow from and are secondary to the questions we ask and the goals we have for answering them.  Starting from those questions, we'll work our way through several self-contained research projects, most of them collaborative, each ending in a short paper or presentation.  We'll be ecumenical in our approach not only to questions but to methods and methodologies as well.  We'll also be reflective about the ethical and epistemological problems involved in doing research.  And we'll try to resist the tyranny of the dissertation – that will always be on the horizon for us, but I want to see "research" here in broader terms, as something that covers all kinds of inquiry, including teacher and action research and program assessment.  I also hope to make connections between the kinds of research we do and the kinds we ask our students to do.  An undeniable point of reference for us will be English 100, or first-year composition, but the course should be relevant to a variety of concerns and goals.

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    2.  ASSIGNMENTS.

    Expectations for reading and discussion will be high.  Please come to every class meeting with good questions and comments about the day's readings and respond thoughtfully to the questions and comments of others.

    Each unit of the course will involve a project; some of these will be conducted in pairs or small groups; some will be undertaken individually; at least one will be conducted by the whole class together.  Each project will culminate in an oral and/or written presentation of approximately 5 pages or 10 minutes long each.


    Details about these projects and their final products will be negotiated as we proceed.

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    3.  HUMAN SUBJECTS.

    Any research involving human subjects must follow strict federal and university ethical guidelines.  Every student in English 703 must, at a minimum, read the information on the first two websites below and complete the tutorial on the third within the first three weeks of the course.

    For general information about Human Subjects Protection from the UW-Madison Graduate School, click here.

    For specific guidelines about human subjects research, go to the websites of the Social and Behavioral Science IRB (Institutional Review Board) or the Education Research IRB.

    For UW-Madison’s Human Subjects Protection Tutorial, click here.

    For guidelines and policies concerning student research at UW-Madison, click here.

    For CCCC's Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Research in Composition Studies, click here.

    For the Nuremburg Code, click here.

    For the Belmont Report, click here.

    For the federal Common Rule, click here.

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    4.  TEXTS.

    Readings in the class will come from the following texts, all available for purchase at University Book Store on State Street.
    In addition, there is a required coursepack [CP] for sale at Bob's Copy Shop, 37 University Square (257-4536), for $30.00.  A listing of the articles and chapters in the coursepack can be found by clicking here.

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    5.  CALENDAR.


    January 20 Th FIRST DAY Introduction to course



    Emig [CP]




    Unit I: Who writes and how do they do it?

    27 Th case studies interviews and process tracing



    Herrington & Curtis [CP]; MacNealy [CP]; deMarrais [CP]; Prior [CP]; Mortensen [KS]
    February 03 Th on story-telling and generalizing



    Kramp [CP]; Newkirk [KS]; Firestone [CP]

    10 Th the ethics of research



    Anderson [MK]; Newkirk [MK]; Brueggemann [MK]; Williams [MK]




    Unit II: What is the nature of the texts they produce?

    17 Th linguistic / text / discourse analysis



    Witte & Faigley [CP]; Barton [CP]; Huckin [KS]

    24 Th critical discourse analysis; on coding & theorizing



    Powell [CP]; Grant-Davie [KS]; Miller [KS]
    March 03 Th positioning ourselves and others



    Harding [CP]; Sullivan [KS]; Ede [KS]; Mountford [MK]




    Unit III: How effective is our teaching of writing?

    10 Th focus groups & surveys



    Palmquist [CP]; Kleiber [CP]; MacNealy [CP]; Charney [CP]

    17 Th empirical research



    Johanek [J]





    24 Th SPRING BREAK




    Unit IV: What stories can we tell about writing & writing instruction?

    31 Th historical research: archives



    Connors [KS]; Brereton [CP]; Paine [CP]
    April 07 Th positioning ourselves in historical research



    Royster [CP]




    Unit V: What are the contexts for writing and learning to write in our world?

    14 Th ethnography



    Cintron [CP]; Athanases [CP]

    21 Th ethnography continued



    Moss [KS]; Sullivan [MK]

    28 Th multi-method and teacher research



    Kirsch [KS]; Ray [KS]; Mahiri [MK]; Ray [MK]
    May 05 Th LAST DAY


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