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ERIC Number: ED498886
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Mar-23
Pages: 7
Abstractor: Author
A Confluence of Voices Negotiating Identity: An East Coast-West Coast Exchange of Ideas on Writing, Culture, and Self
Rankin-Brown, Maria; Fitzpatrick, Carrie
Online Submission, Paper presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) (New York, NY, Mar 23, 2007)
Background: This study involved a bicoastal project between four composition classes, two in California and two in Pennsylvania. The focus was on how students read, write, and converse about ethnic and spiritual distinctiveness and the role of writing in identity development. Purpose: The researchers exercised a variety of methods (diverse readings, classroom/online discussions, and writing projects) to help students see how their multiple cultures are enacted, shaped, and strengthened in their own lives. This knowledge was used as a tool to strengthen students' literacy skills and to attempt in creating cultural awareness and connection beyond the English classroom. Research Design: Descriptive; Narrative Synthesis; Qualitative. Data Collection and Analysis: Research Questions RQ1: Can reading, writing, and conversing about ethnic and spiritual distinctiveness enhance multicultural understanding and interest among our composition class students? RQ2: Can reading, writing, and conversing about ethnic and spiritual distinctiveness help in student identity development? RQ3: How does the act of writing enhance one's identity development? Data Collection Tools: Questionnaires (open and closed questions); Shared multicultural readings by published authors ("Many Voices: A Multicultural Reader"); Web discussions; Peer feedback paper assignments (literacy autobiographies and culture-related research papers). Step I: the reading and rereading stage, important ideas and key words, phrases, and sentences were highlighted within the raw data. Step II: drew connections and distinctions, the data from step one was coded into categories to assist in establishing connections and distinctions between and among the responses. Step III: identified and interpreted emergent themes. The themes that "emerged" from the raw data necessitated the creation of a chart. Step IV: we stepped back from the data, physically and chronemically (took time away from data), to reassess the findings and recapture a broad perspective. By creating brief "distance," we could look at the findings and the data instrument with "fresh eyes" and more accurately assess contextual variables that may have influenced the research. Findings: Findings are available in chart format in the full length paper. As the results indicate, the process of discussing, reading, and writing about multicultural issues can (eliminate students' ideas or reduce students' perceptions) that the academic writing process is meaningless, distant and remote. By changing how literacy is viewed and taught, students are better equipped to personally understand the role of culture and literacy in their lives and the world. Engaging in such activities can broaden students' and teachers' worlds beyond their own sometimes isolated campuses (especially with parochial schools!). Students can realize that it is possible for learning to take place in spaces and places other than when on their own campus and with the people they see on a daily basis. Conclusion: For educators, addressing ethnic multiplicity, spiritual diversity, and identity development can be risky. Ignorance and stereotypes still exist, and some discussions and assignments have the potential to get heated and thorny. This does not mean that educators should shy away from these issues because discourse allows for "ways of being in the world, or forms of life which integrate words, acts, values, beliefs, attitudes, and social identities, as well as gestures, glances, body positions, and clothes, [...] [creating] opportunities for people to be and recognize certain kinds of people" (Gee 127-128). We found that through investigations such as this one, writing courses can be a dynamic tool for exploring community, and ethnicity, so that teachers can create within students a unique and sustained interest in culture and classroom learning, which students can use to explore and to empower their own and others' cultural identity and traditions. This deeper understanding enlivens literacy for them and creates "emergent moments." These emergent moments are "point[s] at which the personal, the critical, and the rhetorical intersect in a text, a point at which the student can hold multiple perspectives simultaneously and reflexively" (Harris 403). Teachers are not excluded from contributing to and examining their identity, culture and literacy in this process. Teachers can benefit from multicultural readings and discussions by evaluating their own cultural experiences to gain added insight into their own identities and motivations. These insights may help educators develop new and interesting teaching strategies and projects to make classrooms more diverse and inclusive for students.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Pennsylvania