What Are Your Research Questions?

Although recently sidetracked by Trump, I have devoted this blog to pedagogical issues with a focus on promoting teaching practices that create positive writing experiences in our classrooms and consequently, positive attitudes toward writing. Although I may be in the minority among writing teachers in accentuating this link between experience and attitude, I know there are many in the field who appreciate this link and work to encourage a love of writing among their students (if not love, at least like). But there are a distressing number of teachers who to my mind inexplicably maintain a no-pain, no-gain theology.

If I were looking for a research/book project, I would investigate how in the face of so much educational research on motivation and learning (see Dewey, Britton et. al, Moffett, Tagg), writing teachers maintain what seems to me to be a counter-intuitive logic discounting or at least down-playing the effect of a student’s learning experience on the object of learning.

As I have said before in this blog, a colleague and I have been working on developing a writing program and assessment project  predicated on the link between experience, attitude, and learning. As part of our project, we began to investigate the link between teachers’ attitudes toward and experiences with writing toward how they teach writing. We might even generalize: teachers’ attitudes toward and experiences of learning with how they teach.

My colleague and I understand that how teachers teach is also shaped by the rhetorical situation within which they teach: the physical, institutional, and political environments–e.g., an adjunct devoted to writing might be teaching in a basement within a program with ogres for wpas, chairs, and deans in Texas.

I have had some conversations within the past few days that made me wonder about a further relationship between researchers’ attitudes toward and experiences of writing and their research.  I am assuming here that like teaching, no research (or researcher) is innocent. Perhaps writing studies researchers might ask themselves (and maybe reflect in writing) what their attitudes toward writing are and how those attitudes affect their research questions. I can imagine, for example, one dimension of attitude as a scale with writing for fun and writing as duty. How would one’s location on this continuum affect the kind of research questions they asks (please ignore [or maybe not] the phallic implication)?

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