Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Re-visioning revision-ing

After dedicating several hours of my morning to reviewing teaching award files, I've turned my afternoon attention to the exciting task of coding drafts of past years' REU students' drafts, preparing for the panel on mathematical rhetoric I'll be presenting with my Charleston friends at this year's very-fast-approaching Conference on College Composition and Communication. While our panel will offer an overview of our earlier work on the rhetorical moves REU students make in crafting disciplinary writing, we'll also offer a sneak peak of the analysis we're doing on revision.

Regarding that analysis: this shit is hard, y'all. At least, it's time consuming. Back in December I spent a full day with my Charleston peeps Bella and Damian making qualitative observations on each of the seven drafts written by a single student author. We're taking this route because we found that existing revision coding strategies (like a classical one due to Faigley and Witte in their 1981 paper "Analyzing revision") don't adequately capture the richness of the students' rhetorical moves as they revise their drafts of authentic disciplinary writing: while Faigley and Witte applied their schema to somewhat tightly-constrained writing produced in an artificial setting with strongly-controlled revision protocols, my REU students were writing in order to elaborate on their ongoing original research projects. The complexity of the latter students' writing (both products and processes) defies easy microscopic analysis, and we quickly abandoned such analytical methods.

That's not to say that we're not getting some "quantitative" data: we're tracking measures like number of pages, number of paragraphs, number of citations and references, etc., with the hope that we can glean some interesting conclusion from this info, if nothing more than trends that roughly parallel our qualitative observations.

We'll see.

For now, back to coding...

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