In the interest of getting things out of the scratchbook (literally!) and into the dumping ground, here are a few of the ideas that’ve been rattling around upstairs for my 5363 microstudy. So, in no particular order:
Idea One–Invention Remediation Study:
Compare invention/prewriting between students using tablet PCs (nearly ubiquitous now at my uni.) and pen & paper. Are there significant differences between prewriting done in the two technological spaces (spatial? extent? messiness? ___?) This is could be interesting–the tablet PC remediates pen & paper through the stylus and programs such as Microsoft OneNote and Windows Journal, both of which allow users to handwrite rather than type. (While still allowing typing, visual clips, hyperlinking, etcetera). The only limitation here is that I am only teaching one full section of 1310 (the honors class isn’t a comparable population for such a study), so I’d have to get the cooperation of another instructor doing a largely similar writing assignment. I’ve got someone in mind, but still have to talk to her about it. I’d be interested in descriptively comparing prewriting done on tablets (with OneNote) to prewriting done on paper.
This one, after having written about it, certainly seems most doable as a microstudy.
Idea Two–Digital Who-Whats?
This is exploratory and perhaps more than mildly dissertationally-directed, and includes a number of (still slightly fuzzy) options. This could be done via a number or combination of methods:
Compare how students’ use of a specific digital discourse or tool (social networking, wiki, google) changes as they progress through college. This could be narrowed in any number of ways: specifically tailored to particular population (English, English & Writing majors) or draw on a larger university population. Couldn’t be a true “progression” study, as I’d have to study the same specific population (i.e. a graduating class) of students. But it could be an interesting qualitative comparison or case study.
What are some attitudes about digital discourse (social networking/wiki/blogging) in different disciplines? Among students? Among faculty? I suppose there’s a hint of replication here of Stephanie Vie’s study, “Digital Divide 2.0” (2008), one of my journal review assignment articles, as well as an offshoot from the metaAcademia project that my coresearchers and I put together for Fred’s class this summer.
Again, as I write through these ideas (I must nod to Emig, I suppose), I come to realize that while interesting, the Digital Who-Whats? options may not be as viable for microstudy as the revision idea. I deleted a bunch of half-crazy too-large ideas just by putting them down here.
There. Metacognitive moment over.
So, there it is. Commentary is welcome. (If it weren’t, I wouldn’t put it on the blog!)
Speaking of digital practices and student research, by the way… If you’re interested, I’m also currently facilitating a project with my Honors 1310 class, about digital practices of social clubs. It’s not super-rigorous at this point (really, it’s just getting started), but hopefully it will be so by the end of the semester.