Monday, November 28, 2011

Writing self-efficacy, Web 2.0, Multilingual Writers, and Attention

Hello, All!
As you may remember, I am conducting a study to consider how the use of Web 2.0 platforms in classes might affect (improve?) the writing self-efficacy of multilingual writers. To unpack that briefly:

Web 2.0 platforms have the potential to conflate the reader/writer dichotomy (e.g., you're either one or the other) to a reader-writer identity (e.g., you read, you respond/you write, someone else responds), my hope has been that by incorporating blogs into my coursework, students who self-identify as poor academic writers might have the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of having their own writing read and responded to--and seeing how others write, respond, and develop their own and others' ideas over the course of a course.

If there is a certain "satisfaction" or "payoff," does it translate into improved writing self-efficacy--the belief that they can approach a challenging writing task and persevere through its completion?

I say "multilingual" writers to include the traditional category of "ESL" students as well as Basic Writers who may be bidialectal (albeit, their perception of another dialect may be that it is "broken"), and resident ESLs (a/k/a Gen 1.5) whose language/literacy competencies are difficult to cleanly categorize. These are the students that populate our classrooms at LaGuardia with monolinguals in the minority. "Multilingual" in this sense is not only from a teacher's perspective (wow! look at the range of language experiences/competencies in this class!) as well as students' perspectives as they read each other's writing and make accommodations for communication.

Now that it's getting toward the end of the semester, I'll ask those of you who asked your students to fill out my questionnaire in September/October, to ask them fill it out again in December:

I'm excited to see the results, but already thinking about how I will tweak the study going forward to consider pedagogical issues (those rich, complex variables that fill a class each semester!) I hadn't anticipated beforehand. These have helped me to unpack my assumptions further.  A big one includes attention, which I've mentioned on this blog previously, and will continue to elaborate in further posts. I don't mean this as in "Pay attention, guys!" as if it were as simple as that. But based on emerging studies about the brain, the Internet, and learning, I understand much better that asking students to use Web 2.0 platforms is not as simple as allowing students to use something they are used to in their so-called out-of-school literacies. (I know this is obvious to you guys as you have been developing and implementing and grappling with the consequences of your own amazing Web 2.0 pedagogies! But I'm beginning to understand this more deeply.)

It's been fantastic reading about what you're doing and I'm eager to talk/write/read more about how integrating Web 2.0 has challenged and addressed your own pedagogical goals. To be continued...


  1. Interesting. I just finished evaluating an article that argues we have shifted into "post-postmodernism" where the connective, endlessly accessible cacophony of the re-mixed, interactive, hyper-texted network has created a new type of identity: Wredearly.

    Considering this "post-postmodern" state of excess, I share your concern about *attention*, as expresssly argued in Nicholas Carr's _The Shallows_ as well as Sherry Turkle's _Alone Together__. I think this is a critical topic to explore and I think C 2.0 is the right venue to explore it.

  2. For my Basic Writing students, blogs seem to be highly effective for most of them. But I have had to make the blog entries 80% of the class grade to get them to do them at all. But of course that is sort of the point--by definition most Basic Writers do not want to write and they certainly do not want anyone to see it when they do. I really believe the public nature of blogging gives them perspective on audience and their own abilities and needs compared to classmates.