ATTW 2011 Research Methods Workshops
Atlanta April 5, 2011 8:30-12:00
The Research Methods Workshops are an initiative of the Research Committee of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) aimed at providing an opportunity for those entering the profession and those less trained in research to develop more sophisticated research skills.
This year, ATTW is sponsoring two Research Methods Workshops:
• Christina Haas, University of Minnesota, and Chad Wickham, Auburn University, on Building Conceptual Structures from Qualitative Data
• Jeff Grabill, Michigan State, on Research Practices in Action Research
These two half-day workshops will be held in Atlanta on Tuesday morning, April 5, 8:30-12:00. This is the day preceding the ATTW conference (April 6) and the CCCC conference (April 6-9).
Each workshop focuses on a methodology for data analysis and is designed to help researchers create and try out an analytic approach using their own data. Building Conceptual Structures from Qualitative Data with Christina Haas and Chad Wickham focuses on developing units of analysis for qualitative data and using those units to systematically and inductively build theory. Research Practices in Action Research with Jeff Grabill focuses on data collection and analysis in action research, an approach to research that seeks to effect change. Complete descriptions of these workshops can be found below.
Registration for each workshop is $100. Ten scholarships of $200 each are available to graduate students to defray the cost of the workshop and hotel.
Participation in these workshops is awarded on a competitive basis and constitutes a place on the ATTW program.
To apply for a place in one of these workshops, complete the attached registration form, and send it along with a 1-page description of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure to indicate on the form whether you wish to be considered for a scholarship. Applications are due November 15, 2010 and acceptances will emailed to you by Dec 1.
Questions about these workshops can be directed to either of the Co-Chairs of the ATTW Committee on Research, Cheryl Geisler (email@example.com) or Bill Hart-Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Building Conceptual Structures from Qualitative Data
Christina Haas, University of Minnesota
Chad Wickman, Auburn University
Writing researchers are often confronted with a vexing question: How do we develop a theoretical account of writing — a larger vision, in Haraway’s words –while still remaining true to the particularities of “the somewhere,” the settings and situations we study? The purpose of this workshop is to help writing researchers develop strategies for understanding and addressing a two-pronged problem: delineating a units of analysis in qualiativequalitative research and using that those units to systematically and inductively build theory.
The purpose of this workshop is to explore analytic methods for inductively generating theory from data. Toward that end, we will focus, specifically, on ways in which researchers can justify the (inductive) movement between data, units of analysis, conceptual structures, and theories of broader scope that can inform ongoing data collection and analysis. Three questions will guide how we think about and engage with this process: 1) How do we articulate viable units of analysis that can be traced to specific data? 2) How do we articulate conceptual structures that can be traced to specific units of analysis? 3) How do we articulate substantive theory that can be traced to specific conceptual structures, units of analysis, and data? Exploring these questions is critical both for building theory from data and for articulating this process in a way that helps to warrant our broader theoretical claims.
The workshop will begin by considering ways to identify units of analysis in different kinds of data. Depending on participants’ needs, these might include:
• Multi-Semiotic Texts
• Recorded Talk
• Video (Gesture)
• Material Artifacts
Working with their own data and/or samples provided by workshop leaders, participants will articulate units of analysis and consider the various ways in which these units can be developed into conceptual structures and thus integrated into theory that can 1) be turned back toward the data being analyzed; and 2) be turned outward toward other, similar data sets.
Participants will ideally have research designs in mind, and perhaps research underway, that explores in situ writing activity and the ways in which texts function in various social and cultural contexts. Participants will also be asked to read two or three article-length foundational texts prior to the start of the workshop.
Research Practices in Action Research
Jeff Grabill, Michigan State University
Researchers in professional and technical communication are interested in how people use language to “do work” in the world. They share this interest with scholars in rhetoric (among others). But what counts as “the world,” and “work,” and the mechanisms of that activity (language, writing, performance) can vary quite a bit across and among these researchers. In addition, some researchers are also interested in approaches to research that seek, in their design, to effect some change. This workshop will focus on action research as a way of acting in the world as researchers.
This workshop will provide a brief overview of the various meanings of “action research,” “participatory [action] research,” and similar traditions like “critical” or “engaged” research. In this regard, participants will walk away from the workshop with a useful understanding of these traditions. As part of this overview, however, we will also consider what action research might and should look like as writing research.
The second part of the workshop will consist of participants in groups applying concepts to their own projects or, absent projects, scenarios that will be provided to them. In this second portion of the workshop, we will work through issues of methodology by focusing on research practices. We will focus in particular on details related to data collection and data analysis. The central problem of the workshop is to understand how to do research and action in the same project.
This workshop is aimed at participants involved in research projects that investigate writing and rhetoric and social contexts with an eye toward direct intervention. Prior to the workshop, participants will be asked to read foundational materials related to action research as well as a number of studies. They will also be asked to bring drafts of study designs or ideas to share.