Research Agenda

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My research reflects my varied interests in digital technology and its connections to writing in and beyond the classroom. As I have gained experience as a teacher and researcher, my interests have developed in two major areas: technology pedagogy preparation and professional development for writing instructors and student use of technology.

My current major project, “Techno-Ecologies and Professional Development: Profiles from CCCC Certificate of Writing Excellence Awardees” which I am collaborating on with two colleagues, uses an ecologies framework to examine how technology professional development and teacher training are implemented at various universities. The project seeks to provide profiles of the professional development options, with the goal of providing models for other programs and of developing best practices for technology teacher training and professional development. To collect data, the research team, including myself, will be visiting 6 programs during 2018 to interview various stakeholders, and to collect artifacts and observational data. We have applied for a CCCC Emerging Researcher Grant to support the work of this project.

This larger project is the fourth phase of a longer-term project that included a 2011 survey of Rhetoric and Composition doctoral programs, whose results were presented at NCTE in 2011 and published in a special issue of Pedagogy in 2015; a literature review of professional documents from NCTE, CCCC, TYCA, WPA and MLA published between 1971-2014, with a close reading of 73 documents that was presented on at the Thomas R. Watson Conference in 2016 and CCCC in 2017; and a pilot survey of the 95 programs identified by The pilot survey served as the groundwork for the project detailed above.

In addition to this larger project, I have a more localized interest in the ways students use/don’t use technology for classroom purposes. In my forthcoming (2018) Computers and Composition article, “Why Won’t Moodle?; Using Genre Studies to Understand Students’ Approaches to Interacting with User-Interfaces” I reported the results of a study conducted over three years, in which I surveyed students about their technology practices and their experiences with Moodle, our course management system (CMS). The article situates the CMS interface as a genre which students must learn to read and interact with. Further it argues that students tend to assign particular genres to school work and particular genres to non-school activities, and that they have two distinct sets of technology practices that correspond to whether they see a task or situation as school/professional or entertainment/social. I conclude that, because our CMS looks like an entertainment interface, but functions like a school/professional interface students struggle to understand the genre of the CMS. This problem is further compounded by their lack of motivation to learn about the CMS as a genre. I offer suggestions for how instructors can engage students with the CMS, including a full walk-through of the system and building assignments into the course that require engagement with the CMS.

Understanding both how teachers are prepared to teach with technology and how students are using that technology is essential to improving, not only, writing pedagogy and curricular/program design, and, but also, the experiences of teachers and students. I envision my future projects continuing to follow these themes and focus on digital technology, pedagogy, and professional development and teacher training.