Revolution Lullabye

August 23, 2012

Cambridge, Research and Policy: Antithetical or Complementary?

Cambridge, Barbara. “Research and Policy: Antithetical or Complementary?” WPA 35.1 (Fall/Winter 2011): 135-147.

Cambridge uses her experience meeting with the Secretary of Education Duncan with other NCTE representatives to reflect on the relationship between research and policy-making in the US and to call on compositionists and writing program administrators to use their expertise in writing teaching and learning to impact educational policy.

Cambridge resists the notion that legislators don’t listen or don’t care about writing research; she cites examples from studies done on the impact of research on policy to show that legislators and policy-makers are working in a complex political situation, so that their decisions do not always mesh with what we in the field think should happen. The research Cambridge cites does show that legislators do relies on “intermediaries”: trusted sources of research-based information on public policy issues.  Cambridge argues that writing program administrators and compositionists can become these intermediaries and impact public policy decisions if 1. we craft long-term, trusted relationships with policy makers; 2. become knowledgable about policy issues and build those into our research agenda so that we can give pertinent information in a timely manner so we become “go-to” experts; 3. teach public writing in our composition classroom so that our students have “rhetorical agency in the current political climate” (143); 4. argue for changes in tenure guidelines that count policy research and public policy work as research, not service; and 5. understand and communicate to others how important research is to policy work.

Notable Notes

Bogenschneider and Corbett study: how sound research affects policy: “allocations – altering how resources are distributed; tactics – altering how policies and programs are designed; solutions – altering how policies and programs are pursued; framework – altering how we basically think about certain social issues; salience – altering how much importance we give an issue; awareness – altering even how we think about doing policy” (qtd. 293) (146)

importance of narration in public writing and rhetoric. The Common Core has de-emphasized narration in favor of argumentation. Does that really prepare our students for being effective citizens in a democracy? What is lost? (144)

know your legislator = knowing your audience. It’s basic rhetorical strategy.

timeliness is key – research isn’t valuable unless it’s available as (or before) decisions are being made.

Quotable Quotes

“Unless colleges and universities wake up to the crisis in our political system; acknowledge their responsibility to address it in multiple ways, including figuring out how to generate and communicate research that applies to the system; and value those of its faculty members and administrators who develop expertise in that responsibility, colleges and universities are failing the society in which they operate.” (146).


May 31, 2009

Erikson et al, A Web We Can Weave

Erikson, et al. “A Web We Can Weave: Considering Open Source Technologies in Our Classrooms.” Comupters and Composition. (Spring 2009)

This collaborative article, written by Erikson and his graduate studetns, investigates different Web 2.o interfaces and technologies the authors (who took a grad seminar class with Erikson) used in the seminar and also in their teaching. Erikson argues that it’s important for those in composition and rhetoric to become familiar with and be able to use the many Web 2.0 technologies students are using, the technologies that are part of their everyday litearcy activities. Drawing on Selber’s three-part literacy framework, Erikson advocates for more productive, rhetorically literate assignments and classroom teaching practices to make composition more relevant and answerable to the multiliteracy needs of today’s students. The graduate students each wrote a section about a different technology – YackPack, Facebook, GoogleDocs & GoogleGroups, podcasting, and wikis.

Quotable Quotes

“the use of Google and many other tools of the digital age are an integral part of the history of literacy in Western culture; to ignore this fact and to bridge the gap between students as digital natives and faculty as digital immigrants certainly calls the question about which group is truly more ignorant and less literate”

Questions teachers need to ask before adopting a Web 2.0 technology: 

What are my course goals for using this technology?
What goals can this technology help me accomplish?
What do I want my students to do with technology?
What are the ethical questions to consider when implementing any new media technology into the writing classroom?
How can I expect my student population to respond to new media?
Are there issues of access, funding, literacy, time, or space that I need to examine beforehand?

“the constant reminder that these tools were the ones in use by our students, and lest we consider those irrelevant to the concerns of English studies in general and Rhetoric and Composition in particular, we can only turn to the current national election process to see the role of tools like YouTube in the candidate debates, blogs in disseminating political views by pundits and citizens alike, and how can one forget Barack Obama’s early morning text message to his supporters about his Vice Presidential choice. Because these tools are ones in the hands of today’s students, defined as digital natives (Prensky, 2001), they should be ones worthy of functional, critical, and particularly rhetorical literacy education within graduate programs in Rhetoric and Composition, not only to transform the undergraduate writing curriculum but also to change the presumption that all academic discourse is print in nature, particularly in light of concerns by the Modern Language Association (2006) about the crisis in scholarly publishing and the impact on print production processes as well as on the academic reward system for faculty caught within the paradigm shift between the print and the digital.”

Notable Notes

see what the students are using and use that – don’t just rely on Blackboard because it’s safe and easy

great YouTube video by Michael Wesch at Kansas State University

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