Revolution Lullabye

January 31, 2013

Lang and Baehr, Data Mining

Lang, Susan and Craig Baehr. “Data Mining: A Hybrid Methodology for Complex and Dynamic Research.” College Composition and Communication 64.1 (September 2012): 172-194.

Lang and Baehr argue that data mining is a useful research methodology for researchers and administrators in composition and rhetoric because of its inductive nature and its ability to organize and use large sets of data.  Their article defines data mining, explains how current computer technologies make data mining an efficient and useful research tool, describes the process of data mining, gives an example of it in practice (from their work at Texas Tech), and names the limitation of the methodology.  They offer data mining as a tool for researchers to engage in a RAD research agenda, as called for by Richard Haswell and Chris Anson.  They believe that in this age of increased demand for accountability, data mining can help teachers and administrators develop better assessment techniques and argue for their programs.

Notable Notes

data mining allows for categorization, clustering, and the emergence of associations and patterns (178-179).

distinction: data mining is more inductive – the data comes first (not the hypothesis), and the findings emerge (179).

application of data mining to Chris Anson’s taxonomy of six types of research (research categories) (181-184).

example: why do students earn DFW in first-year writing? What are the factors? Data mining study at Texas Tech

limitations: the complexity and scope of the data; longitudinal studies are necessary to increase validity; it cannot completely substitute for other kinds of research methodology; quantitative methods aren’t as accepted in the field (190-191).

data mining process: (185-186)

  1. identify the problem(s)
  2. select raw source of data
  3. decide what measures or criteria to apply to the data
  4. develop a formal procedure (a repeatable process) for sifting through the data
  5. interpret the results

Quotable Quotes

“Data mining is the iterative process of systematically interpreting, organizing, and making meaning from data sources” (191).

“The increasingly accoutnability-focused climate of higher education demands that we at least begin to explore the use of data-mining technologies” (184).

“Data and text mining extend these activities beyond what is possible for us to do as individuals without the assistance of computer technology, as large amounts of numeric or textual data can be examined for various types of relationships, including classes, clusters, associations, and patterns” (178).

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March 25, 2009

Gouge, Conversation at a Crucial Moment

Gouge, Catherine. “Conversation at a Crucial Moment: Hybrid Courses and the Future of Writing Programs.” College English 71:4 (March 2009) 32-362.

WPAs need to anticipate, not react, to moves to create online courses and curriculum in their writing programs. By anticipating, they will be able to retain control over the design and assessment of the courses, a design and assessment that should reflect the goals of the entire program, not just respond to the constraints of the technology of online teaching. Gouge contests the idea that assessment in hybrid courses is more objective than in face-to-face courses by looking particularly at the hybrid courses offered through Texas Tech in its ICON (Interactive Composition Online Program). Gouge’s article includes a brief section of the origins of online teaching – pointing out that it has its roots in centuries-old correspondance studies – and explains both the advantages and disadvantages of “hybrid” courses.

Quotable Quotes

“There is no such thing as value-free, objective hierarchy of power, even if that power is distributed” (relates to assessment in online courses.) (355).

“In spite of ICON’s best intentions to provide students wiht a fairer assessment process and in spite of its explicit claims of the possibility of objectivity in evaluation, the structure of the evaluating process ultimately undermines these claims and asserts the value of the subjective position of the classroom instructor – the instructor with the knowledge and experience to make him or her a final authority. The result is a program that propagates the myth that ‘fairer grading’ means that students should be evaluated objectively. However, the result is also a hybrid program structure that undermines what it purports to value and values what its structure is claimed to have been designed to prevent” (356).

“We need to be careful not to allow the technology to structure our programs, even if our programs are being restructured to incorporate the best uses of new technologies. Writing programs ought to be designed such that the program structure supports the logic of the rhetorical processes that the program intends to teach students” (342).

Notable Notes

with hybrid courses – lead with the values of the program

WPAs have the responsibility to teach themselves about online teaching to act as the best advocates and designers for their programs

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