Posts Tagged ‘writing’

In this session, which was co-sponsored by the Library and the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR), participants explored the the challenges faced by students and faculty when integrating audio, video, images, and text into student research. Karen Gocsik, IWR faculty, shared that a student of hers once wanted to use two YouTube videos in a paper he was writing on house churches in China. The videos he selected were personal videos that appeared to be made by members of the churches, and they showed scenes that contrasted sharply with each other. Karen shared some of the problems these videos presented:

  • How does one understand the content of the videos? How do we sufficiently contextualize them in order to read them accurately?
  • Are the scenes shown in the videos representative of house churches in China, or are they anomalies?
  • How could the student incorporate the clip in his paper, similar to a block quote from a textual source, rather than just citing it as evidence?

The workshop participants contemplated these, and other questions, about incorporating multimodal sources into research papers. During the discussion, we looked at the Journal of e-Media Studies. This  freely available online journal, which is published at Dartmouth, incorporates text, audio, video, and still images in its articles in unique ways. (Example.) Participants discussed the benefits and drawbacks of this type of publication, and the ways these methods might be effective employed in the classroom.

Lastly, in an academic tradition that relies heavily on writing as the means of communication and assessment, do students have the technical and intellectual skills to effectively incorporate multimodal sources in their research? And, likewise, do faculty have the skills to assess them?

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In this workshop offered by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric and the Hood Museum of Art, Kathy Hart, (Interim Director of the Hood Museum), Lesley Wellman (Curator of Education at the Hood), Bill Nichols and Sara Chaney of IWR demonstrated how having a “closer look” at works of art can help achieve learning outcomes in writing courses.
In Writing 5, Bill Nichols assigns a major essay designed to help students get a sense of people and the places they inhabit by examining a part of the local built environment. Bill’s early experiences with this assignment were disappointing. Although the essay was assigned as a research essay, a few students wrote architectural criticism without paying much attention to what others had to say. More often, students focused exclusively on the scholarship and failed to describe their own experience with the place that was their subject. The students’ voices and experiences were absent.
To remedy this, Bill collaborated with the Hood Museum to design an exercise that would give students practice in all aspects of the assignment. The first phase of the exercise used object-based learning, a method found in many museum educational programs. Bill’s students went to the Hood, and with the aid of Lesley Wellman, learned to take a “closer look” at two paintings intentionally chosen because they depicted architectural spaces inhabited by people ­ modeling a process they could apply to real spaces. By deeply exploring these works using a variety of questions, students developed their own responses in collaboration with others. They then could take that experience and enriched with research, ultimately writing an essay.

In the excerpts Bill read from student work, it was obvious that the “closer look” assignment worked to help students incorporate their own voice/views/experiences into the larger architectural essay, weaving that knowledge together with knowledge gained from their research.

Sara Chaney shared another example of how works of art were used in her Writing 3 class. Hood folks made available photographs by several artists (e.g., Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hine) for students to study and learn how arguments are communicated using non-verbal media.

We had the opportunity to experience the “closer look” process first hand. Lesley took the group into the gallery to view and talk about McSorley’s 1912 painting, the Back Room. More information about resources for faculty and their teaching at the Hood Museum can be found here.

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yeah, it's long -- I didn't have time to make it shorter

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