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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 45, No. 4, May 2011

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Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: Generalizability or a Thousand Points of Light? The Promises and Dilemmas of Qualitative Literacy Research

    Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior

  • Making Grammar Instruction More Empowering: An Exploratory Case Study of Corpus Use in the Learning/Teaching of Grammar

    Dilin Liu

    Abstract: Despite a long debate and the accompanying call for changes in the past few decades, grammarinstruction in college English classes, according to some scholars, has remained largely “disempowering,”“decontextualized,” and “remedial” (Micciche, 2004, p. 718). To search for more effectiveand empowering grammar teaching, this study explores the use of corpora for problem-basedlearning/teaching of lexicogrammar in a college English grammar course. This pedagogy wasmotivated by research findings that (1) corpora are a very useful source and tool for languageresearch and for active discovery learning of second/foreign languages, and (2) problem-basedlearning (PBL) is an effective and motivating instructional approach. The data collected andanalyzed include students’ individual and group corpus research projects, reflection papers oncorpus use, and responses to a post-study survey consisting of both open-ended and Likert questions.The analysis of the data found the following four themes in students’ use of, and reflectionsabout, corpus study: (1) critical understanding about lexicogrammatical and broader languageuse issues, (2) awareness of the dynamic nature of language, (3) appreciation for the context/register-appropriate use of lexicogrammar, and (4) grasping of the nuances of lexicogrammaticalusages. The paper also discusses the challenges involved in incorporating corpus use into Englishclasses and offers suggestions for further research.

  • Young People’s Everyday Literacies: The Language Features of Instant Messaging

    Christina Haas and Pamela Takayoshi, with Brandon Carr, Kimberley Hudson, and Ross Pollock

    Abstract: In this article, we examine writing in the context of new communication technologies as a kindof everyday literacy. Using an inductive approach developed from grounded theory, we analyzeda 32,000-word corpus of college students’ Instant Messaging (IM) exchanges. Through our analysis of this corpus, we identify a fifteen-item taxonomy of IM language features andfrequency patterns which provide a detailed, data-rich picture of writers working within thetechnological and situational constraints of IM contexts to creatively inscribe into their writtenconversations important paralinguistic information. We argue that the written features of IMfunction paralinguistically to provide readers with cues as to how the writing is to be understood.By writing into the language paralinguistic cues, the participants in our study work to clarify,or more precisely disambiguate, meaning. Through a discussion of four of these features—eyedialect, slang, emoticons, and meta-markings—we suggest how the paralinguistic is inscribedin IM’s language features.

  • “Rise Up!”: Literacies, Lived Experiences, and Identities within an In-School “Other Space”

    Kelly K. Wissman

    Abstract: In this article, I consider the literacy practices that emerged in an in-school elective course centeredin the literacy tradition of African American women. Drawing from spatial perspectives (Leander& Sheehy, 2004), I explore what it means to consider this course an “Other space” (Foucault,1986), as a space created without the constraints of a mandated curriculum or standardizedtest pressures and as a space informed by an understanding of the connections among literacies,lived experiences, and identities. Through the presentation and analysis of five vignettes, I considerhow the students shaped the course to their own ends and pursued agentive literacy workresonant with the epistemologies in the literacy tradition of African American women. While Isituate these contributions and literacy practices within Black feminist and postpositivist realisttheories of identities, I contend their full measure cannot be understood without a look at thephysical aspects of the space, the travel of texts into and out of it, and its relational and affectivedimensions. I conclude with considerations for pursuing literacy pedagogies attentive to socialidentities and for creating “Other spaces” within a time of standardization and testing.

  • Featured Methodological Article: Analyzing Literacy Practice: Grounded Theory to Model

    Victoria Purcell-Gates, Kristen H. Perry, and Adriana Briseño

    Abstract: In this methodological and theoretical article, we address the need for more cross-case work onstudies of literacy in use within different social and cultural contexts. The Cultural Practices ofLiteracy Study (CPLS) project has been working on a methodology for cross-case analyses thatare principled in that the qualitative nature of each case, with its layers of context and interpretivemeaning making by the researcher, is maintained while still allowing for data aggregationacross cases. We present a model of a literacy practice that emerged from this work as one that maycontribute to the work of other literacy researchers who are looking for theoretically driven waysto analyze and interpret ethnographic accounts of literacy practice on a larger scale and to answerquestions about literacy practice across studies. We describe our theoretically based coding scheme,as well as the development of a large ethnographic database of literacy practices data and thetechnical aspects of lifting ethnographic data into a large database. We also provide a descriptionof a pilot cross-case analysis as an example of the promise of such qualitative cross-case databases.

  • Guest Reviewers

  • Indexes

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