Instructor's and Students' Perceptions of the Feedback/Revison Cycle in a Freshman Writing Class
Combining case study and ethnographic research methodologies permits a rich descriptive view which reveals the context the participants’ experience as well as what and how they do what they do (Hyland, 2002; Polio, 2003). This emic approach was what was anticipated, and the difficulties experienced may well be typical of the experiences of an optimistic beginner. However, conducting qualitative research within the researcher’s own university department required patience and ethical judgment as unexpected complications arose. The projected timeline for the semester was not adhered to, and not all the students who initially agreed to take part in the research saw the process through to the end. Once the data was subjected to examination, contradictions arose between what the participating instructor set out to do and what had actually been achieved. Evidence indicated that there were discrepancies between the instructor’s assessment of the students as academically immature and the awarding of relatively high final grades. Students’ efforts were largely derided. Although the essays examined showed considerable revision, the instructor appeared not to have registered this. Some of the instructor’s dissatisfaction with the students’ performance may have been related to problems adjusting to the vastly different teaching and learning environment, a form of culture shock. Ultimately, researchers in positions of trust have to be cautious about the way they use the data they have access to, data that has been shared openly but may be damaging to a particular participant.
Keywords: Ethnographic Research, Case Study, Freshman Writing and TESOL, Feedback/Revision Cycle, Culture Shock and Teaching
Senior Instructor, Department of Writing Studies, American University of Sharjah