Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Professors still believe in Pedagogy

I just received an e-mail from Dr. Nespor concerning my disjointed first draft of my data analysis.  It is so refreshing and also disconcerting that he actually reads drafts and gives feedback [solid, useable, concreate] about where the writing is at, where it could possibly go, and any other thoughts he has. [disconcerting because he is about the only person I've had at OSU GIVE ANY real feedback, direction, etc. in terms of writing a paper.  All I get is criticism without any guidance or direction for improvement and bad grades from my school of COMM profs].

This first draft was basically my attempt at setting the context and background for the situation of dementia in a man as told to me retrospectively by three of his daughters.  I would use language to set up the situation and then pull quotes surrounding that situation from the interviews I conducted.  I then included a section that was a literature review of the theories I thought I would be using to further make sense of the data.  Here is the e-mail I received from Dr. Nespor.  I want to academically marry this man.

Hi Katey,
Well, yours was certainly more fun to read than some of these have been!

I have a suggestion on organization and form, and also a suggestion on theory (more or less)

1)  I realize this is just a 'not all together' draft, but perhaps you might take your theme -- sense-making among intimates in situations of uncertainty (or something like that) -- and reproduce it rhetorically for the reader -- that is -- instead of telling the family's history, lay out in short anecdotes the problematic 'clues' that the daughters had (but didn't put together until after the fact):  Pose the problem for the reader -- how do you make sense of this information?  What conclusions does one draw?  Create a puzzle for them and then solve it.

2)  Theoretically -- and here I think I'll be less helpful -- a few thoughts.

--   a)  We need theories to make sense of observation (or to know what to look for). I was reading a book I got from the $1 clearance shelf at Half-Price Books last night -- a collection of essays by the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, and it has a nice quote from Charles Darwin:

About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to
observe and not theorize; and I well remember someone saying that at
this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles
and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that
all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any
In other words, you only 'see' in terms of a theory.  So perhaps the question is to delineate the 'theories of their father' that the daughters were using to make sense (prior to realizing what was going on). -- This may be a dumb suggestion and no problem if you delete it!

--   b) Think in terms of turning points -- what were the turning points/transition points/gestalt shifts where the uncertainty suddenly collapsed into realization (or was it gradual)

--   c)  I've attached a piece that may be irrelevant, making a distinction between biography and case (not the sense of 'case' I use in class to talk about case analysis).  Perhaps what's happening is that the daughters shift from understanding their father biographically to understanding him as a 'case' of something.  I'm not sure where that would go.

It's an interesting study you've got.

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