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Research Journal

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One way of integrating an asynchronous element into your course is to have students create and add to one kind of document over the course of the quarter or several weeks of the quarter, such as a commonplace book or a research journal. Here, Tessa Brown shares her prompts for the Research Journal assignment in her class.

Activity title: Research Journal

Author: Tessa Brown

Course: PWR 2

Activity length and schedule: The research journal entries span the quarter (Weeks 1 through 8) and most are completed outside of class time.

Activity details:

The RJ activities begin as homework on Day 1 of class and continued through week 8. Students all create their own Google Doc where they kept all of their own Research Journal entries; as an alterative, students could complete the journal entries on  a blog. As noted below, the first two RJ entries were completed as comments on course Discussion Posts, and then they moved to their new Google Docs for RJ3.

Journal prompts:

  • RJ1 - Homework on 1.1 - Introduce yourself in more detail as a languager. What languages we speak can feel very personal, because language--as you'll read soon--is connected to power and privilege. Can you tell us more about the languages you use and the contexts in which you use them? What have you noticed about how your languaging changes in different contexts or what your different language practices mean to you?
  • RJ2 - Homework on 1.2 - 2 questions: (1) Respond to the Richardson chapter. Why do you think she used Outkast's "Whole Wide World" as her case study? What does it illustrate about hiphop discoursez that she wants her audience to understand? (2) Reflect on your own interests. What is catching your attention so far?
  • RJ3 in your new Research Journal document: Write up your googling. Describe the initial questions you are asking (they can be really simple), list the search terms you used (there should be several sets of terms you try), and add links to at least 5 pages that seem relevant and informative. Make sure to include a name for the source, not just a link. This is our first step before we move into Library research over the coming weekend.
  • RJ4: Find 5 peer-reviewed articles and see if you can identify some key concepts, questions, and scholars in the scholarly conversation around a topic you are interested in. Link to the articles on SearchWorks in your RJ and write out their author names, article title, and journal title--you can format them later. Write a few paragraphs summarizing the sources and characterizing the conversation you are discovering--are these sources citing each other or the same people, or are they coming from different disciplines? What do they have in common and what distinguishes them? Please also note what search terms you used and where your research question is now.
  • RJ4.5 (in-class). What is the status of your research question right now? Is it still really broad, or does it bring a larger question to bear on a specific site for analysis? To pick a good site, think about some of the elements of your question you'd like to focus on. What characteristics of the issue are most compelling to you? Can you try to write a more specific version of your research question that indicates a site for analysis? For example, in Thursday's class we could have asked a question like "Does Drake's sample of Lauryn Hill follow hiphop sampling ethics?" This question takes a topic of interest (hiphop sampling ethics) that we have a theoretical foundation for, and locates them in a specific site (Drake's "Nice for What") with an implied method (textual analysis, including lyrical and sonic analysis).
  • RJ5 - Homework - Read the workshop feedback you received from your classmates. In your research journal, respond to the following prompt in at least 2 paragraphs, 1+ for each part: 1) What was the feedback you received today? Do you agree or disagree with it, and why?2) What is your plan for revision? Think of revision as re-thinking and re-writing, not just surface edits. The proposal revision is due next Tuesday 5/5. Can you be as specific as possible about how you plan to revise your proposal and when  you plan to work on it over the next week?
  • RJ 6 - Spend 5 minutes writing per question. You can record somewhere private. How do you identify by age, race, class, gender, citizenship, language, sexuality, religion, dis/ability, body type, geography, style/swagger, or anything else that speaks to you? -  Based on your understanding of Stanford and our wider society, where do you experience privilege at Stanford and at home, and where do you experience oppression or marginalization? -  What languages, dialects, or discourses do you perform (in writing, speech, gesture, style)? How do those codes move through privilege and oppression in different spaces? - How is your own identity related to your research? What is at stake for you in your research? What is at stake for the community you’re studying in being studied by you? [from 5.2 class]
  • RJ7 - Pick 1 article you’re using and 1 video we’ve watched. Take notes based on the questions below, and then write a paragraph or two per my instructions below. -  How is the text structured? How does it open, develop, and close? How does it establish its exigence, that is, its relevance and importance for our attention? - How does the text establish its purposeand its argument? How does it produce knowledge, that is, what are its methods? How does it discuss findings and conclusions. - What is the rhetorical stance of the text? How does the speaker create a sense of their own authority? Are they reflexive/do they self-identify? How do they understand their audience? -  How does the text engage with evidence? Does it use citations and references? How do these reflect the conventions of the form? When you’re done taking notes on these features, Iwrite at least 1 paragraph discussing what you noticed, what you might want to emulate, and how you expect your own paper and/or video to differ from the professional examples you studied today. [From class 6.1]
  • RJ 8 - Write the answers to these questions as you discuss your work with your workshop group: What are the concepts you use in your analysis? Which sources are they from? - What did you analyze? How did you analyze it? - What insights did your analysis produce? - How do those insights intersect with the existing scholarly literature to produce a central claim? What is your claim arising from your analysis? Part 2 - Optional - Reverse Outline: Wwrite an outline of your draft, trying to be really concise. What does each paragraph argue, what does each section of the script argue? A short concise outline can be a way to look at your paper as a whole and see how its moving. [from 7.2 class]