Saturday, April 4, 2009


Vitanza is concerned with the writing of history and its relationship with ideology. He contends that "there is no escape whatsoever from ideology" identifying "common sense" as an often overlooked type along with clarity and coherence. The main thrust of his article centers on the assertion that the writing of history is always in some way ideological and how this impacts the writing of the history of rhetoric.

He identifies three major historigraphical categories:

1) Traditional Historiography -narrative events/ beginning-middle-end, Man is the agent of history (85)Documentary style / archival - based on documents, write from POV that documents are not influenced by ideology - law like explanations - written and interpreted along ideological lines
A. History that has "time" (narrative) as a major category -
B. History that does not emphasize time or man as a major category

2) Revisionary (correction centered) Historiography - addresses wrong interpretation of facts or accomodates previously undisclosed facts
A. Full disclosure -rewriting of history with primary purpose of "the full disclosure of the facts" (95)- the partial representation added to so as to create a whole
B. Self Conscious Critical Practices - distrust and interrogation of one's own (ideologically embedded)consciousness - recognition of one's own relationship with language and its implications.

3) Sub/versive Historiography - nonlinear - rhizomatic -POV multiplicity, critically conscious, nondisciplinary, dialectically based, non-selfexpressive, opposes history as knowledge, against history as reminiscent or for recognition,history as not representative of tradition(111-112)

Zappen: Revisionist - self conscious critical practice
Zappen discusses the historiography of scientific rhetoric with regards to Francis Bacon. He delves into the predominate interpretations of Bacon's work pointing out how the assertions made within these interpretations were based on specific underlying ideology. He then puts forth his own interpretation (86)but is quick; however, to qualify it by stating that his interpretation is not the end all be all and that indeed it must be taken only as a "suggestion"

Corbett: Traditional Historiography
In this article Corbett ties contemporary business and professional communication with classical rhetoric.
It is told from a POV that documents are not influenced by ideology which is additionally supported by his own lack of referencing the ideology that underscores his own writing.

Howard: Revisionary - Full Disclosure
In discussing the history of copyright and it's current place within electracy Howard work discusses and clarifies our relationship with copyright as a priviledge. In re-establishing this relationship he in fact "revises" wrong interpretations of copyright laws that are held by the majority.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

True/Quasi Experiments and Quant Descriptive Studies

Lauer and Asher:
True Experiment:
Special type of experimental design in which the researcher actively intervenes systematically to change or withhold or apply treatement (or several) to determine what its effect is on criterion variables.
It's istinctive feature is the use of randomization by which subjects are allocated to treatment and control groups
When researchers cannot randomize groups - QUASI experiments are useful
- They enable cause / effect claims
- They have subject, treatments, an criterios - the same as true experiments
- No randomization of subjects but use of already intact groups
- Must have one pretest or prior set of observations on the subjects to determine in groups are qual or not on specific variavles tested in pretest
- Requires research desgin hypothesis to account for ineffective treatments and threats to internal validity.
Two types of Qausi experiments -
Weak - initially unequal groups
Strong - have equal groups - based on those variables tested in the pretest
Qauntitative Descriptive Studies:
Goes beyond case studies and ethnographies (how? it uses statistics to evaluate the data collected) to isolate sysematically the most important variables developed by these studies - define them further - quantify them - and interralate them -
Researchers -
- observe certain defines and quantifies variables for a large number of subjects over short time or short intervals of time
- Correlate variables by statistical means - Chi square / Phi coefficient / t-tests / multivariate analysis
- Descriptive - b/c there are no control groups
- Not able to make cause - effect claims
Research / Purpose
To determine which barriers are perceived to be the most frequently encountered that may affect listening effectiveness among business college students and to expand the Watson and Smeltzer study.
Questions :
- What specific listening barriers do stuents perceive as the most frequent
- What are the listening barriers factors among stuents
- How do the listening barrier factore differ based on selected stuent demographic variables.
Subject Selection:
All attended a major southwest university
81 percent were majors in the college of business : majors were General business and Finance
Males between 19 - 21
Data Collection:
Given instructions on various listening concepts
attended the business communication lecture then attended breakout sections on another day
10 of the 33 breakout sections were selected through random sampling
- Each student complete questionaire containing barriers to effective listening
Asked to indicate their perception of the frequency of each barrier that may inhibit or impede listening
Data Analysis:
279 questionairs were collected and used in analysis - statistical analysis system (SAS) was used to analyze the data
5 largest barriers - lack of interest , daydreaming, distraction, concentrating on speaker's mannerisms, deatouring

Purpose / Research
Investigates how new subjects in science and technology are represente in popular media. - Examines initial construction of nanoscale science and technology in written popular media.
Subject selection:
Public media that discusses nanoscalescience and technology
More specifically articles found in the proquest database
Data Collection:
Lit review
Data Analysis:
Divided articles up into newpaper / journal / etc
Examine propositional content of each article and grammatical structure
Developed interpretive categories of theme, rheme,topic, representation
The clause - was unit of analysis - all other categories influence the meaning and structure of the clause
process of presentice tenical info for general audiences is enables by combining social and technical approaches

Notarantonia and Cohen Quasi
Purpose / Research:
Utilizes Dominance and Openness in terms of perceived communicator style and sales effectiveness
Subject Selection:
Undergraduate business administration stuents enrolled at Bryant College. 80 in all.
41.3 - male
58.7 female
Age range - 17 - 21 y.o. - 73% 18 y.o.
92.1 % freshman

Data Collection:
four video tapes - pretested for openness/dominance categorization (175)
Subjects - completed self-report of Norton's communicator style measure then shown video tape - Questionaire

Data Analysis:
Two way - anovas(likert) - with openness and dominance as independent variables
Group answers compiled and analysed in terms of the video tape they were shown (results on pg 176)

Kroll Quasi
Research / Purpose
Explore the patterns of thought and language that characterize growth in informative writing ability across junior and senior highschool years. (198)
Subject Selection:
students from 4 schools in a small city in central Iowa and freshman at Iowa State University.
24 - 5th grade; 26 - 7th grade; 19 - 9th grade; 27 - 11th grade; 27 college freshman
All were enrolled in an English class; all had average school achievement for their ages, all native speakers (198)

Data Collection:
students told their task of writing directions about the game; instructional film shown twice; students given time to write instructions; given (pretested) m/c quiz upon completion of instructions to ensure they understood the rules of the game.(201)
Data Analysis:
Only analysed the directions of those students able to demonstrate they understood the basic rules for playing the game.
2 raters - interrater reliability - .92 for instructions / researcher rated college students response contrasted with second rater.
Analyzed based on essential / clarifying information
chi-square test / z-statistics /anova

Caroll Minimal Manual - usability testing True experiment
Research / Purpose:Emperically developed training manual for word processing functions of popular commerical office information system
Connection b/n learning purpose - training manuals -integration of learning objectives with realistic tasks for learners (75) Will this be successful?

Data Collection:
Observation (81-83)
Experiment 1 - Experiment 2 - ability to complete tasks
treatment - their manual or a standar manual
Subject Selection:
Prescreen/test - 19 in first /32 in second experiment ensured equality across groups.
Data collection:
- observation of users performing typical tasks (81)

Data Analysis:
First Experiment: Times to complete tasks were compared b/n their manual and the other
Second experiment: Anova two way scale of variance comparison b/n their manual and a standard manual with regards to task completion and preformance efficiency

Friday, February 27, 2009


Doheny - Faria
To investigate the relationship between social(non academic)context, writing, and community formation
Research Questions:
1. In a given non academic setting how are writer's conceptions of rhetorical
situation formulated over time?
2. How do writers [erceptions of their social and organizational contexts influence
the formulation of these conceptions of rhetorical situations?
3. What are the social elements of writer's composing processes?
4. How do writers' perceptions of their organizational contexts influence these
5. How do writing processes shape the organizational structure of an emerging

Subjects Selection:
Microware Inc founded in January 1982. Chosen b/c this corporate community was still in development meaning that writing procedures were not fixed as you might find in established long standing companies. (focus was on 5 top executives mainly and the writing on the creation of the business plan document)

Data Collection:
Obervation 5 days a week over eight months. In increments of 1 - 8 hrs.
Information collected during formal and informal staff mtgs., hall ways, and open areas.
Data Collected:
1. Field notes - obesrvation / theoretical, methodological
2. Tape recorded mtgs
3. interveiws - open ended - history of company
40 interviews - discourse - comparing drafts of busines plan

Data Analysis:
Data review chronologically
Categorized / coded
based on theoretical framework (i.e. ethos) and particulars of behaviour surrounding the creating of the document specific to this ethnographic research(i.e. content related revisions and stylistic choices) The categories were tied to the major theme (influence of context of rhetorical process) and sub theme (community building and the rhetorical process)
Findings placed in contrast with earlier studies in order to expand on them.

Potential problems: Implications for teaching is premature - more evidence is needed
for such assertions. This point is acknowledged in a round about way in the conclusion section whic states its limits of generalizability. In addition, there is a problem with subject under study in that it was business that was atypical in that it was facing potential bankrupcy

Looking at the socialization process of becoming productive member in a specified discourse community.
Research Questions:
1) What differentiated simpler from more complex and higher status writing tasks?
2) What determines writers' social roles in this particular community of proactice
3) What methods of socialization were used for writers new to this organization and to what effect.

These questions feed into broader questions of social issues in the writing environment that effect learning socially defined roles and the impact of those roles on learning.

Subject Selection:
Chosen from larger ethnographic study about writing in nonprofit organization. Subject names : Pam and Ursula frin Job Resource Center. Good writers / newcomers / greatest change to writing duties/roles during the year of the ethnographic study.

Data collected: 1 yr duration
weekly audiotaped conversations (interviews - w/ subjects and with executive directors/experienced writers inside and outside JRC), photocopies of writing they produced weekly - drafts and revisions / observation / field notes /
interviews - open ended and discourse based -composing process/textual decisions/ rhetorical awareness

Data Analysis:
Categorized- via pattern identification / triangulation - 1) different data sources with one another 2) comparing different responses over time from informants 3) soliciting informant's response to drafts of the research report.
Findings were appropriately limited to study as there was a total population of 4 which made generalizability not possible.

Findings are : text heirarchies / knowledge play into social role acclimation and advancement.
Apprentice advancement application to university based writing practices should be explored as well as businesses made aware that acclimation of writers into the writing community of the organization is a long standing process and not a one day seminar.

Strong argument due to extensive triangulation with other studies and theories.

Standardization practices within writing reveal instabilities in writing and also points to how such practices support "taste" and in doing so power heirarchies

Subject Selection:
90 seventh graders at Sander's Middle School (SMS)working on "the building project". From economically challenged families and half of whom did not do well in school or on tests. Focused primarily on groups within which were the four students she had good rapport with.

Data collected:
Extrapolated from larger 8 mth project. The building project has a duration of 2 mths.
Data: audiotapes classroom and group discussions (transcripted), videos, student writing, field notes, texts students drew from to create their speech, community surveys, interviews

Data analysis:
first level - Speech and writing coded/charted across trajectory of: production/consumption/distrubution
Second Level - Examined forces the shaped composition (353) The identifying of Unifying and Stratifying forces - Questions used: what were the standardizing forces at work in students' writing? What were the forces that stratified?

Findings: unifying forces: explicit teaching and genre memory. Students appropriation of essay form - played up emotional appeal; covered up contradictions/conflict(362) by emphasizing "we" and downplaying contradicting info; intertextual/interdiscursive alliances - students dismissal and use of information available to them - dependent on strategy used by instructor to present to them and personal choice.
No generalizability - and within study there was a limitation to how the conclusions could be applied given that the writing/speeches dealt with came about under varying processes(367)

Problem: Environment under investigation was not natural in that it stemmed from the researcher's own suggestion.

Ellis descriptive - evocative/emotional autoethnography
Retelling of her experience during 9/11 and its immediate aftermath so as to encourage others to tell their stories in order to find personal and collective meaning in the aforementioned events.
Self and peripherally - her family members with whom she interacted during 9/11 and its immediate aftermath

Data: recollection of events

Data Analysis:
Bateson's framing and Goffman's frame analysis.(395)Calls for one to look closesly at the elements that create a scene with emphasis on the meaning one ascribes to each element.

Ellis' retelling and analysis (framing) of own experience exemplifies what she hopes others will do so that an individual and collective meaning of the 9/11 events can occur. generalization limited to subject of study

Anderson Decriptive -analytic autoethnography

research/purpose: to clarify the potential and promise of analytic autoethnographic research (rooted in symbolic interactionism) as a legitimate qualitative research tool by laying out its 5 key features (descriptive).

realist autoethnography texts, history of ethnography via - studies and theoretical scholarship based on practices with regards to autoethnography, sociology, and emperical research.
Data analysis:
realist autoethnographic texts evaluated in terms of features they best exemplify out of the 5 key features of analytic autoethnography practices. In addition analytic autoethnography practices and benefits are evaluated through triangulation with practices refered to under data.

Findings: Analytic autoethnography - requires community immersement in a way that can monopolize time and possibly sacrficice field note taking(389)however it allows for the searching out of relationships b/n different social and personal variables which can contribute, in a more weighted way than evocative autoethnography, to qualitative research pursuits.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Surveys and Sampling

Surveys are a type of descriptive research that allow researchers to focus on a few variables within a sample, a smaller yet representative group, of the larger population. In this way, surveys enable researchers to collect decriptive information about readily observed or recalled behaviour within a large group or population of compositions, courses, teachers, or classrooms in terms of the sample.

In surveys, the subjects under investigation are referred to as a sample. In order to determine which subjects will be part of the sample one must:
1) Determine large population from which sample's to be drawn
2) Determine size and type
*takes into consideration (confidence limits / precision- what degree of
imprecision is acceptable?)
Once the previous 2 points have been addressed one can go on with the actual selection of the individual subjects.

Random sampling : easiest - often referred to as the best way
* number the population (adhering to rules for listing)
* consult the chart of random # to draw sample - which involves - point at which
researcher will start table, direction of reading
**Charts can also be made by calculator or computer with random number function**

Systematic Random Sampling
* Must have ordered/organized subjects (interval unit) in place.
* Observations to start at point picked at random in the ordered unit
* Must examine population for any natural or planned order in it
* Complete population must be accounted for. size of population/size of sample
unit = desired sample size.

Quota Sampling
* A population and known characteristics are identified and then samples picked
that have corresponding characteristics
* Helpful when one knows percentage of incidence of specific features (such as
sex / race/ etc) of a population

Stratified Samples
* Used when some part of population are of more interest than others.
* Main population stratified - researcher focuses on strata of most interest
* Allows for a closer look at specific characteristics within a population
* Potential downfall - Due to size of strate in comparison to population and the
other strata, confidence limits may exceed that which is acceptable for

Cluster Samples
* For use when one wants to study individual units within a large populaiton but
doesn't want random b/c of potential difficulties with other variables.
* AVOID unless you have a statician to aid as a consultant.

Data can be collected using almost any type of data collection methods. It can be collected in the form of questionnaires, paper collection, interviews, test results, etc. (63) In the case of questionnaires and surveys there are two type of questions one might use: open ended or objective scored questions (aka multiple choice)

objective scored questions are succint, easy to analyze, standardize, and comparable whereas open ended questions are longer in length, allow more variance in the response, are less predetermined, more difficult to analyze, and can be limited by writing ability and time of person filling it out.

If one chooses to use questionaires or surveys the following must be adhered to:
Editting and revising questions for directness, simplicity, clarity by way of
* Submitting them for review by others
* Using a small pilot sample of population for review of intial responses

It is important to kp in mind the common problems of open ended questions - ambiguity, asks information that respondent doesn't have/know, poses suspicious questions.

Once the information is collected analysis can ensue.
One must determine the number of variables represented as a "K" and the number of
sample units (aka number of subjects within sample) represented as n.
Their relationship is plotted using a rectangular matrix.

It should be noted that "n" will by much larger than "k" b/c one wants to study a few features of a large group that's been reduced to a sample.

The analysis of information collected from a sample depends on the type of information collected.
Three types of data that can be collected are: nominal, interval, and rank order.
Nominal - simple counting and/or percentages (easiest to table)
*Type of nominal is frequency data - percentage and proportion
(more convenient for sampling studies)
Interval: come from test scores w/ large number of items, ratings, grades (can calculate confindence limits or precision of results (More difficult to table)
Rank order - type of interval - subjects/compositions/teachers placed in heirarchal order and assigned ranks from 1 - n (equal intervals are ASSUMED)

One can analyze data collected in terms of range / standard deviation/ variance
Range : (highest score of a variable - lowest score of a variable)
Standard deviation = to 1/5 ti 1/6 of the range
Variance : measure of differences b/n scores - square of standard deviation

for nominal data expressed in percentages - standard deviation is derived from mean
for interval data - precision related to standard deviation on variables of population.

Generalizations can only be made from sample to the group that the sample represents. In doing so, the generalization must account for the confidence limits of the variable(s) under investigation.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Case Studies

Case studies, a type of qualitative research, examine and analyze segments of whole situations as they occur in order to identify new variables and questions for further research. Subjects are selected based on their relation to the theory or hypothesis that fuel the purpose of the case study. For example Graves chose 8 students that she felt best represented the community she was attempting to gain information about. Likewise, Brandt interviewed individuals who among other things were born in a specific timeframe, and Hayes and Flower chose 4 subjects that exemplified the categories of writer's they wished to study.

data is collected in a number of ways. For example Emig gathered information from several sources: conversations and tape recording among other things. Hayes and Flower collected information via their subjects writing and also through questions asked of the subjects directly during the research process, Brandt observed writing sessions, executed interviews and collected other records related to the subjects.

Analyzing of the data results in category development and coding.This can be done via the "General Inquirer" or the "writer's work bench". Category development can also result from researchers imposing thier theory onto the data collected or from the data and theory/hypothesis shaping each other.

In the end : generalizations are difficult with the use of case studies. Often case studies result in information that can only be stated to be applicable to those that were studied and suggest further research in the area; however, a study that incorporates and builds on older studies such as Flower and Hayes increases the generalization of the information that results from the study.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Woes of Internet Research

When I think internet I think panopticon; however, instead of there being a single point of view from which all parts are visible there are multiple.

It is this multi-angled view, a characteristic of the internet, that impacts the way in which researchers deal with human subjects.

What is private or public behaviour?
When can/does covert observation take place?

The "common rule" a federal regulation involved with "the protection of human subjects" proves to serve as the primary source of problematic issues related to internet research. It is as such because of the inherent ambiguity in definition of the public and the private on the internet.

The blurred boundaries of that which is private and that which is public affect the process of informed consent, the assesment of risks involved, and the protocol a research project must establish in protecting the privacy of an individual with regards to their rights to personal privacy and the confidentiality of the data which they provide.

In essence, the basic ethical principles, as described in the "Belmont Report", come into question when utilizing the internet, especially with regards to "respect for persons" and "beneficence" as described in the aforementioned. It is as such simply because the internet was not accounted for during the development of the Belmont document.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Difference between validity and reliability? Both are social and impact each other but do NOT determine one another

Reliability is involved with the issue of whether the results are replicable or not (is it consistent) and whether the parts (if there are sub-parts to a measurement) add up to the same results as the whole -> This last part looks into the consistency of the sub-parts relation with the overall measurement.

Validity: has to do with the truth of the measurement. Does the measurement accurately account for the phenomenon it is attempting to quantify (this has to do with interpretation of the results as well). Another way to state it is: How accurately does the measurement account for the phenomenon. Does the measurement fit the task and result in an accurate account of what is being measured?

Potential Problems:
Evaluation of validity requires outside standard to be in place - objective/subjective
Evaluation of reliability requires comparison of the measure with itself - can be answered

Probability : Associated with the null hypothesis and relative to descriptive and sampling statistics. It is the area demarcated by the aforementioned parameters that are set up to determine the certitude of a research hypothesis.

Significance: Related to probability, it is a value region that demarcates the grounds upon which a researcher rejects a null hypothesis or rather a hypothesis that depends on "laws of chance." If x(probability value) falls within this region, then the research hypothesis is thought to be acceptable for reasons other than laws of chance operating.

Empirical Research: systematic research methodology that is planned, data is collected systematically, and reported data and methods with its findings.

A. observes and analyzes activities

B. Projects that are predominately quantitative rely heavily on collecting data that can be

counted and statistically analyzed.

C. Usually seeks to answer

1. What details best describe something such as a person, event, or community?

2. To what degree are two phenomena related to each other?

3. Is there a casual relationship between two phenomena?

Qualitative: (observations/logical processing)

Answers questions about process and description: ethnography, case study, descriptive

-To observe notable features/variables in situation

-No "treatment" or created environment. sample observed as is.

-documentation - written evidence

-archival records: original records - charts maps etc

-interviews/ surveys

-direct observation

-participant observation

Quantitative : (weights/measures)

-Experimental - manipulates variables /aspects/situations and attempts to relate them to one another

random sampling

-Introduction of treatment - predefined relationships of variables

-use of control group for comparing subjects to

-there are also Quasi-groups when sampling isnt random

-focus on isolated variables in a structured situation based in un-natural conditions

Problems with Quantitative : In spite of the perception of the power of numbers to persuade, some audiences distrust numbers; some audiences suspect researchers of bias; some audiences believe that results are not applicable because scientific methods lose sight of the human element; and carrying out an empirical project usually has a high cost in dollars and time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week 1 - Modes

Chapters 3 of Hackos and Redish is a description according to Kinneavy’s modes of discourse. It is descriptive because it:

“Report(s) on the reality as if it were not involved in a change.” (7) – The reality is in the form of still shot descriptions of actions to be done during the course of task analysis
In addition, the task analysis chapter allows one “to identify that thing that has been described” (7).It does so by defining what a specific act associated with task analysis is and how it relates to the overall process.

As no one mode is pure, the task analysis chapter incorporates narrative and classification as support for the actions it is describing. Narrative is seen throughout the chapter as italicized examples that work to both display the dynamic nature (moving from potential to actual) of the activities to take place and to move the chapter onto the next subject of description.

Classification is seen in descriptions of the class characteristics that enables “discourse about…individuating characteristics” aka description to be discussed (13).

Chapter 4 of Hackos and Redish works as a narrative in that it allows reality (the user’s environment(s)) to be considered as dynamic. It does so, by demonstrating how the user environment acts upon the process of product design. The narrative is supplemented by description of the different types of environments.

Garret’s “Meet the Elements” chapter works to describe what the elements in the user experience field are with regards to two differently defined sets/categories: that of software interfaces and that of information spaces.
The chapter first depicts a subset of characteristics by which each element can be identified (describing) and then relates it to a larger set of identifiers within either the software interface group or the hypertext info space group (classification).
In addition, it uses narrative to explain the process by which the groups were formed and how ultimately the elements act upon the user’s experience.

Carolyn Miller’s article is one based on the evaluation of specific types of approaches to technical writing. This is seen in its backward looking acts of “narrating” what has been done, assumed, and observed in the field of tech writing in order to show its faults so as to propose a new way of approaching tech writing that requires simultaneous engagement with and critical questioning of non-academic writing curriculum/practices.
In order to carry out her evaluation she uses narrative and description modes to define and problematize her topic area.

Plato's Phaedrus:
Is also based on evaluation though not as overtly as Millers in that quite a bit of it was, as Curtis stated in his post, "overrun with narrative". In addition, it was also quite preoccuppied with description and classification. What we have here is masterful dialectic that requires the wedding of the four modes in a way so as to entertain while instructing.