Overview This self study project is designed to facilitate your understanding of the Unit 1 threshold concepts: (1) Language and writing are resources we use to do, make, and be things in the world, and (2) Effective or meaningful writing is achieved through sustained engagement in literate practices and through revision. You will research and analyze your writing practices with the goal of reaching several critical insights about how you use language and writing resourcefully in your life. The project asks you to use field research to collect information, or data, that you will examine to discover interesting ideas about your writing practices in a particular writing situation. Through the various processes of collecting and analyzing data, drafting, revising, and reflecting, you will encounter the foundational idea that “effective or meaningful writing is achieved through sustained engagement in literate practices and through revision.” Purpose The main purpose of the project is to raise awareness of and think critically about the work your writing does for you and for your intended audiences. For the next several weeks, you’ll look closely at how you use or have used writing in order to communicate, think, and act. To meet your purpose, you will use auto-ethnographic research methods (studying yourself) in order to analyze a writing situation in which you regularly participate or have participated in the past. Then, you will write a 1000-1200 word portrait of yourself as a writer in a particular writing situation. Your portrait should discuss key insights about how you use, or have used, writing as a resource in your life. To study yourself as a resourceful writer, you may choose one of the three research focuses to guide your self study: 1 What has been my process in this writing situation? Why does this process work to meet my purpose with my audience? What is it about my process that could be strengthened in this writing situation? What have I learned about myself as a writer by studying my process in this writing situation? 2 How do I portray my identity in this writing situation? Why? What purpose does this portrayal serve with my audience? What characteristics of the writing work to develop my persona? What have I learned about myself as a writer by studying how I’ve portrayed myself in this writing situation? 3 What are the features, strategies, or moves I make in this writing situation? How do they help me meet my purpose with my audience? What have I learned about myself as a writer by studying the features, strategies, and moves I make in this particular writing situation? You must use three auto-ethnographic data collection methods in your study. Everyone will be required to use the first method: gathering textual artifacts. For this method, you will collect at least three related texts that you’ve produced (e.g., notes to friends, emails/letters to family members, academic writing, Facebook updates, work-related writing, personal blog posts, lists, creative writing, visual essays, etc.). While these textual artifacts don’t have to be from the same genre (although they can be), there does need to be some kind of commonality among them (e.g., a common function, audience, or context of use). After you’ve collected your textual artifacts, you’ll collect data using two other methods. Other methods will be covered in a screencast later in this unit, and you’ll choose the methods that make sense for your project. All of your data must be submitted with your final portrait. Along with your portrait, you’ll submit a 250-300 word essay that reflects on your process for completing the self study. In this brief essay, reflect on 1) how the project challenged you as a writer, 2) how you responded to the challenge, and 3) how you can use what you’ve learned while completing this project in future writing situations? Audience Your instructor and peers will read and offer feedback on your portrait but you should write a project that people outside this course might find interesting and insightful. In this sense, you should write your project with an external audience in mind: readers who are not enrolled in this class. One place that all writers can immediately demonstrate their attention to their audiences is in their introductions. You should think about how you can use your introduction to “frame” your discussion about writing in ways that will be interesting to readers outside of this class. ¥ How will you use your introductory paragraph as a resource for audience engagement? How will you bring your readers into a critical yet interesting discussion about writing?
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