Sunday, November 11, 2012
Analysis Chapter -- Here I Come!
I think I am making progress! Well, at least I am down to the final two chapters of the dissertation! As you can see from the video below, this morning I first had to do a quick refresher as to what I need to accomplish here in the Analysis Chapter (Chapter 5 for me). This past week, I finally completed the Results Chapter (Chapter 4) and now I need to take that next big step -- why is what I found important?
So as the above video suggests, this important chapter is perhaps one of the key parts of my overall discussion -- Why should someone care about what I discovered? What is the significance of my findings? According to Dr. Cheryl Lentz (the prof in the video above), I need to accomplish four tasks in this chapter: (1) Interpret the raw data that I discuss in chapter four, (2) return to the original purpose of my study as a whole, (3) integrate and bring these chapters together, and (4) offer recommendations for further study (though I think I may be completing this fourth task in my conclusion instead). In essence, I need to "complete the story" of my research.
And so that is what I will be doing for the next two weeks -- my goal is to have this chapter completed by Thanksgiving, leaving me only one chapter to complete (the conclusion!). What scares me the most about writing up my analysis is that I am not 100% that what I have to say is all that important anyway. I have snippets of notes all over the place (completely disorganized!) and what I need to do is to try and bring all those notes together into one cohesive discussion. On some level, I think I have been afraid to do this 100% because it is here, in this chapter, that I feel like the validity (or lack thereof) of my study will FINALLY see the light of day! What if I don't have anything interesting to report after spending years of my life dedicated to this study?
So I guess I need to start with small steps. What follows is one thought about what to include in my analysis chapter:
I know that I discovered on interesting "thing" with my data coding -- students who expressed rhetorical "linguistic moves" that I would consider "lower level" also sometimes expressed rhetorical "linguistic moves" that were (a bit) higher-level. So, in other words, it is difficult to make a blanket statement about the quality of critical thinking in a student's written response because -- if you looked closely enough -- you could see something interesting that was being accomplished in the "small moves" that a student was making.
For example, Aaron in the Day Class wrote a statement that I categorized as "Treading Writing," In one sentence of a paragraph he submitted: "No single person holds any more God given value than another." As I mention in my methodology, this sort of sentence refers to an easy or simple explanation for the resolution of difficult racial issues. In other words, Aaron is expressing the idea that "God" is the "one" solution" to racial difficulties and if we all just got on board with this kind of thinking then racial issues would simply dissolve and not be a societal concern anymore. However, just before the above sentence from Aaron, he wrote, "I recognize that there is undoubtedly a problem with racism in the U.S." Aaron's use of the word "undoubtedly" is interesting -- he recognizes on some level that unquestionably the idea of race is something that is still wrestled with and unresolved in our country. Thus, I categorized this sentence as "Acknowledging Writing," a sentence that reflects the knowledge that complexities are inherent in a concept like "race" -- indeed, there is a step towards critical thinking in terms of what Aaron was trying to write. What is so interesting, of course, is that Aaron starts to wrestle with the critical idea of this touchy topic -- race -- and then backs down two sentences later by claiming that a belief in God (or any other spiritual entity) would solve this "problem" and lead to a better society.
So it's kind of interesting, right? (I hope this is the sort of thing that I am supposed to be talking about in the analysis!). I feel like this is where that online Modern Poetry class is helping me -- what I am doing with the data is what I am being asked to do with poetry -- slow down and interpret! Look at the terms and words -- how, in fact, are the students talking about race?