"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reflection on Reflections -2-

Thank you all for your amazing ideas in the comments on my first reflection. 
There are some more ideas I would like to share with you about my project.

The second theme I see in my research about the blog reflection is about self identity and personal meanings. I wonder what does the blogs mean to them. Do they feel positive or negative about it? How they understand the identity issues in their posts?   By analyzing all the data, I believe there are both positive and negative feelings among students about this issue. Some students report that they find their own voice in the post. As student A said, she was very shy, and it is still hard for her to share her ideas with a group of people openly. The blog serves as a great platform for her to overcome her shyness and express her thought. She feels that although she missed many posts, she owns each of the pieces she had there. Therefore, she does construct personal meaning for herself through the blog.  However, some others feel differently. Some students, such as student O, were explicit about their carelessness about the blog. When hearing "it is not me", or "I don't remember what I have wrote about", I feel that the blog is not part of the student's identity and has no meaning for them. They are not really devoting to it and owning their work, but checking boxes for others. I feel the same way when student R said that he wrote in "professional voice" in the blog. The so-called "professional voice" is also what I have observed in their posts. In some posts, students are not talking about their own experience. There is no "I" in their post. It is more objective than subjective. The authors' feeling are alienated from the posts.

I am not sure how to evaluate this phenomenon, since it leads the discussion back to the purpose of the blog. If the goal is to let students think about their daily life and reflect on their learning experience, then "I" should be invited in their posts and their writing should be part of their identity. However, if the blog is expected to be a space where students ponder about general questions and practice academic writing, then the objectivity should be appreciated. When having these two situations, I cannot help asking myself who has the right to decide the purpose of the blog. If the instructor has the power, will it still be "learner-centered" education? If the students does, are they mature enough at this point to make the best decision for themselves? Or, as raised by Joyce, should the college also teach students to deal with tasks they have to do although they may not like it? I just keep posing questions, but cannot find the perfect solutions to them.

The third theme about the blog reflection is social pressure, which I find fascinating. Generally there is pressure form writing and responding. In terms of writing, the awareness of the audience, especially the audience of higher level,  nerves students a lot. As some of them said, knowing that the instructor and GTA are reading their posts, they tend to say what they think will please us. Also, the characteristic of digital literacy makes people feel more vulnerable about putting their ideas out there. Different from traditional paper, the Internet records anything that even occurred on it. People can always go back and check what other have posted in the blogs. Therefore, it is natural for students to feel uncomfortable to share their real feelings through the blogs.

Also, when responding to others, students tend to be sweet smiling faces instead of challenging questioners, especially, as Student R mentioned, after two students had a conflict about the way of challenging others' ideas. Responding in writing language is the primary way for students to comment on each other's posts. They are expected to be thoughtful and respectful in their comments. Here comes the questions about the differences between personal and public speech, as well as writing and oral language. As instructors, we did start the conversations and prepare students well for the task until the conflicts happened. Due to the lack of relavant skills, students get worried about their social relationships and decide to shut their changeling ideas down.  Therefore, when do it next time, we may think about what we need to do to prepare student better for the tasks they are assigned with. Also, student may get irritated when reading others  comments because they misunderstand their tone or intention.  Accordingly, it may be helpful to spare some class time to discuss about what is going on in the blog. By having face-to-face communication, students may understand each other better, and become genuin curious about others' ideas.

Honestly, I didn't expect to find such a rich body of information and to learn so much. At this point, I am really glad to that I did this, which gives me many ideas about what to do when I have my own class. Also, thank you, my dear professor and classmate, for your constant encouragement :)

1 comment:

  1. Annie, as always, your reflections are insightful and take your findings to another level of usefulness. I think all themes are valid, in that your qualitative data are compelling and a reader could easily see how you raise these concerns about identity and belonging and social pressure. in other words, qualitative research does not "prove or disprove" these phenomena, but cause us to be "disturbed" and to go beyond our common sense. It seems to me that you have touched on enormously important dynamics that, even if they do not hold true for every student, should most definitely be looked into by the FI faculty.Your point about lacking skills especially rings true to me, as I have seen mothers in prison NOT write to their children (whom they love very much) because they were embarrassed about their spelling.


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