Overview of a workshop run for doctoral students in Environmental Studies at Yale University in Fall 2008.
OK, you’re near the end of a semester learning about qualitative research and preparing a research proposal. This “writing workshop” will look at the role of writing in research from three different angles:
1. Thinking about what your project (or thesis) is isn’t finished until you finish writing—and you can’t bring writing to a finish without thinking through what your project (or thesis) is really about. So, what processes can help you with your thinking and writing at the final stages? We’ll look at “Sharing” and “Revising with Feedback,” guided by chapters 3 & 13 of Peter Elbow’s Writing with Power (Oxford U.P.) and another piece of his (http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/ elbowresponses.html). (If anyone wants to volunteer a few pages for us to give feedback on, please email me and I’ll explain how this will work.)
2. The course syllabus says:
The idea is to commit to a project quickly and put some effort into it; you may change your mind later, or find that the problem you thought was worth pursuing is in fact a deadend. Congratulations—that is what research is all about.
Is that what research and writing have to be like? It is too late to change for this semester, but let’s compare your experience with a process that allows more time for finding a project that really engages you.
Before the workshop:
a. Read the introduction to a book (http://bit.ly/TYS2012) that compiles material from three CCT courses:
b. Examine the “phases of research and engagement,” which are overlapping and “iterative”
c. Consider the idea of “dialogue around written work”
During the workshop, we will use two of the tools in the book to compare your experience with the ideas/practices in a, b, & c: Guided freewriting, and Strategic Personal Planning. (Details of how we’ll do this can wait till the workshop.)
3. (time permitting) Many of you will be teachers and researcher advisers one day. If you see your development as a teacher as an ongoing process, then this process is a suitable subject for qualitative research. In that light, before the workshop please read the compilation of snapshots from my development, and come prepared to give feedback so I can revise and improve this first draft. (I’ll be asking you to use one of Elbow’s variety of responses in providing the feedback.)