When I started at Texas Tech in August ’09 (just last semester though it feels much longer than that), I had a set agenda of what I wanted to study. I had spent the last four or five years of my life teaching underprepared and underrepresented college students basic writing, and it was my desire to study ways in which we can use technology to better teach these students.
In fact, here is an excerpt from the statement of interest I wrote as part of my admission packet to TTU:
Having taught students from difficult life situations, many who didn’t believe they deserved to be in a college classroom, my strategy for teaching English had to change. I could not solely be the teacher instructing the students to write well. I had to be the teacher who empowered students, gave them autonomy and ownership of their education, and then taught them to write well. This was and is still difficult to do because remedial courses have such a negative stigma placed upon them – which the students know – and that stigma creates an additional barrier for the instructor to break through.
My desire to reach these students, to understand the underrepresented and underprepared students and to make those remedial writers students who take ownership of their work is at the core of my pursuit of the Ph.D. I know that a Ph.D. program, especially one with a strong rhetoric-composition background such as Texas Tech, will equip me with the terminology, the research methodology, and the instruction necessary to better understand the students that walk into my classroom. At the end of the day, despite the life situations that label these students “underprepared,” I want to be the point at which students connect and realize that they can become effective writers.
Because of my background, there are several interests I’d like to examine while part of a Ph.D. program, and they all connect to the basic (remedial) writer and how to provide him or her with the tools necessary to become a good writer and a person who understands the importance of writing outside the classroom. In looking at basic writers, I’m interested in what technology can be used effectively to help them develop their writing. I’m interested in pairing portfolio-based instruction to the technology to further the basic writer’s learning. Ultimately, I’m seeking to understand how to make the basic writer the most autonomous writer and person he or she can be.
A few months into the semester, a professor asked the class a question that left my mind wheeling for weeks, months: Who are you as a researcher?
My statement of intent had clearly shown that, hadn’t it? I thought so, but as I immersed myself in my classes, remembered past research interests, and began to meet and talk with people who shared those interests, I realized that what made me a researcher was much more than just one idea, one thought.
And despite the myriad of interests that now crowd my mind and oftentimes keep me from focusing like I should, I realize that all of these interests connect back to several key components that make me who I am.
Who Am I?
(a quickie, off the top of my head list)
Topics of Interest
Theories/Methods/Ideas That Interest Me Thus Far
What does any of this mean right now?
I guess, if I had to sum myself up, I would say that I’m a researcher who is passionate about finding ways to use technology to develop/construct/reconstruct the best possible identities we can– whether that comes in the form of how black women/culture remediate and create narratives in virtual worlds/communities or how forms of social media can help basic writers become more effective writers.
And I’m starting to realize that as long as I have a solid grounding, foundation (such as my main interest in the construction/reconstruction of identity through the use of social media and virtual worlds/communities), I can apply this focus upon just about any subject to see if there is something there worth studying.
Right now, though I am still interested in the basic writer (the basic writer is very near and dear to me), I find myself connecting strongly with three components of who I am: ”black,” “woman,” and “author” (particularly in regards to narratives).
I’m interested in the “black woman” narratives found within virtual worlds/communities. I’m interested in learning if these narratives are simply remediated from the real world and real communities or if they are created by the nature of a virtual world/community. I’m interested in learning why these new narratives (if there are some) are created and what this might mean.
I’m MOST interested in seeing how this second semester will help solidify my interests and my development as a researcher.
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