School of Education – Curriculum and Instruction

 RED 530 - Seminar in Research
Prof. Dennis Parsons                                              Off./Hrs: 224 Swetman M, W: 3-4:30 PM Ph
one:(315)312-2655                                              E-mail: Dparsons@Oswego.edu

Course Philosophy/Stance The purpose of this course is to help support you in your reading and designing of research. Research is intertwined with teaching, a way of life and learning through reflecting on classroom practice. Research also has influences on the shape of local, national policies and programs, as well as on global perspectives of literacy. It is important for teacher-educators to be in this professional conversation. Besides being research “consumers,” it is equally important to take a creatively active role in the conversation. We need to be aware of what’s being talked about, written about and researched. One of the many ways of taking part in the dialogue is through reading about the theoretical shifts and new approaches in research. [knowledge, practice, reflection, authentic learning, collaboration & leadership, social justice]

 Goals and Questions of the Beauty-Truth-Justice Variety Doing research can be like looking for pretty stones in a streambed. Some of what makes up research may appear to be chance, sorting out the precious from all the mundane, wherein lies the danger. We must bear in mind that we name what is beautiful and what is mundane, although not entirely by ourselves or in a vacuum. History, culture and a whole range of configurations orient our ways of seeing influence this process of naming. Think of educational research then, if you will, in terms of Edmund Burke’s metaphor of the “ongoing conversation.” The professional conversation has started long before us and shall continue to do so long after we shed our mortal coil, yet it is how responsibility to influence its flow. We also should question how it is that this conversation directs us, through our participation in the discourse of education and educational research. With these considerations in mind, I believe that learning how to do research requires that we examine, reflect on, and perhaps change our orientation.

With the analogy of the streambed I wish to muddy the waters, so to speak, so as to raise some critical questions that don’t always get asked. I wholeheartedly believe that we ought to wrap ourselves around some crucial questions as we engage with and design research together over these next several months. To do research carries with it a whole range of epistemological, ontological and ethical questions: What is worth knowing? What counts as knowledge in the field of educational research in reading/literacy? What makes this knowledge valid? Who will benefit from this work? Who is being represented in this work and how do I represent them? For whom will this work serve? How will this work affect the lives of “the researched” and the field of education as a whole? [reflection, knowledge, social justice, collaboration & leadership]

 Goals The overarching goals for this course will be for you to:

·        expand your knowledge of the process and pedagogy of literacy

·        become familiar with the procedures and findings of widely recognized research

·        become skilled in reading research critically

·        connect with a wider community of teacher-educators-researchers

·        develop an appreciate of the value of research in promoting literacy teaching and learning that is pedagogically sound and socially just

as you:

·        plan and conduct a classroom research project

 [knowledge, refection, educational technology, authentic learning, practice social justice]

Through the weekly course seminars you will engage in reading, writing, listening and discussions that will help you reflect back through your own classroom and personal experiences as you make sense and grapple with theories and methods of research. I want you to be involved in this course as active participants, as active learners, so that together we may consider ways to reflect on theory, or theoretical practice in our everyday teaching life. The readings, writings, discussions, activities and assignments for this course will help us to reflect on our own assumptions and stances. I ask that you use the literature and the writing, the assignments and the discussions for this course to examine your own notions of research in relationship to these texts. None of this can occur unless we are extremely caring and trustful, and also willing to examine how it is that we listen to each other. [knowledge, practice, authentic learning, reflection, social justice]

 Journal/ Learning Logs & Discussion Starter Questions I am proposing a weekly journal/ learning log with multiple purposes and which will be shared with a range of audiences. Primarily and most generally, its purpose is to help you to process a variety of texts and contexts (class reading, research and fieldwork) through writing-to-learn. I see the journal/log as a marvelous tool for mapping your questions and concerns and then reflecting back on your thinking through reading and revising your own personal/ professional thoughts and assumptions, not to mention the ways that it helps to raise the tenor of the classroom conversation. I ask that you use the journal/log to synthesize, integrate and reflect on your classroom experiences with the research and readings. This is my sense of how the learning log will help you to grapple with, understand, question and make sense out of your on research project together with course readings and class discussions. Because the journal/log is a source for thought, reflection and reconceptualizing your notions of teaching and learning, it is crucial that you keep current with this task.

 The Journal/ Learning Log as Writing-to-Learn The log is a process piece. In other words, it should make sense when you reread it, but the goal here is not to be overly concerned with grammatical and stylistic perfection. Write at length for each entry, two pages single-spaced typed, leaving a two-inch left or right margin for log partner response. Make an extra copy of your logs to share with a log group partner(s) who, throughout the course, will respond to your writings in the margin and return them. A look at the learning log format:

             Single-spacing the logs and leaving a wide right or left margin (as such) works well in inviting partners  
             into a dialogue with you.

 The learning log is a place for you to learn through writing. The log is not at all about establishing and proving to your audience what you know. This last caveat is perhaps easier to say than it is to follow. For example, many of us at one point in our literacy histories have been socialized towards writing as an end, as proof that learning has in fact occurred, more than it is a process of learning. With the former, at least from the writer’s perspective, writing is used to conceal gaps in understanding, rather than construed as an opportunity to sort through confusions and misunderstandings. This being said, while the very idea of the log challenges the notion of right and wrong answers, right versus wrong interpretations, it would be wrong if you consider the log as merely a place to vent your dislikes and likes. I encourage you to make personal connections with what you are noticing in the field and in the course literature, but please consider at length, and in depth, how, where, why, they might bring you frustration or pleasure, etc.

 Finally, the learning log is not so much about summarizing texts or events unless you feel that summarizing will help you to make better sense out of a complicated reading. But summarizing can also close down your readings in the sense that to summarize is to write comfortably, to write about what you already know, about what is already familiar to you. In this sense, summarizing may eliminate risk-taking and perhaps lead you to steer clear of “problems,” and what may be confusing and difficult. End your logs with discussion starter questions for small and large group discussion. 

  Writing with log partners allows you to imagine a genuine audience to write for, perhaps in ways that writing solely for the teacher cannot. Partners also help to build a sense of community. Much the same way that small groups function, log partners can help to encourage reluctant speakers in the classroom. These smaller configurations help us learn from each other, and help us figure out what we want to share with the larger group. Log response, and log writing, tend to be among those things that you have to figure out by doing and then reflecting on this practice. I will set some class time towards examining and assessing peer response. Write at length in response to your partner. Response to a partner's writing should be supportive, and should encourage further dialogue. You want your partner to want to write to you. By all means challenge your partner's views, but in ways that will encourage her to consider your point of view and continue the conversation. Log partner response is not a place for fixing people's writing. Groups will be organized according to both similar topics and similar research designs. [knowledge, authentic learning, practice, reflection, collaboration & leadership, educational technology, social justice]

 Field Journal You are to keep a field journal in which you will include your observations, notes, hunches and your research question(s).  Separate from the log, the field journal will focus exclusively on your project. It is too easy to lose one’s bearings while doing research, so that with the field journal you will be able to retrace your steps, and ¾ through the process of writing, reading and revision¾ make connections, discover new meanings, and make sense out of the data. Think of the field journal as a draft of your research project in progress.

  Research Presentations As a culminating activity we will reserve the last two sessions for each of you to do a presentation on your research. Consider these to be informal “talks” on where your research has taken you, where you still need to go, as well as what you have “found.” Past presentations that encouraged audience interaction and/or shared samples of data and resources have been most fruitful. [collaboration & leadership, knowledge, authentic learning, reflection]

 Classroom Research Project/ Paper The final paper for the course consists of a classroom research project on a topic of your own personal and professional interest. In this paper you: introduce your topic, its significance to the field, frame your own problem or question(s) in relation to the topic, discuss related literature and describe your methodology and discuss the outcomes and implications of your project. You will be writing this paper in stages throughout course and receiving much feedback and support from myself and from your peers.

 Absences/Latenesses Absences and latenesses both can, and do wreak havoc on any kind of attempt at collaborative learning and group process. For example, often classes need to begin with small groups and work towards operating as a whole group, so as to benefit from and build on the assumption that knowledge is constructed socially. Lateness can really hurt the way the class functions. Likewise, absences upset the flow and continuity making it difficult to get to know each other, build trust, and negotiate a language to work with. You have to come to class. Attendance will be taken without calling each person’s name or passing around a sign-up sheet. If you are absent more than twice (without good reason), withdraw from the course. Don’t be late.

Course requirements and assignments:  

Grades/ Assessment:  
Teaching and learning is a dialogic act, and assessment is deeply connected to this process. Assessment is such an important part of the process; you will receive extensive feedback. Although the journal/log will not be graded, it is an essential part of the course. All other assignments will get provisional letter grades, which means that you will have the opportunity to continue to work on and resubmit them for a higher grade. Class members and the instructor will evaluate students’ contributions to the seminar discussions on the basis of the quality, relevance and usefulness. Classroom research project, including review of literature, will be evaluated on the basis of comprehensiveness, inclusion of seminal works in the specific area selected, and on quality, ingenuity and creativity of writing.

Required Texts:  
            Hubbard, R. S. & Power, B. M. (1993). The art of classroom inquiry: A handbook for teacher-researchers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.  
*A packet of articles will be available at Kraftees (242 W. Seneca St./ Rt. 104 W.).

Recommended Texts:  
            Amato, C. J. (1998). The World's Easiest Guide to Using the APA : A User Friendly Manual for Formatting Research Papers According to the American Psychological association. (2nded.). NY: Stargazer.

  American Psychological Association. (1994). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (4th ed.).  Washington, DC.: American Psychological Association.

Professional Research Journals/Periodicals  
American Educational research Journal  
The Australian Journal of Language and Literacy  
Childhood Education  
Cognitive Psychology  
Communication Research  
Educational Researcher  
Elementary School Journal  
Elementary English  
English Education  
Harvard Education Review  
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (formally Journal of Reading)  
Journal of Clinical reading: research and Programs  
Journal of Curriculum Theorizing  
Journal of Developmental Education  
Journal of Educational Psychology  
Journal of Educational Research  
Journal of Learning Disabilities  
Journal of Literacy Research  
Journal of Reading Behavior: A Journal of Literacy  
Journal of Reading Education  
Journal of Research and Development in Education  
Journal of Research in Reading  
Journal of Reading, Writing and Learning Disabilities  
The Kappan  
Language Arts  
Language Learning  
*Reading Horizons
*Reading Psychology: An International Quarterly  
*Reading Research and Instruction
*Reading Research Quarterly
*The Reading Teacher  
*Reading World  
Research in the Teaching of English
*also available in bounded print in Pennfield Library (2nd floor)

Professional Organizations

National Association of Secondary School Principals  
International Reading Association  
Council of Exceptional Children  
American Association on Mental Retardation  
Association for Supervision and Curriculum and Development

RED 530 Monday Schedule  
Readings and logs due on the date; I will try to distribute anything not “Hubbard Power” as handouts


Jan 22    Introductions – Syllabus – Burning questions  
            -Constructing an Interpretive Community
            -From topics to researchable questions  
            -Discussion of different kinds of research  

Jan 29   Reading Research/Posing Questions/ Sources of Data  
            Hubbard & Power, Intro.- ch. 2  
            Log #1: Take time to observe your class or group, etc. On the left side of the page write down all that you observe; on 
       the right side, write questions that correspond to these observations.  Then write some commentary about your observations and questions.  
            Talk: Kinds of research;  Main components of Final Paper

   Feb 5    Finding Research (We meet in the library)  
            -Library, ERIC search, full-text documents, other sources  
            Log#2: Try out one of the data gathering tools in H& P, ch. 2 and write a reflection on this process.

  Feb 12   Research Plans, Planning Research  
            Section combined with Wednesday  
            Monday class: 4:30—6 in class; 6-7:30 in library  
            Wed: 4:30-6 in library;  6-7:30 in class  
            Hubbard & Power, ch. 3  
            Log #3: Formulate your research Questions and *sketch out your plan of research (*examples on pp. 54-58, 63-64, 137-143)  
            Talk: Research Design and Representing data

  Feb 26  Handling Theory  
            Merriam, Case Study Research in Education;  ch. 4; Wells Intro. Creating Communities of Inquiry; Lopez Intro., When Discourses Collide  
            Log #4 Write about three studies for your review of literature  
            Talk: On Having a Theoretical Framework: A Progressive/Constructivist and Critical Ethnography

  Mar 5  Data Analysis  
Hubbard & Power, ch. 4; Handouts  
            Talk:  Strategies for Data Analysis

Mar 12 Review of Related Literature  
            Hubbard and Power, ch. 5-6  
            Log #5 Draft of Introduction, Revised Research Question(s) and Methodology
            Talk: “Representing Ethnographic Experience “ and Research for Social Justice

  Mar 26 Analyze This, That and the Other  
Hubbard and Power, ch. 7;  Handouts TBA  
             Log #6 Integrate four more studies for your review of literature  
            Talk: Analyzing Data

Apr 2  Standing on the Shoulders of Others  
            Handouts (Samples of Previous RED 530 Studies)  
            Log #7 Integrate four more studies for your review of literature
            Talk: Analyzing Data  

Apr 9    Writing the Field  
            Small Group/ Individualized Handouts  
            Talk: Writing up Data; Self, Context & Other  

Apr 23  Workshop and Conferencing  
         Draft Due of Final Paper 
Peer Workshop/ Conference

  Apr 30 Teacher as Researcher, teacher as Writer 
Salzman, “The Novelist and the Nun”
Individual Project Presentations

 Final Celebration  
        Fieldnotes and Final Paper Due
        Individual Project Presentations  


Guided reading  
Early language development and its affects on reading 
Impact of literacy on the incarcerated 

Ability Grouping