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Autoethnography: Writing and Talk Aloud Method

By purplemunkey96 Nov 05, 2014 1472 Words

Running Head: AUTOETHNOGRAPHY

My Autoethnography
Amanda Harris
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Abstract
The purpose of this experiment is to help inexperienced writers discover their writing styles and techniques. Each student has their own routine used to compose a paper. Most students do not know what that routine is. To help students find their routine writing style, research was conducted by having inexperienced writers record themselves writing by using the “talk aloud” method, transcribing the notes taken, and coding the notes. The findings of the research done are based on the student and their writing style that was discovered.

My Autoethnography

This experiment has been performed to find out the different processes unskilled writers use to compose an essay. Every writer has their own process, but most writers do not know what that process is. The experiment was performed as an autoethnography, which means it was conducted on ourselves. To gather the research for the autoethnography, we recorded ourselves writing, using the “talk aloud” method, transcribed our notes on to paper, and coded our transcriptions using the coding method used by Perl. The purpose of this paper, is to present the results of the writing processes used by unskilled college freshman writers. Background

Interest on on unskilled writers have been shown for two reason. One, to learn how unskilled writers, write. And two, to help unskilled writers with their writing process. The research we will be conducting on ourselves is essentially a model of the research done by Perl, in her article, “The Composing Process of Unskilled College Writers.” Perl used a coding method in her work to determine the unskilled college writers’ writing process, as in how many breaks were taken, how much writing was done at one time, when they stopped to plan their writing (Perl, 1979/2014, pp. 620-621). Prior based his studies on the nature of writing which is covered in his article “Tracing: How Texts Come To Being.” Prior has done research to teach students how to trace their writing,which can also be found in his article (Prior, 2004/2014, pp. 500-504). Lamott helps students in her article “Shitty First Drafts,” by explaining that a shitty first draft is how good writers start off. While explaining in her article that no writer “sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident (Lamott, 1994/2014, p. 528).” She goes on in her article to talk about how in our writing process, us as the writer, are usually our biggest enemy(Lamott, 1994/2014, p. 529). She uses this to remind unskilled writers that it is okay for the first draft to be shitty. Sommers talks to her readers about resources, and knowing if a resource is the right resource. In her article, she says “the sources change meaning when I ask questions in a different way (Sommers, 1993/2014, p. 567).” This means that, different sources do not only have one meaning, or one purpose to the writer. Sources are filled with all different types of information depending on the question you were asking. Research on writing is becoming very popular in the world, and more and more people begin to take interest in the writing process. It is important for people to know exactly what takes place in their process to compose an essay. Methods

To conduct this experiment, start by using the “talk aloud” method to take notes, while writing a short paper, record this data by either video recording, voice recording or a friend writing notes down. When all the data is recorded, use a simplified version of the coding process learned in Perl's article ""The Composing Process of Unskilled Writers," to color code the data, such as how many breaks were taking during the writing process, how many times the work was revised, and how many pauses for ideas were taken. Each action taken while writing the paper will be coded in a different color, for example, breaks would be red, planning will be blue, correcting mistakes would be yellow, and so on and so forth. After coding, use Priors tracing process mentioned in his article, "Tracing Process: How Texts Come Into Being," to preview the work and read the codings. When data has been coded and traced, analyse the data collected about the writing process, by using a composing style sheet and coding the color coded work in to a letter coding, for example, planning is coded with a P, reading is coded with an R, breaks are coded with a B and so on and so forth. The result of this coding will look something like P-R-B-W-R-P.

Results
In my data, I found that while writing a paper, I do not tend to plan out very much. When I write a paper I set my notes next to me, I pull up my Google Sheets document, and I begin writing and read my notes as I go. Before starting an essay, I tend to stare at the computer screen for a long time, to think of a good way to start my paper. During my writing process, I erase a lot of sentences and words, and rewrite them. Also while I am writing, I tend to stop, and take a lot of smoke breaks. When my writing is done, I go back, reread my work, and revise whatever I feel needs revision. As shown in the coding sheet below.

P-W-R-W-R-B-R-W-B-R-P-W-B-W-R-W-B-W-W-P-W
Figure 1. Autoenthography Coding Sheet. P-plan, W-Write, R-read, B-break. While writing, I must be in an environment involving no distractions, such as people, radio, television or phones. If the people are in the room with me are also writing, or doing some type of homework, they do not cause a distraction for me. I cannot lay down while writing, I have to sit up. I usually write sitting on my bed with pillows propped up so I can lean against the wall. This gives me a comfortable position to sit in for a long period of time, so I do not have to move around a lot while writing.

Discussion

What I have found that I did not realize before performing this experiment, was how many breaks I take while writing. I have looked at this and taken into consideration that I need to stay more focused on my work and not take as many breaks. I learned that when I would lose track of my thoughts in a paper, it was mostly due to the fact that I stopped for a break. Also, I learned that, in order for me to write efficiently, I must be in a room with absolutely no noise, or I will get distracted. No music can be played, my phone must be turned off, no one can be around me, and I cannot turn the tv on. While writing I had to lock myself in my room, to keep myself from distractions such as, hanging out with friends, or stopping for a snack. I turn very ADD when writing my papers, and the littlest things break my focus. This has helped me by showing me what types of environments I write best in, and by showing me all the distractions I have while writing.

References
Lamott, A. (2014). Shitty first drafts. In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds.), Writing about writing: A college reader (2nd ed., pp. 528-531). Boston, MA: Bedford /St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life, pp. 317-336, 1994, New York, NY: Anchor) This book helps students learn how to write well organized and planned essays for college. Perl, S. (2014). The composing process of unskilled college writers. In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds.), Writing about writing: A college reader (2nd ed., pp. 616-638). Boston, MA: Bedford /St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from Research in the Teaching of English, 13(4), 317-336, 1979) This book helps students learn how to write well organized and planned essays for college. Prior, P. (2014). Tracing process: How texts come into being. In E. Wardle, D. Downs, C. Bazerman, & P. Prior (Eds.), Writing about writing: A college reader (2nd ed., pp. 493-525). Boston, MA: Bedford /St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from What writing does and how it does it, pp. 167-200, 2004, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum) This book helps students learn how to write well organized and planned essays for college. Sommers, N. (2014). I stand here writing. In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds.), Writing about writing: A college reader (2nd ed., pp. 565-573). Boston, MA: Bedford /St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from College English, 55(4), 420-428, 1993)

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