Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Working in Patches, Groups, and Spaces: A Task-Based Study of Literacy Ecologies for Digital Composing
by Voss, Julia Ann, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2013, 275; 10985335
Abstract (Summary)

Digital literacy learning has become a fundamental, mainstream concern for teachers and researchers because of the increasingly central roles played by writing in digital environments and multimodal composing in twenty-first century literacy and literacy instruction. Digital composing draws on many of the processes that apply to print composing (planning, drafting, revising, et cetera), but its medium makes additional technical and rhetorical demands on composers which print-based models of the composing process do not fully address. This study describes a process-based approach to group digital composing tasks that accounts for access to digital literacy resources, methods for sharing task responsibilities between group members, and workspaces for digital composing. The material resources (including hardware, software, and physical/virtual workspaces) and intellectual resources (the functional literacy skills to operate these material resources and the rhetorical sensibilities concerning design, mode, and audience according to which composers create digital texts) digital composing relies on recommend approaching digital composing tasks in terms of component parts, while situating these components within complex literacy ecologies.

The case studies of student and faculty digital composing groups featured in this study focus on how groups approached and worked through their tasks. I analyze participants' methods of digital literacy resource foraging, task structuring, and workspace selection/structuring to recommend strategies for teaching digital composing. Rather than offering sample assignments or rubrics, this study proposes metacognitive exercises designed to help students draw on the literacy resources present in their literacy ecologies and approach digital composing tasks as learning opportunities. Building on Selfe and Hawisher's work on conditions of access to technology, I offer “foraging” as a metaphor for describing how digital composers access digital literacy resources and discuss how foraging works in physical and virtual ecological spheres with differing degrees of resource density. Once gathered around the group task, digital literacy resources help shape how groups use cooperative and collaborative methods to structure their composing task. Gathered literacy resources create the potential for members to accumulate new digital literacy resources, which they can potentially transfer to future digital composing tasks. Although dividing task responsibilities according to previous experience can discourage resource transfer between group members, in-group techne-mentoring can encourage digital literacy learning during collaborative task phases. The material and symbolic dimensions of the physical and virtual spaces in which digital composing groups worked also function as material digital literacy resources that shape groups' composing processes. Studying how groups produce (work)spaces by inhabiting them considers the extent to which digital composers can alter literacy resources as they apply them to specific tasks. Positioning workspace as a digital literacy examines how resources change as they circulate in a literacy ecology through application to diverse composing tasks. Finally, groups' physical and virtual workspaces also functioned as important digital literacy resources. Building on Paul Prior and Jody Shipka's description of writers' environment selecting and structuring practices, I look at how groups both follow and redefine the learning behavior cues designed into the physical and virtual environments in which they worked.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moss, Beverly J.
Commitee: Graff, Harvey J., Selfe, Cynthia L.
School: The Ohio State University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 80/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Information Technology, Rhetoric, Higher education
Keywords: Composition, Digital literacy, Literacy, Pedagogy, Technology, Writing
Publication Number: 10985335
ISBN: 9780438389939
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