This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
1, May 2012, 1–14
Restoring the Educational Balance: the need for narrative learning
Katelyn Beam, Katie Gallo, Emily Owens, Avan Price, Tevin Steinke Students of English 302-M07, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
The dominant forms of knowledge in academia focus on objectivity, validation, and largely exclude experience-based content. As a result, students and teachers are missing out on the benefits of narrative study that will engage their identities and cognitive abilities in unique ways. In this paper, we argue that general education courses should integrate narratives into their class material so that students in every field garner the social and educational advantages. We draw on interdisciplinary research and experience common to all human beings to support our claims. Keywords: narrative; subjective learning; narrative theory; personal narratives; fictional narratives; narratology; identity; higher education; general education; literature
Introduction Scholars have noticed an illness spreading throughout higher education. No one critic has wholly diagnosed the ailment, yet the symptoms are clear: students are not receiving a well-rounded education that they find engaging, inspiring, and relatable. Rather, the sickly education they experience is alienating. Classrooms encourage students to conceive of ideas and concepts as if they had no creators, no human histories behind the inventions that assist in students’ connection to the material. Furthermore, the contagion has affected the teachers, who, in their debilitated states discourage new and intelligent analysis. Students are confined to language conventions that are already established and ideas that are already established, stunting innovation and cognitive development. These customs rely on objective epistemology which, despite being integral to a solid knowledge base, is imprecise and can be stagnating. After all, objectivity is impossible. Rather than the depiction of whole truth that it makes itself out to be, the objective knowledge tradition is one account of the truth, one person’s interpretation (Eisner, 1988). Subsequently, there is now a need for new voices and interpretations to balance out the supremacy of that tradition. Similar to the realm of academia, the first action that people in the real world take when they find themselves unwell is to present their symptoms. They rely on story-telling because it is the form of communication most familiar to them. The world’s healers, therefore, rely on their study of narratives to revive their patients (Greenhalgh & Hurwitz, 1999; Davis, 2010). Ironically, though, academic
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke
professionals avoid this type of scholarship like the plague. But if narratives can save people, perhaps they can also save institutions. Thus, we propose that higher education integrate narrative study into general education curricula. When we advocate for narrative scholarship, we advocate for the study of stories. Narratives take many shapes (fiction, autobiographic, stream-of-consciousness, clinical, etc.), and can be used differently for different classes. What most narratives have in common, though, is the presumption of a narrator who presents the story and a listener or reader of a different viewpoint (Greenhalgh & Hurwitz, 1999). Contrary to the dominant academic texts found in research journals and conference proceedings, narratives rarely rely on diagrams to illustrate mathematical classifications or simply report information (Eisner, 1988). Instead, they describe. They create “characters in the story rather than merely objects in the tale” (Greenhalgh & Hurwitz, 1999, p. 48). This emphasis on experience will compensate for the problematic pedagogies prevalent in the academy today that limit students’ personal and intellectual growth. Education Until recently, the practice of education had relied on the telling of stories and lived experiences. Today, though, our educational system has moved away from the influence of oral tradition on pedagogy that has resulted in the use of narratives in classrooms. Teachers’ lessons are full of factual information largely removed from context and are lacking in the experiential wisdom on how to apply it. It is important to return to the use of narratives in education because we have created a learning imbalance that excludes many forms of knowledge.
Learning Process Higher education should build on primary education by challenging students to mature to the next level. Offering only objective facts is ineffective in the early levels of education but is devastating to students of higher education. Collegiate learners need to see how their course materials relate to not only their lives, but the lives of others. The most compelling argument for narrative centered learning is because it occurs naturally. Learning occurs within the individual and narratives appeal better to the individual than mass-produced fact packages. Think back to when you learned your first language. The process used to do this did not consist of an overload of raw facts. Rather, the learning process for your first language consisted of listening to applications of the language and mimicking them. Learning in this unstructured way allows
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
you to fully master a language in five years. If we applied this learning process to how we teach subjects in general education requirements, students would most likely learn more easily. This naturally structured process helps students develop emotional connections to lessons taught in classrooms, increasing overall retention of the material. By developing an emotional connection to the material, students can retain what they have learned more effectively. This mirrors the human phenomenon of memory: your earliest memory is probably linked to a vivid emotion. Doing this in education will create a similar connection. As humans, we all have natural emotional connections to one another; using different narratives in higher education provides students with the ability to extend that connection to the narrator. This new technique transforms higher education’s lessons from pedantic objective information to subjective realities, injecting life into the material (Case, Marshall & Linder, 2010). For example, when students are learning about the Holocaust, it is not enough to state the facts of the events that happened. By discussing different personal stories and survivors’ points-of-view, it will allow students to have a deeper insight and understanding of what happened. Not only will they know the events, but they will know its effects on humanity. This same kind of technique is what is needed in the higher education curriculum Although it has yet to be explored, this new dimension of emotional appeal within the curriculum has yet to be fully explored through implementation, higher education should take advantage of its benefits because it will allow students to have a deeper insight into the material that they are learning (Case, Marshall & Linder, 2010). It will help students to see how the information learned is important to their everyday lives. The lessons that narratives teach are not tailored to match test objectives; they will teach students real world problem solving skills. J.M. Case et al (2010) wrote in his article, “Being a Student Again,” that narrative centered teaching offers insight that cannot be obtained from anywhere else please explain why (p. 2). This observation was obtained through Sinclair’s (2004), “Students and Discourse: Another Perspective.” In Sinclair’s research, she discusses her time as a mechanical engineer student and the challenges that students like her faced. In her reflections, she found a need for new communication between students and their lessons you should explain why she thought there needed to be that new communication (qtd. in Case, Marshall & Linder, 2010, p.2). The technique she describes is the use of narratives in classrooms. The insight from the experiences and stories of others provides a human aspect to what they are learning you need to explain what about human connections is applicable to the real world. Currently, higher education teaches its students the information that is involved in the real world. However, adding narratives to the curriculum will correct the failures of traditional methods by building the bridges that the current system does not provide, between raw data, and realistic contexts, and how to apply students’ knowledge.
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke Additionally, creating practical connections to the learning material will help students develop
interests in what they are learning. This is important because it ignites intrinsic motivation: a type of motivation that will drive students to explore material without prompting. The traditional method of education produces extrinsic motivation, or motivation created by surroundings. Extrinsic motivation has its limitations, because it only motivates the students to learn for a particular impersonal goal, such as passing a test. They need not realize its importance to their life. Dahl and Smimou (2011) explain, “intrinsic motivation develops when students are seeking intellectual stimulation from their studies” (p. 587). The intrinsic motivation fueled by narratives gives teachers less time to worry about motivating their students and more time to worry about the more important subjects at hand. This newly acquired drive within students will result in greater participation. “Narrative-centered learning environments” transform a mundane back-and-forth to “story-centric problem-solving activities,” making participation more appealing (Mott et al., 1999, p.1). Instead of receiving information, students must analyze a story for different aspects such as plot, aesthetic appeal, the role of perspective, etc. Often students think about narratives critically without realizing that they are doing so because these narratives inherently prompt students to think critically about their material. When a student is reading a narrative, he or she takes the narrator’s perspective in the story and experiences the setting as the narrator experiences it. This perspective helps the student to learn what the narrator learned by reliving the event. This unstructured thought pattern again reverts to the natural way of learning, dissimilar to the traditional way of learning which promotes a rigid thought pattern. Instead of asking what year something happened, the student will ask themselves what that time in history was like, and how it compares to the time that they live in. Class Assignments Standpoint Theory The integration of narratives at pivotal young adult age will help students to establish values that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Hazel Rozema, an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois, argues that:
the narrative approach helps students understand the power of standpoint theory, that your perspective on society is dramatically influenced by your social position or window on the world (1997, pg. 3)
Using narratives in this context will introduce theoretical concepts such as standpoint theory that cannot fit into traditional education’s demand for objectivity. Teaching ideas like standpoint theory in school through narratives will help better reach all students than the current approach. Stories could include
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
subtext outlining prosocial skills to tailor students towards becoming contributors to our society by observing the narrators. These implications will reinforce society’s moral standards and help students to ascertain their own values.
Student Narratives Narratives can be implemented as a writing assignment in addition to a reading assignment. In an early childhood education journal, Liv Gjems argues that:
when children narrate, they may learn something about (1) the other persons’ beliefs, (2) something about the actual event and (3) and about cultural knowledge as to what is worth telling about (Gjems, 2010, p. 272).
This plays off of the added subjective dimension that this type of learning offers. All of the above benefits to narrative study can be prompted by open-ended questions on assignments related to narratives. These questions, though they might not arrive at a definite answer, will help learning more than simple recitation of facts because the process of discovering the answer is what helps students the most. Narratives in General Education Classes Narrative-based assignments can be used in all fields – not limited to subjects like language arts or history. They could also be applied to hard sciences. For example, for mathematics, in addition to the already existing story problems, students could keep a journal to keep track of how mathematics is used in everyday. They could also keep track of financial purchases and taxes. For sciences, students could read narratives or existing experiments or write their own narratives to explain their experiences with experiments. The use of narrative in any subject enhances a students writing and communication skills, which are necessary for a student in any major. Suzanne Knight, at the time of her article “Using narrative to examine positionally: Powerful pedagogy in English education” was beginning as an instructor within the educational field. Knight (2011) discusses an assignment that she gave in one of her classes, which required the students to write on an experience that they or someone experienced. From reflecting upon that experience, the students were to evaluate the different issues, advantages, disadvantages, and anything that can be learned from the experience (p.2). Instead of her students approaching it with an attitude to just simply complete it, they found it more beneficial. Knight says that one of her students, Lisa, perceived the assignment to be both personally and professionally beneficial. This allowed more room for growth than standard assignments with predetermined answers (2011, p. 3). Having such an assignment or activity allows room for the student not focus on being right or wrong. It lifts the burden of finding a “correct” answer and discovering
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke
another way or method towards a situation. The most important discovery of Knight’s observation is that it became personal to Lisa – which is microcosmic of the effect that narrative learning could have if implemented. In addition to helping students learn better during school, narratives help foster skills that could be useful in professional environments after graduation. Advantages Outside the Classroom Racial Identity and Empowerment Implementing narrative curricula into college general education requirements can improve one’s ability to ease into the real world. Narratives can be used to teach students a large variety of practical aspects that can help them begin their lives once out of college. The article “Race, Narrative Inquiry and Self-Study in Curriculum and Teacher Education” agrees that students of ethnic and racial minorities can learn “distinctive goals, missions, decision-making processes, and pedagogical styles” (Milner, 2007, p. 589). However, these various attributes must be taught by an instructor of an ethnic and racial minority as well. Milner cites an example of this teaching by mentioning how African-American teachers, during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, were already beginning to use creative and narrative stories in their instruction. They believed that change, for the good, would be on its way for ethnic minority groups under the strict rules of segregation. They wanted to portray to their students the possibility of this reality through their curriculum. African-American teachers were eager to join the teaching community prior to desegregation because it was “viewed as an honorable and popular position for Blacks” (Milner, 2007, p. 590). Once in the classroom, they were able to teach their own personally crafted lesson plans. Unfortunately, their lesson plans were thought to be “too radical” (Milner, 2007, p. 590) by the white teachers. However, the African-American teachers’ methods were discovered to be effective in the classroom. One method that was executed by African-American teachers was the use of a “counternarrative” against the “pervasive discourses and views of their mostly White colleagues” (Milner, 2007, p. 590). This meant that any racial views the white teachers had against African-Americans were reversed by the African-American teachers. The African-American teachers “were teaching their students during segregation…but were also preparing them for a world of integration” (p. 589). By incorporating narrative curriculum into the classroom, teachers wanted to show their students that they could imagine a world where everyone would be treated fairly. Narratives in general education curricula could also help bring to attention new problems and ideas one might encounter when dealing with cultural issues in the educational system. Opening the opportunity for teachers to share personal anecdotes about how, at one point in their lives, they were
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
treated unfairly because of the color of their skin, may encourage students to share their own experiences. Although much of the literature pertains to African American teachers implementing this idea in the classroom, narratives can be a vessel for people of any race because cultural conversations can liberate all of us. Teachers want their students to disclose their stories about their cultural identity and any problems encountered because it can allow them to “shed light on situations, and to serve as opportunities to discuss, research, and learn” (Milner, 2007, p. 599). A teacher can implement a voluntary story time within their lesson plans. This story time could help enable students to share their personal experiences with cultural conflicts. For example, why would students want to be forced to tell a classmate how rudely they were treated at a restaurant, for example, just because they were not fair skinned? However, if a teacher starts off the conversation, perhaps a student with a similar experience will want to talk openly to the class as well. It will then start a domino effect--the students will realize that others have had similar encounters with racism and feel more comfortable sharing their story with everyone. No one is there to tease them about their embarrassing situation; if anything, students will be assured that they are not the only one who have been treated unfairly. If this type of story time is capable of encouraging a teacher’s students to tell their stories, in the long run, it can help more people be aware that there are still cultural problems in the world. Therefore, more precautions can be made to address these issues. Practical Skills Not only does the use of narratives aid in improving racial understanding, it also helps mold the practical skills one employs in their everyday life, such as how to successfully obtain employment. Colin Jager (2009) makes an argument in his article “The Demands of the Day” that people believe the “humanities will take the biggest hit in the current economic climate” (p. 50). It would be ideal for a student to major in a subject that upon college graduation will offer a moderate starting salary, like business or engineering. These majors are usually in high demand on the job market. However employees in managerial companies ranging from “McKinsey and Company to Merrill Lynch to the Bush administration...have spent the last decade or so just making stuff up” (Jager, 2009, p. 50). These companies are looking for recent college graduates that have experience with narrative story telling because they need employees to help them continue make false statistics about “meaning, value and selftransformation” (Jager, 2009, p. 50). Why should they hire a graduate with a degree in business; someone who has only studied concrete ideas and formulas for the last four years? They should hire the graduate who has taken a course or two on narratives and knows how to concoct well-detailed and creative stories. Managerial companies who hire these employees with narrative skills will have employees able to create false stories about the benefits their company has to offer clients.
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke Another application of narrative education in the practical sense is honing the necessary skills to
understand the world around us. Elliott W. Eisner argues that using narratives as a “method or approach to the world depends upon the exercise of certain skills and dispositions” (1988, p. 18). These skills and dispositions are created through narrative education. One example Eisner gives is the ability “to employ narrative in an artistic or expressive mode that enables readers to participate in events that can be known only vicariously” (1988, p. 18). In order for one to interact better with different people one encounters in their daily life, having a basic understanding of narrative structure can help one easily obtain improved methods of communication. If a student takes a course or two on narratives in college, it can help him or her for the future. Being able to easily communicate with people in various spectrums of life can help one be fully successful in the real world. Obstacles Narratives are being considered more and more by educational professionals for use in the educational system as well as in real-life scenarios. The many benefits of narrative centered learning have been discussed above. However, there are objections to integrating narratives into higher education curriculum. While there are many who simply object to the idea of using narratives in fields such as science and math because they subjects don’t seem to correlate, there are other who agree that narratives are beneficial and necessary, but the few flaws or issues need to be resolved before implementation. For example, narratives could be made more prevalent in math classes through the use of word or story problems. And a stronger emphasis on narratives in science classes would lead to improved written and oral communication skills, which are desirable skills in the job market for those in all majors. Value Outside of the Humanities Authors Gray, Emerson, and MacKay disagree. In their article Meeting the Demands of the Workplace: Science Students and Written Skills the authors state that “employers rank oral and written communication skills as highly as or more highly than any professional or technical skills” (Gray 2005, 425). The cite student, professor, and employer surveys asking the ranking of most valuable skills in the workplace. And in all of these surveys the ability to communicate effectively was ranked as one of the most important skills. “At the broadest level, results accorded with expectations raised by previous research. One hundred percent of responding science employers agreed that good communication skills were in the top five qualities they sought in new hires” (Gray 2005, 428). While there is some weight to the argument that narratives do not always apply to majors outside of the arts and humanities, there are parties that argue that narrative is in fact, valuable everywhere.
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
One concern raised by Legal Professor Nancy Levit (2011) in her article, Reshaping the Narrative Debate, was that narratives are used to misrepresent the truth by the media. The article mainly focuses on the increased use of narrative with in the legal academic setting. Levit argues that while narrative has its uses within the courtroom and the law school classroom as a way to make dry facts more relatable, the media uses it as a way to ignore the facts completely. The media’s use of narrative to manipulate the population and the concern is raised by those who are interested in the place of narratives in a real world setting. While this may be true, it is also true that raw facts can be skewed to distort the truth and manipulate the population. The use of narrative as a way to present facts is no more dangerous than skewed charts and statistics. As A Means of Communication Another issue raised by those concerned with the place of narrative in the real world, is whether or not a narrative can be coherent enough to communicate effectively. In The Problem of Narrative Coherence, Professor of Psychology, Dan McAdams discusses the use of narrative in people’s lives in order to find meaning. The author’s concern is not whether or not narrative should be used by people to create order and meaning in their lives, but whether or not they can do so in a way that will allow them to communicate this meaning to others. Narrative stories about one’s life are the way we present ourselves to others and therefore dictates how other see us. As humans we are preoccupied with the idea of self image and how we present ourselves to others. Narratives are one of the main ways we communicate ideas and information about ourselves to other people. McAdams states that “At the end of the day, culture will judge whether a life is worth living, and whether a life story is worth telling” (2006, 123). This judgment of peoples worth based on their ability to tell their story is why coherence in ones narrative ability is so important in the eyes of McAdams.
Student Concerns There are those that argue that the use of narrative in classroom settings could cause students to feel pressured into share uncomfortable stories with peers and teachers that they may not otherwise want to share. While these arguments are valid and educators must ensure that they do not push their students, they should also be sure to create an environment that allows this kind of open communication. This is supported by Koster (2011) in her article titled “The Self-Managed Heart”. She talks about the use of narratives in gender studies class as a way to relate to each other, create a sense of shared experience, and help aid the personal growth of the individual students. She states that “As Plummer suggests (1995, 5), we should not be surprised that students are willing to tell their stories because we live at a time when
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke
people love to talk and that ‘society itself may be seen as a textured but seamless web of stories emerging everywhere through interaction’. In particular, he describes the modern western world as one that is cluttered with sexual stories that can be defined as personal experience narratives (Koster 2011, 64). The sharing of these stories can be difficult and painful, but tend to help the student come to terms with their issues and their personal disclosure lets other students experiencing the same thing know that they are not alone. Overall the benefits outweigh the costs if dealt with carefully. Conclusion Narrative practices have the potential to heal the academic institution, but, like all medicines, there are risks. We do not recommend an overdose- that is, narrative pedagogy should not take the place of traditional education, but should be used as a supplement to ensure well-rounded education for students. Rather than memorizing facts, narratives offer a greater range of information to analyze and think critically about. But we still emphasize that the potential to expand a student’s understand of his/her class material, social location, or real world predicaments is related to their ability to discern between objective and subjective interpretations. We argue that students and educators should have the option to share and foster meaningful connections that have, until now, been restricted from university curricula. There are many different strategies to integrate narrative learning into general education courses. Both reading and writing assignments open up the doors to the forms of thought processes and analysis that are unique to narrative-based assignments. Students who read cultural and racial-based narratives will find that, as they enter the world outside of the academy, they will be able to relate more easily to the different cultures and ideas they encounter. While writing narratives inspire learners to reflect on their unique experiences as they relate to others or to their own growth. They are useful outside of the humanities, though, those in the science field are also proponents of more literature education as a way of educating science majors to write and communicate more effectively. Insofar as we are people who live meaningful and experienced lives, we will search for meaningful experiences in environments we counter. It is simply a matter of following the doctor’s orders.
Pedagogy, Culture and Society References
Case, J. M., Marshall, D., & Linder, C. J., (2010). Being a student again: a narrative study of a teacher’s experience. Teaching in Higher Education, 15 (4), 423-433. Dahl, D. W. & Smimou, K. (2011). Does motivation matter?: On the relationship between perceived quality of teaching and students’ motivational orientations. Managerial Finance, 37 (7), 582-609. Davis, J. C. (2010). A profession of blended beliefs: English at a Christian liberal arts college. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 10 (2), 317-344. Eisner, E. (1988). The primacy of experience and the politics of method. Educational Researcher, 17 (5), 15-20. Gjems, L. (2010). Children’s narrating as a way of learning about other people’s beliefs in interaction with teachers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38, 271-278. Gray, F. E., Emerson, L., & MacKay, B. (2005). Meeting the demands of the workplace: Science students and written skills. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14 (4), 425-435. Greenhalgh, T., & Hurwitz, B. (1999). Why study narrative? British Medical Journal, 318 (7175), 48-50. Jager, Colin. (2009). The demands of the day. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 10(1), 35-53. Knight, S. D. (2011). Using narrative to examine positionality: Powerful pedagogy in English education. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 10 (2), 49-64. Koster, S. (2011). The self-managed heart: Teaching gender and doing emotion labour in higher education institution. Pedagogy, Culture & Society. 19, (1), 61-77. Levit, N. (2011). Reshaping the narrative debate. Seattle University Law Review, 34, (3), 751-765. McAdams, D. (2006). The problem of narrative coherence. Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 19, (2), 109-125. Milner, Richard H. (2007). Race, narrative inquiry, and self-study in curriculum and teacher education . Education and Urban Society, 39(584), 584-608. Mott, B. W., Callaway, C. B., Zettlemoyer, L. S., Lee, S. Y., & Lester, J. C. (1999). Towards narrativecentered learning environments. Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligence. Cape Cod, MA. Retrieved from http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/michaelm/www/nidocs/MottCallawayEtAl.pdf
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke Group Reflections
Strengths Working in a group with different kinds of people allows for the project at hand being better than what it could have been if done by a single person. Our group found that working together gave our text the strength of many voices. One of the strengths that are within our text is the engagement seen throughout our paper to the “greater conversation”. In our English class this year, learning to be involved in our writing is a technique that was greatly emphasized and taught. In our paper, we do exactly that. Our voice is strongly known throughout the paper, and that adds credit to our knowledge and creditability. We are not simply mimicking ideas of different scholars but develop our own voice with our own opinions. Another part of paper that is very strong is the fact that we use diction and appropriate word choice that fits the genre of an academic/ scholarly journal. Using formal writing language and the appropriate jargon found within the genre of scholarly journals centered on education is proof of our hard work in research to ensure that we are writing as closely to the genre and audience as possible. Within our text and explaining our proposal for change, our group ensured that it was well-rounded and not limited. Our examples are not limited to subjects of arts or humanities, but the harder subjects too like math and science. This is one of the strengths within our paper because it validates that our proposal for change can be used throughout the entire curriculum within higher education instead of a limited amount of classes. Also we show the effects that narrative use within a curriculum will have upon a student outside the classroom. Seeing the impact that it will make upon students’ everyday lives is a good feature that we have within our paper. Showing how it will affect their relationships with people from different culture, in the workplace, and kind of aspect possible is an interesting feature that is within our paper. Weaknesses One element that could be considered as a weakness within our text is not finding too many counter arguments to use within our text. We wanted to find articles that would boldly counter against our proposal because our team could have shown our knowledge of the opposition and our strategies in dealing with it. This technique is another lesson taught throughout the semester in class. The group found it frustrating during the researching process; however we did find different articles that did suggest they opposed our position for narrative use. Not having a strongly bold article or resource that was an opposition against our position is what could be considered a weakness. Reflection Working in a Group
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
Working in a group is difficult in trying to agree on one idea. However, in our group it was not a stressful challenge. Everyone remained opened to hear each others’ ideas and thoughts for the paper. The paper is truly a collaboration of everyone’s ideas and thoughts in one paper. How we divided the work between each other was to divide the paper into different sections. From there we researched and wrote within our respective sections. After writing and integrating our research into our assigned section, we passed it amongst our members to get feedback and comments on things that were and were not working. But it was the original person’s responsibility to finalize on the assigned section. What could be considered a malfunction within our group was trying to balance everything with our busy schedules. Everyone in the group has other classes and part-time jobs so balancing that with this group research paper placed a lot of stress and pressure amongst the group to ensure everything was done. Overall, we believe we did a good job managing everything. The Facebook group page that we created was a major help in keeping each other in communication with each other. It allowed for our group to be updated on the anything that any group member had done or any task that needed to be completed. And the use of the Googledocs helps to maintain our research and drafts of the paper to be organized. Personal Reflections Avan: My reflection upon this experience of writing a paper within a group is nothing but positive. This experience is much better and more organized than the last time I had a group research paper. Everyone was helpful and focused on completing our assignment. I did not feel stressed out or worried that my team members would fail on me in anyway. What I would do the same, if I have to do this again, is to follow the same work flow. I really liked how we organized the tasks and how we did our revisions amongst our papers. I thought it was nicely done and very well organized. My group members were very inviting and welcoming to hear any input, ideas, and thoughts that I had towards the paper. It wasn’t a paper that had a leader that dictated everything, but truly was a collaboration of everyone’s effort. Katie: I had a great time working on this paper with this group. Despite trying to figure out what sources would be best for this paper and its counterarguments, we managed to “glue” Emily’s ideas into one cohesive paper with all of our voices prevalent in the final product. None of us bailed on each other; we got all of our work done, despite our very busy schedules. I know that I was desperate to make sure I got all my documents submitted on time, even though I had numerous closing shifts at work. My group though, took that into consideration and never got upset with me if I had to delay a submission. Katelyn: I have worked in groups before that were utterly miserable. But with this project I had a very different experience. We were all respectful of each other and each other’s ideas, we listened to each
K. Beam, K. Gallo, E. Owens, A. Price, T. Steinke
other and took each other’s opinions into consideration. We were as organized as we could be with five students working together over Facebook and Google documents. For the most part we all stuck to our deadlines, and when we were a little late the rest of the group understood. I think that you can hear the different voices of all the writers, but that they come together to make a fluid and cohesive paper. Emily: This paper was well worth the effort and I think it engaged the strengths of each of the group members. Our brains came together to form a filter so that in the end we found the best topic, research, organization, and implementation plan. The fact that this project was so big necessitated all of us to serve as editors so that there was constantly a fresh pair of eyes. I think it was a good idea for each of us to stick to our own sections so that we could bring a particular point of view to our proofreads, ensuring that every part of the paper made sense from our stand point. If I could change one thing, though, I would have started the writing process earlier. A big part of this paper is editing, so it would have been helpful to begin editing earlier. Tevin: A project like this requires multiple students working together as parts of a machine. In that respect, I think we worked together well. Our method of “divide and conquer” helped the large project seem a bit less daunting. Our method of communication (Facebook) was effective because we all went on there anyway and we were notified by Facebook whenever someone posted in our group. Google Documents was an excellent storage mechanism for our drafts and articles, but is lacking in some ways of formatting. In retrospect, I would only change one facet of how we tackled the project. I think we should have carefully read all of the project requirements and course schedule at the start of the paper and set explicit deadlines at that point. This is not because we lacked explicit deadlines, but because there were certain lulls where we were not doing work and certain times where we were overloaded with work. If instead we had divided it so we had a constant stream of workflow, the project could have turned out better and given us less pressure.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.