Reading together

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Instructions for joining on the Assignments page.




Time photoOur course invites you to work with data collection and analysis, readings, and discussion around the field of literacy studies

Mini Ethnography

Mini Ethnography

Writing: Mini Ethnography (75 points)
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Due: various due dates. Notes/data collection (April 18). Draft due April 25; Full draft due April 27

gif of someone writing

Choose a group whose literacy practices you want to learn more about. The group can be a group that meets face-to-face or it can be an online group. Describe and analyze how reading and writing operates within the group. Use our readings and our discussions to guide your use of terms and concepts.

Begin by closely observing your group for a at least a week. Take copious field notes. Do interviews (online or in person with a mask and social distancing in place) if appropriate and record and/or transcribe them. You might also consider a survey or other form of data collection (see Sel’s example below for a great use of survey data). Read and reread your notes/data, noticing what seems most important or interesting. Focus in on making a claim about your group, a claim that might consider (but not be limited by) the following questions:

  • What “work” does literacy do in the group?
  • How is literacy learning sponsored?
  • What genres are used? Why? To what extent is new media a component of the work?
  • What does “literacy” in this group look like? What is its purpose?
  • What is the role of literacy for newcomers? How does literacy facilitate or inhibit membership in the group? What role does literacy play in leadership? How does literacy support a structure of the group?
  • To what degree is the group’s organization hierarchical or egalitarian (or in between)? How does literacy create, support, or maintain that organization?

Your mini-ethnography should be 4-6 pages long (some may grow longer and that’s fine) and include generous literacy examples from the group you are studying. The best ethnographies will use our readings to support their analysis.

Resources for data collection:

Example Interview Protocol

Data Matrix (helps to match research questions to data collection) and Coding Glossary

Examples from previous semesters:

Morgan’s “Dungeons and Dragons and Identity, Oh My!”

Miguel’s “Discovering Through Play: Minecraft’s Interactive Game Design & Multimodal Literacies”

Orion’s “Literacies of Autism’s sub/Reddit Community”

Sel Hartman’s “Deconstruction, Exvangelicalism, and the Words that Bring People Here”

Bella’s “Rave Ethnography”