"I Kinda Just Messed with It": Investigating Students' Resources for Learning Digital Composing Technologies Outside of Class
Keaton, Megan K. (author)
Neal, Michael R. (professor directing dissertation)
McDowell, Stephen D., 1958- (university representative)
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, 1950- (committee member)
Fleckenstein, Kristie S. (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Arts and Sciences (degree granting college)
Department of English (degree granting department)
This dissertation investigates the resources that students use to learn new digital technologies to complete course assignments. This work is particularly important in a time when teachers are assigning more multimodal projects. If students are using and learning digital technologies to complete our assignments, we might argue that we should teach our students how to use the specific technologies they would use for the assignment. Yet, teaching students specific technologies is complicated for several reasons, including limited time and resources, numerous and quickly obsolete software, different levels of expertise for students and teachers, and more. Because of these complications, students may benefit from spending less time with instruction in specific technologies and more time considering practices for learning new digital technologies. This dissertation works to discover practices that teachers can use in the classroom to help their students learn how to learn new digital technologies in order to compose multimodal texts. To do this, I investigate how students are already learning technologies outside of the classroom and use this investigation to identify possible pedagogical directions. To gain a broader understanding of the resources students are using, I surveyed five sections of an upper-level composition course in which students completed at least one digital assignment. Then, to gain a more nuanced and richer description of resource use, I interviewed three of these students. To analyze the data, I used a framework adapted from Jeanette R. Hill and Michael J. Hannafin's components for Resource-Based Learning (RBL). RBL is a pedagogical approach that aims to teach students how to learn and to produce students who are self-directed problem-solvers, able to work both collaboratively and individually. Though RBL is a pedagogical approach, I used its values and parameters as a lens for understanding students' use of resources. RBL (as the name suggests) puts emphasis on the resources students use to facilitate their learning. Given the wide variety of resources and the ways in which they can be used in the classroom, few scholars articulate precisely what RBL may look like more generally. Hill and Hannafin (2010), however, list four components among which RBL can vary: resources, tools, contexts, and scaffolds. In this study, resource is an umbrella term for the tools, contexts, and humans students may use to support their learning. Tools are the non-human objects that students use to learn new technologies. Humans are the people from whom students seek help. Contexts are the rhetorical situations (specifically the audiences and purposes for composing) surrounding the technological learning, the students' past technological experiences, and the physical locations in which students work. An important element of this study is to identify not only what resources students use, but also how they use their resources; scaffolds are how the resources are used. The scaffolds in this study are as follows: conceptual scaffolds – resources help students decide the order in which to complete tasks, understand the affordances and constraints of the technology, and learn the genre conventions of a given text; metacognitive scaffolds – resources help students tap into their prior knowledge; procedural scaffolds – resources provide students with step-by-step instructions for completing tasks or with definitions of vocabulary; and strategic scaffolds – resources encourage students to experiment in order to learn and solve problems they encounter while learning the technology. In addition to addressing what and how students use resources to learn to perform tasks with the technology, I also examined how students used resources to learn the specialized vocabulary of the technology and the technology's affordances and constraints. The study resulted in eight findings about the ways in which students are using resources. These findings were then used to identify three areas for possible strategies teachers might consider to help students use resources to learn new technologies: 1. Helping students effectively choose technologies, which includes assisting them in (a) using resources to identify technology options and learn about the affordances and constraints of the options and (b) using the affordances and constraints, their composing situations, and the available resources to choose the technology that best meets their needs. 2. Helping students effectively use templates, which includes aiding them in (a) using templates to learn about the genres in which they are composing, (b) selecting effective templates, and (c) altering the templates based on their rhetorical situations and preferences. 3. Helping students learn the technology's specialized vocabulary, which includes assisting them in (a) identifying familiar visual and linguistic vocabulary, (b) making educated guesses about unfamiliar vocabulary, and (c) using resources to learn unfamiliar vocabulary.
Composing Technologies, Composition, Pedagogy, Resource Based Learning, Self-Teaching, Technology
March 10, 2017.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Michael Neal, Professor Directing Dissertation; Steven McDowell, University Representative; Kathleen Blake Yancey, Committee Member; Kristie Fleckenstein, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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