Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum|
|Guidelines for the Case Study of a Student Writer/Reader|
Overview. For this assignment you will conduct an informal case study of a middle school or high school student in order to gain an understanding of the student as a writer and reader and to examine the role of literacy in that studentís life (both in and out of school). Your primary purpose in this assignment is to provide a description of your student as a writer and reader and explore the implications of what you learned about adolescent literacy through this case study. You should assume an audience of professional educators that might include your classmates, teachers at the school where you are student-teaching, and educators in general.
This assignment involves collecting information about your student and the context within which he or she writes. You will collect this information primarily through interviews and observations. You will also need to consult the relevant published research on adolescent literacy and learning. In short, through your research for this assignment, you will try to answer the following questions:
Content. Your case study will include a description of your student as a writer and reader and the contexts within which he or she engages in literate activities. It will also include some analysis of the studentís writing and reading as well as some discussion of the implications you see for our understanding of adolescent literacy and for your work as a secondary school teacher.
Understanding your student as a writer and reader will require you to get to know that student and his or her experiences with writing and reading--both in school and out of school:
You should plan to collect at least one or two writing samples from your student and talk to the student about those pieces of writing. Your case study should include some discussion of the studentís writing and what it seems to reveal about the student as a writer.
Using Published Research. In your discussion of your student and his or her writing and reading, you will draw on published theories and research that are relevant to the specific issues and questions that arise as you seek to understand your student as a literate person. This use of published research is a crucial and required component of this assignment. You can use any of the course readings, but you should also expect to search for and review other research and professional literature that might help you understand your student and his or her writing.
The purpose of consulting the professional literature is to connect what you are learning about your student with what has been discovered through formal research and what is generally accepted as theory in education and literacy studies. You are likely to find that published studies corroborate what you are discovering about your student. But you may also discover something about your student as a writer and reader that seems inconsistent with published research or seems to complicate what the research indicates. In such cases, you should try to explain your observations and perhaps draw conclusions about our collective understanding of adolescent literacy. The point is to use available sources to help you understand what you observe in your case study student.
You will work with your study group as you develop your case study and explore the relevant literature to help you understand what you are learning about your student.
Collecting Sufficient Information. In order to collect sufficient information to provide an adequate picture of your student as a writer/reader and to gain an understanding of him/her as a literate person, you might consider the following:
Finding a Student. The student you choose to work with for this assignment can be any current middle or high school student. The only requirement is that the student is willing to participate, which means, at a minimum, that he or she will agree to be interviewed by you and share some writing with you. You may choose someone you know (a relative, friend, or neighbor) who is currently a student in grades 6 through 12, or you can work with a student in one of your classes in your field placement for ETAP 590. If you have difficulty finding a student for this assignment, please see the course instructor, and arrangements will be made to find someone for you to work with. (In your written report of your case study, be sure to use a pseudonym for your student to protect his or her identity.)
Permissions and Related Issues. If the student you work with for this assignment is someone related to you, you will not likely need to obtain formal permission from the student or his or her parents; however, if you plan to work with a student you are currently teaching or who is enrolled in a class in which you are student-teaching, or if you wish to work with a student in your school who is not a personal friend, you will need to obtain that student's written permission along with his or her parent's written permission. The permission form need not be extensive, but it should include the following:
Make sure to get the studentís signature and a parentís signature as well.
Practical Issues. It is a good idea to use a tape recorder for the interviews you conduct with your student (with his or her permission), but it is not essential. What is essential is taking good notes, whether interviewing or observing the student.
Be sure to allow yourself sufficient time to contact the student, obtain the necessary permissions, and arrange for the meeting (or meetings) you will need to have with the student. Also, of course, allow sufficient time for writing your drafts. Be familiar with the assignment deadlines.
Interim Report. An interim report on your case study is due in class on March 3rd. The primary purpose of this report is to provide an update to your study group members and to your course instructor about your progress on your case study.
By the time of this report, you should have already collected information about your case study student and conducted at least a preliminary interview. Ideally, you will also have examined some of your student's writing and perhaps observed him or her in class.
Your interim report should be a few paragraphs in length in which you include the following:
Please post your interim report to your study group forum on the course Blackboard site.
When you come to class on March 3rd, you should be prepared to discuss your progress on the case study with your study group members and your course instructor.
Style, Length, and Related Matters.
Submission Guidelines. The finished report of your case study should be 1200-1400 words in length. You should follow the conventions of academic writing in your report, but you need not be overly formal in your writing style. Be sure to include sufficient background information about your student and his or her school district, but be sure to maintain the studentís confidentiality.
You should submit your finished case study by posting it to your study group forum on the course Blackboard site.
Grading. This assignment is worth 20 (out of 100) points. Points will be awarded on the basis of the following criteria: