Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reminder About the Final Project

The final draft of your discourse community ethnography is due Thursday, June 7 by 12 noon. Please e-mail me your essay as a .doc or .odt attachment. The length requirement for the essay is 2400-2600 words (8-9 pages). Good Luck!

If you're interested in a venue for publication, check out Queen City Writers, "a refereed journal that publishes essays and multimedia work by undergraduate students affiliated with any post-secondary institution" ("About").

*****Update- I added a page with the student example to the menu bar above.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peer Review Tuesday and Thursday

For Tuesday, please bring in a substantial draft of the first three sections of your ethnographies: Introduction, Description of the discourse community, and methodology. We will be doing the first peer review then.

Wednesday we'll meet in the lab to draft and raise questions.

Thursday, you'll add the final sections to your draft (Results and Conclusion) and bring in the whole essay. We'll hold the final peer review during this day.

Final drafts are due to me via e-mail (.doc attachment) Thursday 6/7 at 10:10am.

Ethnography Rubric

  • Introduction provides a review of related literature / demonstrates understanding of that literature.
  • Introduction shows a gap or niche in the conversation/research
  • Introduction demonstrates how study will occupy that niche, previews the purpose/ argument of the study.
  • Essay contains a description of the discourse community to be studied but doesn’t spend too much time on this description. Information in description is relevant to study.
  • A methodology section details data collection methods and processes and hints at how data will be analyzed but does not begin presenting results.
  • A results section presents RELEVANT results not just every piece of data collection.
  • Results data is organized efficiently.
  • Results data is analyzed / interpreted using relevant literature/theory.
  • A conclusion section refers back to niche.
  • Conclusion section provides new information about discourse communities in general which was gained from study of specific discourse community.
  • Conclusion speculates on future research.
  •  Tone emulates an academic style (formal prose, limited use of "I," active voice, third-person.

An essay in the A range effectively fulfills between 11-12 of the criteria
An essay in the B range effectively fulfills between 9-10 of the criteria
An essay in t he C range effectively fulfills between 6-8 of the criteria
An essay in the D range effectively fulfills between 3-5 of the criteria
A failing essay fulfills between 1-2 of the criteria.

Additional expectations for Honor Grades: (A and B)
+Essay is titled and contains a header with course information and your name.
+Works Cited follows MLA or APA conventions.
+Meets length requirement.
+Meets source requirement.
+Includes a copy of interview questions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Discourse Community Ethnography Outline

  • Brief review of the existing literature (published research) on the topic. ("We know X about discourse communities" [cite Swales, Gee, Johns, Mirabelli, and/or Wardle as appropriate"])
  • Name a niche ("But we don't know Y" or "No one has looked at X").
  • Explain how you will occupy the niche. This is a kind of preview where you say what you're going to discuss, what your study is trying to accomplish. Branick occupies a niche in the following sentence: "To figure this out, I conducted an ethnographic study on how the coaches at the University of Dayton go about reading people and reading the game" (561).
  • Preview findings / Thesis (come back to this when you're finished with the whole thing)
A Description of the Discourse Community (similiar to "Lou's Restaurant" on 543 of WAW)
  • Use this section to describe this discourse community-but don't start analyzing the community until the results section. You could skip this section and have this information in the intro too. This is a good place to integrate Swales' criteria and how your discourse community fits into that criteria.
Methodology -a description of how you collected and analyzed your data.
  • who did you interview? how did you draft interview questions?
  • how/ when did you observe? record conversations?
  • What texts do you examine and how did you gain access to those texts?
  • How did you decide which information to highlight in your results section? and which to leave out? Look back at Mirabelli's "methodology" section on 543 for a good example.


  • Discuss your findings in detail and compare them to the relevant research: specific elements or concepts of discourse communities presented in the literature. So if you're discussing authority in your discourse community? What can you add to what Johns has said about authority? If you're analyzing a text, you might include a transcription of that text in this section. Furthermore, this is the place to integrate quotes from your interview.


  • Zoom out. What can we learn about discourse communities in general though your investigation of this specific discourse community? Refer back to your niche or research question/ and tell us what we learn about this specific discourse community overall. What other research might be done on this topic? What were you not able to examine that might be worth examining?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Post 12- Mirabelli's "Learning to Serve"

For Monday, Read Tony Mirabelli's "Learning to Serve: The Language and Literacy of Food Service Workers" (WAW 538). Then choose one of the following prompts to respond to:

1. Mirabelli begins his article quite differently from the ways in which the other authors in this chapter begin. What is different about it? What are the rhetorical effects of the way he begins? What can you infer from it about his intended audience(s) and purpose(s)?

2. What seems to be Mirabelli's research question (what is he trying to discover by doing the ethnography?) and where does he state it? What kind of data did he collect to analyze the diner discourse community? What seem to be his primary findings in answer to his research question?

300 words to your blogs before class Monday (5/21).

Drafting Interview Questions

The amount of relevant data you can get from your interview depends on well-planned interview questions. I've listed some examples below. The first set of questions could be applied to any community. The second set demonstrates how the interview should be tailored to your specific community. You can draw from both lists to create your own interview. You'll also want to look back at the readings thus far (Swales, Gee, Johns, Wardle) and pinpoint a few concepts/issues you want to focus on (newcomer initiation/authority/conventionalism/ anticonventionalism/general-specific/cost of affiliation/secondary/primary discourse, etc.), then draft questions which can explore these issues. Remember, it's best to start with more questions than you need. You can always pare down your list and you don't have to use all the data you gather. Finally, consider the rhetorical situation. Who is your audience? What type of language will they best understand?

Things to remember when drafting interview questions:
  1. Some can be general but you should tailor a certain number of questions to your community.
  2. Questions should examine issues and concepts from the textbook readings.
  3. Come up with more than you think you'll need, then pare down to the best/most important.
  4. Consider the rhetorical situation: who is your audience? what is your purpose (what do you hope to gain?

Generic questions

How long have you been here?
Why are you involved
What do X, Y, and Z words mean?
How did you learn to write A, B, C?
How do you communicate with other people on your team?
What kinds of texts do you write and read here? memos/emails/notes?
What distinguishes these texts from writing you do outside this community?
Do you consider yourself a full member of this community?
Who has authority here and how is it displayed?
How often do you write?
What kinds of texts do you write? Informal or Formal?
How difficult is it to publish in your field? Who can get published?

More specific questions tailored to a specific discourse community: Macau Sports Dance Association (source:

1. Do you have shared goals in your community? What is it? How do you know and when did you realize it?
2. Except for the regular training and competition, are there any other forms of communication, like parties, meetings, performance? What are the purposes for these communications?
3. Does everyone attend regular training? How often does the regular training? Is there any minimum requirement for regular training?
4. Do all members have to compete? What are the requirements for competition?
5. How do you communicate with your partner(s) during training? Is there any difference between the language you use during training and after training?
6. Are there any newsletters, websites or other mechanisms of communication for all members of your community to read or understand? Are they often updated?
7. How are new members admitted to your community? What is the requirement for admission?
8. How do new members know that you are experienced(if they could know)?
9. How do you become interested in ballroom dance?
10. How did you connect of this group in the first place?
11. How many members are there?

Class Activity: Draft questions individually for 20 minutes. Use the above models for inspiration and look back to the articles in the book. Switch with peers and have them edit for clarity, and language use. What kinds of responses do the questions prompt? We want more than Yes/no answers in most cases so make sure these questions are open-ended and invite the interviewee to respond at length.