About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writing for learning: deep learning vs. skimming

My process for writing my dissertation coincides with some of the findings I have for my study. This is especially true as my children are now home for summer vacation and I am constantly being interrupted. I try to write at least two hours a day. Often, this is early morning as typical teens, my kids don't get up until 9 or 10 in the morning. I might be in the middle of a significant idea when they come down, speak to me (I can't complain that I actually have teens that speak to me!), trips I need to make, giving a list of things to do for the day, burps/arguements between siblings...you name it.

As a result, I find I have to continually read what I have written and try to capture the thought I had. However, as I am creating the knowledge, what happens if it is lost? Was it truely an important thought? Upon rereading what I have written so as to recapture an idea I might have lost, might I not create a deeper understanding of what I am writing? And where does that idea go that was lost? Is that lost knowledge? Or is it just part of the process of idea generation and knowledge building?

I occasionally see this with my own students, who have created a speech using powerpoint. In their presentations, they will sometimes forget to mention something and may go back to it. I am continually asking them however, how important that piece of information is for the audience to understand them. If they have forgotten it, perhaps it is not really necessary for the audience. However, they may still have that knowledge in their head which allows them to understand what they are saying. That specific piece of information was a building block as they were creating their speech (and a basis for their speech as a whole) but it may not be necessary for others to have that piece for their (the audience's) understanding.

I think of it like a building that is built on the ruins of others. The original building creates a foundation and even a shape upon which a new building can be constructed. However, it is not necessary that the new building be constructed exactly the same as the original. More often than not it is improved upon, creating its own flavor or style. It is a unique creation in the end, which also can be built upon.

It is difficult to let go of the lost ideas, just as it is difficult to create something new rather than going back to the original design. The process as we discard, change, and/or create something new helps us to have a deeper understanding in general of the topic. Writing helps us document our thinking, although not all thoughts will be put down. This might be the underlying reason for why project based learning creates a deeper level of learning, much more than the finished product or even a test could measure.


LeRoy Hill said...

Hi Virginia, I found your post a rather interesting one. I am also an educator and PhD researcher and while I do not blog that often, I do find the writing process something that keeps me thinking. I like to refer to it as the writing turn. Writing keeps the ideas turning. To me I see writing as thinking and this build on the work of others (see references below). Perhaps this is added motivation for me to write a section on the writing turn process on my blog.

Kamler, B. & Thomson, P., 2006. Helping Doctoral Students Write: Pedagogies for Doctoral Supervision 1st ed., Routledge.

Richardson, L., 2003. Writing: A method of inquiry. Turning points in qualitative research: tying knots in a handkerchief, 379.

Richardson, L. & St. Pierre, E.A., 2005. Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, eds. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative research. London: Sage, pp. 959-978.

V Yonkers said...

Leroy, I like that phrase "writing turn". Also, thanks for the references. The Richardson one looks especially interesting.