In Class/OutClassed

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Anne Dalke's picture

Welcome to InClass/OutClassed: On the Uses of a Liberal Education, an Emily Balch Seminar offered in Fall 2011 @ Bryn Mawr College. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.

So who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in both sections of our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about.

We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared exploration of class, in education and outside it. Fee free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE.

LittleItaly's picture

The Interview

I really liked interviewing for research purposes because I love working with people more than working with readings. But I feel like it's hard to combine all three interviews into one thesis. For me there were a lot of conflicts between each of the interviews. I think it's easier though to shape your paper by interviewing people on what you want to know instead of pulling and stretching the ideas found between the lines of our weekly readings.

lissiem's picture

Research paper

I had a much harder time with this paper than I expected.  I believe it was mainly because I went into my interviews with an idea of a research question but discovered that my interviewees didn't answer my questions the way I expected them to.  Developing a research question afterwords was a little more difficult, and I'm not quite sure if I wrote the paper the way I was supposed to.  I also may have read into my interviewee's statments a little differently than they expected.  I basically didn't take them at face value.  Did anyone run into this problem too?


melal's picture

Interviewee? interviewer?

First I really want to say something about my on-campus interview. This is the first time I communicate with people as an interviewer. At first I thought it would be easy, cauz it’s all about ask questions, answer questions and record people’s words. But it turned out that being a great interviewer is really hard. I have to admit that when I designed my questions for my interviewees, I was making assumptions about how they will answer them. Or, in other words, I know what I HOPE them to say in order to gain some useful information to prove my thesis of my essay. But actually when I finished conducting my entire interview, I found that actually almost all my interviewees answered those questions in a way that I didn’t expected them to answer, which means that I had to try change my claim. When I went over my notes trying to come up with a new topic for my essay, I really rethought many questions. I used to believe that I knew answer to these questions, which turned out only my own assumption. For example, one of my questions that I designed for my professor of English workshop is do students from different socioeconomic backgrounds perform differently? I thought her answer would be like “students from higher class families are more confident, whereas students from lower class families are more quiet.” But actually her answer was “there is no distinct difference.” I realized that actually I regarded my own assumptions for many problems as the truth.

jrschwartz15's picture

Research Paper

The most important task with this paper for me was staying within the confines of my data. Three interviews with BMC student does not offer a broad range of information to make larger claims very strong. Academic writing must be able to be suported by more than conviction, fact, statement, interview, quote, calculation, etc. While you may "know" that there is a larger truth to what you are saying, you must not state something bigger than your concrete data shows.  Additionally resourcing interviews for an essay was a first for me, and it was great to explore research options other than the internet and books.

snatarajan's picture

Invested in Conveying a Clearer Story and Claim

Despite my initial apprehension and borderline anxiety about the depth of this paper in combination with the new element of interviewing, I really enjoyed this project. I was incredibly surprised by the openness of my interviewees in the subject and was really excited to start working on my paper after I had completed them all. Especially because I had really gotten involved in each of my interviews and the stories they represented, I was positive that this had to be the best paper I've written thus far; however, I feel like because of this attachment to the topic and pressure of very high expectations, I was not very happy with the outcome of the paper. I really wanted to capture the essence of each of the interviews, so that I could strongly prove my point, and when I was talking about that point and about how I planned to prove it, I felt that it was clear. When I got to the writing aspect, however, I feel as though my argument was lost in including too much interview content and not enough explanation. I am definitely going to continue revising this paper because I really want to use the interviews as much as I can, while getting my claim across clearly. I think it's something I'd like to work on because I feel so invested in the topic and in conveying the students' stories as they pertain to my topic.

Utitofon's picture

Writing Paper 10

This paper turned out to be really difficult for me. Conducting the interviews was fun. I had all my data, but i hit a roadblock when it came to turning the data into a 3 page paper. I did not want to repeat myself, since i had already touched on the subject in my two previous papers and my confusion heightened when after my conference, I still had a hazy idea of what line of argument to pursue. Its like having too many options only served to hinder my progress. I managed to put something down, but I do not feel quite satisfied with it, especially with my conclusion. I really felt the pressure to use an extra page.  Any way, it appreciate the challenge of chanelling qualitative information into academic writing. There is always  a first time. Next time i can tap from this experience.

HSBurke's picture

Research Paper

This paper was difficult for me in that I'm not sure I adequately understand what a research paper is supposed to be like. I didn't have a problem using my interview data to support my claim, but was that what we were supposed to be doing? I felt just like I was writing one of our usual papers but using the interviews as texts. Beyond my confusion about the format of the essay, I really enjoyed hearing first hand accounts from my interviews, and using my peers' knowledge to provide data for a topic that I am interested in. Although I didn't end up using one of my interviews in my essay, seeing a different, administrative view of Bryn Mawr was certainly very helpful and enlightening. In the end, I'm not sure I was able to do myself and my efforts justice with this paper. It was difficult for me to present the information in a concise, scientific way when so much of my information was personal to the speakers. However, I did find that my thoughts flowed onto the paper easier this time around. I think this comes from the amount of papers that we've written so far and that my writing is finally growing to reflect/catch up with my expanding thoughts. If I could go back, I think it would have been helpful for me to have seen/ learned about what is meant by a research paper, similiarly or in conjuction with how we learned about interviewing. 

lijia577's picture

Paper #10, not so esay!

I've just finished my paper and I feel relieved now. Honestly, the assignment is not hard to write since I believe that everyone has a lot of things to say: on-campus workshop, parkway visit, those interviews and writing partners notes. I can feel a sense of responsibility throughout this assignment. I can feel I act as a part of the workshop and I am the active part of those interviews. I can feel that I am responsible to make everything connected and make things around me glittering. I hope that I conduct others opinions honestly and my voice can help making a better community. The change is really subtle and interesting. Previously, I am giving my response to others theories and ideas while those outcomes turn out to be less important when compare to this assignment.

gfeliz's picture

Assignment #10

I find this style of academic writing to be a lot more enjoyable than many other types of academic writings. I wouldn’t say that it’s easier because it’s definitely is not, but it’s a lot more interesting. I think what makes it a harder form of academic writing is that there is so much information from my interviews that I feel obligated to include in my paper. What also makes it difficult is that because I made my claim and interview questions before I actually interviewed someone, I had a specific idea in my head about what I wanted to try and prove in my essay. What makes it frustrating is that I didn’t get the answers/results that I was looking for and for that reason, I wasn’t able to exactly support my claim. I think that this form of writing has made it possible for me to question what I have written and if what I have written actually makes sense…

Hummingbird's picture

Easier Writing?

A lot of people have mentioned that they found this week's paper easier to write, but I actually found the opposite. I really enjoyed conducting my interviews, but felt constrained by the fact that we could only make statements based on that information. In addition, I ended up disagreeing with what my data suggested because of personal opinion and an outlying story I heard from one of my interviewees. I guess what I really struggled with was figuring out how to show the data I'd found and then disagree with it by highlighting a specific story. I also felt like I was juggling a lot of different things we'd gone over in class – including bringing in stories from our visit to the high school and information from our Wendy Luttrell reading. I ended up with an essay where I feel I got to highlight my feelings on the subject of going to college (and the assumption that everyone should) and I appreciate that opportunity, but the writing process was definitely difficult for me.

Chandrea's picture

Undocumented and Unapologetic

Hi everyone,

This is just a post about the upcoming event with Tania Chairez at TGH ths coming Tuesday. Professor Cameron sent out an email to the Class of 2015 but I figured I'd post about it here in case he missed anybody:

aogiarrata's picture

Academic Writing

I enjoyed writing this paper more than the others. I think it was because the idea that I was able to pick my own topic made it easier for me. I like to write about what I think is important and this paper allowed me to do so. Although it wasn't to fun to intervew people, it was the bases around writing an academic paper and had to be done. I had a lot to write when I had the chance to sit down.

Chandrea's picture

Paper 10

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to write this paper. I can't tell if it was because I got to think out loud and formulate my thesis during my one-on-one with Professor Cohen or if it was because it was a topic that I could write about forever because I was a part of the interviewing process too. My paper largely focused on the experiences of first-year Posse scholars so far and how the scholarship has benefited them. I interviewed three of my friends from the Posse and it was interesting to hear their answers because they were very much the type of answers I would've given because I'm going through the same things as them. It was so nice to not have to look for a reading and cite authors and squeeze quotes into my paper. Citing other readings from our classes just seem to be particularly difficult to me for some reason. Sometimes I'll write a paper with my claim and my personal thoughts and then someone will suggest that I use a reading to back my claim up. I didn't have to do that this time because my source of reading was my own self! I took my own notes and I was able to make a profound claim all on my own, not based on some other scholar who had the idea first.

kganihanova's picture

Academic Writing

Academic writing is difficult for me, no doubt, but this kind of paper was a little better. I enjoy interviewing immensely due to the interpersonal part of it and that definitely made this paper easier to plan and write. It's not my favorite form of writing  but this paper was a lot more fun than the entirely essay based essays from earlier in the semester. At this point, it's still a work in progress but I'm confident yet nervous about where this paper is going. I know I'm going to have do this kind of writing more often so I'm treating this as a practice run for my future papers for biology. Biology papers are organized in a specific way and that's how I'm structuring this paper.

JHarmon's picture

Writing Essay Number 10

One thing I have noticed about my writing overall is that it does get easier each week. While I still struggle to produce paper's I feel comfortable turning in, the process has become increasingly easier, and I find that our weekly papers have given me a great sense of growth. However, this paper was extremely challenging for me to write, and I am still unsure as to if I completed the task in the way I should have. I felt unprepared, and I wished that I could have gotten just a few more voices to place into the paper. Overall, I felt as though my paper was too representative of my own thoughts and voice, and I struggled to find a thesis out of the information I had. I also felt uncomfortable with quoting my interviewees because without "real" quotations, I was nervous about overstating things they had said. 

My writing process gave me a lot of ideas as far as how to address issues of class on campus, but again, these were personal thoughts. While they were influenced by my interviewees, I wish I had put more voice of others into the paper. I definitely think that this week's writing has a lot of room for revision. 

thamid's picture

Thoughts on Paper 10

At first I hated the idea of this paper. I did not give much thought to the process we were going to go through. I just judged my feelings from the initial idea, which is not always the best way to go about things. I felt like my interviews were successful and I gathered some important information, but I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with that information. Initially my focus area was based on class and money. I did not have a research question to base anything off of, so I decided a focus area would lead me to my research question. Initially I thought that my research question would relate to class and money, but my interviews led me to a new question that I did not think would come up based on the questions I asked. My research question was based on the correlation of class position and how comfortable we are talking about class. Once I found the path I was going to take with this paper, I realized hate was a pretty strong word.

In the end, I actually enjoyed writing this paper because of the fact that it was so different form ones we have written before. Our sources were not what we read from scholars, but rather our own questions we made for our interviews. I also liked that we created our own question to analyze and make a claim towards. We were not given a specific question that we had to make something out of, but rather we created a question based off of what was collected. So, I guess this paper was not as bad as I made it out to be.

nbnguyen's picture

My thoughts about deliberative academic writing

This kind of writing is totally new to me. Writing a paper based on your interviews and real life workshop is a very hard job, but I did learn a lot from that. I recognize the importance of making questions for an interview. It's obvious that we need to make open-ended questions, but to what extent? At first, I tried to make my questions very general. I thought by doing that, my interviewees wouldn't be limited by the narrow topics. They could have more space to express themselves. However, what happened was contradictory to what I expected. Because they are general questions, people just give me general answers. These answers are not deep enough to write a paper. I had to add so many small questions to get the information I want. Even though I tried my best, the information I got from all sources were not deep enough for me to write a good paper. To me, it's easier to write an essay based on complicated ideas from the texts rather than little stories I heard from the interviews. I just have 3 interviewees and all of my interviews just last for about half an hour, it's hard to step away from the simple ideas and acquire indepth information. However, it's nice to go beyond classroom and experience what happen in real life. It's a wonderful exercise that make students become more familiar with social research. I think all of us may have many difficulties and make mistakes for the first time, but we do learn a lot from this experience.

ssaludades's picture

Interview Paper reflection


Usually, after reviewing class readings, I start an essay with the expectation of knowing (at least the guidelines of) what to write about. With readings, the argument is logically outlined and easy to follow. However, due to the open structure of my interview questions, I had to entrust my subjects, the international students, to guide me through their story, convoluted stories that involved different contradictory factors which made it harder to follow and produce a thesis.  Furthermore, never having been an international student, I didn’t know what to aspect from them - what they want me to take away from their experiences, their needs and their story. I took this as a blessing because, having read Tuck, I did not want to taint my data with my assumptions and bias. I wanted my data to be raw and genuine.

In any case, working with the international students for this paper reminded me of our reading of Tuck in which I was researching not only to build a greater understanding but utilize it towards change. The paper wasn’t just about collecting what they were saying but trying to piece together what to do with this understanding, to create a message that would give these encounters meaning. Sometimes, I take for granted conversations and encounters with different people but having to develop a deeper meaning for this encounter helped me to remember the potential in interaction and in turn, active learning beyond the self.

JHarmon's picture

I need to

figure out how to delete this. sorry, guys. 

jccohen's picture

Week Five of our Diablog: Learning and Teaching

What is something you learned, and something that you taught, during the times we walked and talked w/ one another on Tuesday? (If you weren't able to join us then, name something in the last week that you learned, and something that you taught--not necessarily in school.)