31 SES 06 A, Studies on Developing Writing Skills
Students attending universities in Europe are facing strict academic writing norms. Meanwhile, the tendency in the ongoing debates about students writing abilities is to discuss it as a problem (e.g. Badenhorst et al 2015). My research focuses, in relation to this, on students increasing physical as well as virtual mobility and how this is affecting students’ academic writing activities and their texts. Today many students are obliged to create their own ´spaces of writing´ (e.g. Mauk 2003) and this aspect could create opportunities but also difficulties for assimilating an academic writing practice. Exemplifying with the teacher training programme in Sweden, the aim for this study is to investigate how these ´spaces of writing´ are created and maintained by students. More specifically, the aim is to explore the relationships student writers form with places, technologies and other artefacts as well as how these material environments affect writing practices and the growing texts (see also Pigg 2014). Overall these issues concern students writing strategies in relation to a fixed academic writing norm. It also puts light on how (or if) the education system itself is handling the new difficulties and possibilities when it comes to writing that a globalized and digitalized world is facing.
To study the issues presented, the concept of third space is seen as highly relevant. It refers to how academic practice fuses with the everywhereelseness of student life (Mauk 2003). As Reynolds argues, when it comes to writing, this activity is not enacted in stable, always-the-same places, but within shifting senses of space, in the between, in third space (2004:5). In this study, third space is seen as something that inevitably constitutes a part of academic writing practice, especially for students that often are handling their academic writing in their everyday, outside of an academic space. However outside, students should adapt to the inside, the academic writing norm. The in between space, the third space, that thus is emerging is not a space that can be seen as in harmony. It can be sites of struggle, tension and fragmentation (Ikpeze 2012:377). It can work against student’s processes of academic writing (Mauk 2003:380). At the same time, these in between spaces, Wallace argues, provide a zone of new interpretations and meanings (2004:908), or as Bhabha writes; it is in this struggle that “newness enters the world” (Bhabha 1994:212). Focusing third space in relation to students’ academic writing can capture student’s struggles and tensions, and how academic writing norms are handled in a more and more moveable and dissolved information-rich culture.
When studying spaces of writing, the workplace is seen as one important aspect. Yet the workplace of students can be seen as undefined and self determined. The workplace could be seen as concrete and fixed position on a map, defined by people and events, but it also affects issues of space, a concept being more abstract, intangible and conceptual (Reynolds 2004:181). Swarts elaborates with the idea of the workplace, and argues that new mobile technologies are allowing the professional workplace to intrude on the domestic (or vice versa). This creates sites where multiple places can collide, what Swarts labels transit zones (2007:207). I see these colliding workplaces as relevant when studying students writing, as their workplace already can be seen as self-determined and undefined. It is also in close connection with the concept of third space, where workplaces is seen as affecting how third space is created and maintained.
Badenhorst, C., Moloney, C., Rosales, J., Dyer, J., & Ru, L. (2015). Beyond deficit: Graduate student research-writing pedagogies. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(1), 1-11. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1651864847?accountid=8028 Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The location of culture. London: Routledge. Cameron, J., Nairn, K., & Higgins, J. (2009). Demystifying academic writing: Reflections on emotions, know-how and academic identity. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33(2), 269-284. doi:10.1080/03098260902734943 Ikpeze, C. H., Broikou, K. A., Hildenbrand, S., & Gladstone-Brown, W. (2012). PDS collaboration as third space: An analysis of the quality of learning experiences in a PDS partnership. Studying Teacher Education, 8(3), 275-288. doi:10.1080/17425964.2012.719125 Mauk, J. (2003). Location, location, location: The "real" (E)states of being, writing, and thinking in composition. College English, 65(4), 368-88. Pigg, S. (2014). Emplacing mobile composing habits: A study of academic writing in networked social spaces. College Composition and Communication, 66(2), 250. Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell. Swarts, J. (2007). Mobility and composition: The architecture of coherence in non-places. Technical Communication Quarterly, 16(3), 279-309. doi:10.1080/10572250701291020 Wallace, C. S. (2004). Framing new research in science literacy and language use: Authenticity, multiple discourses, and the "third space". Science Education, 88(6), 901-914. doi:10.1002/sce.20024
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