Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Lots of Cs!

Here we are, finally, in the last few weeks of the semester! In some ways, it feels like the semester just started and in other ways it feels like it's been endless. While I am glad that the semester is wrapping up, I also struggle to see how I will be able to complete everything that I need to by the end. It does, somehow, always get done. I just hope that I haven't actually taken on more than I can handle this semester. But, without further ado, here are the "C" occurrences of this semester!

Comps and Colloquy 

I took and passed my comprehensive exams, and I have my prospectus colloquy scheduled!

In preparation for my exams, I studied the bibliography that had been approved by my committee, and then I annotated that bibliography. After that, I identified the main points and quotes that I thought were most pertinent or descriptive from each text, and I drafted a study guide. The study guide is composed of one slide for each source. This was very helpful to me in summarizing the sources and beginning to put them into conversation with each other. I also wrote a synthesis essay for each area of scholarship. I studied three areas of scholarship for my comps: Feminist Theory, Feminist Pedagogy, and Qualitative and Feminist Research Methods. Writing the synthesis essay for each of the three areas was very helpful to me in seeing how the sources were or were not related to each other.

I took my exam on Monday, March 14th. I met the English Department administrative assistant at 10:00am in the morning armed with my computer, snacks, water, and the comprehensive exam bibliography (not the study guide). Sheila showed me up to the sixth floor and gave me the list of questions for my exam. I was asked to write three answers (three essays) in response to three sets of questions. I was able to pick one question from the first set of three questions, one question for the second set of two questions, and one question from the third set of two questions. I had a deadline for submission at 2:00pm. Except for a couple quick trips to the bathroom, I stayed in that room and wrote for four hours. At about 1:58pm, I emailed the completed exam to Sheila!

I waited eighteen days for the results, but it was totally worth it because I received a high pass! I was floored. I was hoping to pass, but I honestly hadn't even considered a high pass. I posted the results on Facebook, and I was move by all of the support and encouragement. So many friends and family encouraged me and asked about the results, and Abby helped me study prior to the exam. She was SO helpful, and I don't think I would have gotten the high pass without her help and questions about the connections between the texts. I was totally surprised and relieved by the results, and then I immediately started planning the next step.

The next step was drafting the prospectus and scheduling the colloquy (prospectus defense). I have scheduled the colloquy with my committee for Wednesday, April 20th. I'm actually pretty excited about it! My dissertation chair, Maureen, is currently in Austria on a Fulbright, so, unfortunately, she will not be able to participate in the colloquy. She has given me feedback on my prospectus, and then I will meet with my other committee members, Ellie and Trish, at the colloquy. Other than finishing my courses, this will be the last step before I can jump into my dissertation writing!

Conference on College Composition and Communication

Another highlight from this second half of the semester was attending CCCC. I arrived in Houston on Wednesday, April 6th in the evening, and I met up with my friend from ISU, Laurenn York, at our Airbnb rental. Laurenn and I presented together at CCCC 2014 in Indianapolis, IN, so we say that we are Cs buddies for life! We picked up our poster for our poster presentation on Thursday morning, and then we attended conference events during the day. We presented our poster on Friday afternoon, and then I presented at a Special Interest Group (SIG) with Ellie Long on Friday evening. The SIG was called "Undergraduate Consortium in Rhetoric and Writing." I talked about the work that I did in my internship with Ellie, as the focus of the SIG was the creation of writing and rhetoric undergraduate majors. The women who attended the group were very kind and engaging. It was a productive hour. 

The poster presentation was also productive, although we didn't get as much traffic as we would have liked. We did talk to other poster presenters about our work, and the chair of the convention, Joyce Locke Carter, asked about our work and was very encouraging about the progress. Our poster was titled "Identifying and Demonstrating Genre Knowledge: A Preliminary Assessment Heuristic in FYC Classrooms." The poster summarized the assessment work that Laurenn and I started at ISU in the spring 2013 semester. The conference also inspired us to redraft an article and look for a publication venue based on this work. One other positive aspect that came out of the poster presentation was that it forced us to compile our assessment drafts and current research into one place. I created a new page on this blog called Initial Genre Assessment (IGA) where the assessments and more information can be found. 

I enjoyed my time in Houston. I felt energized and encouraged in my work as I left, and that is always the best outcome from conferences. I hope to channel that energy into work I am now doing. 


I can't forget about the "regular" work that I am doing this semester as well! Taking two classes and teaching two classes hasn't always been easy with the other things that have been going on, but I am happy with the way that they have been progressing. Really, the focus for the rest of the semester is on presentations. After the presentations that I give and watch are over, I will need to focus on writing and grading to finish off the semester.

In the ENG 301 course that I teach, my students will be presenting in teams of three to propose a social media plan for a small restaurant based on primary and secondary research. This assignment is productive in that it asks students to take ownership of the work they have been doing throughout the semester and learn how to engage with that work rhetorically. My ENG 102 students are also doing proposal presentations in groups of two or three. Their assignment asks them to identify a problem and solution and then propose a call to action that their peers can act upon. I have enjoyed teaching both of these assignments in past semesters, and I look forward to the work that my students will produce this spring.

In the classes I am taking, I also have two presentations. In my qualitative methods class (COE 503), I just have a short presentation to round out the semester. My feminist methodologies (WST 603) class, however, will be more labor and time intensive. I need to facilitate a discussion on theoretical reading, as well as write a seminar paper. This is due at the same time as the revision for a book chapter for an edited collection, so I need to get a move on! The semester is coming to a close. It's been rough at points, and I don't feel that there will be some triumphant end. As long as I can get over that finish line, though, I will consider it a victory. To paraphrase T.S. Elliot:

"This is the way the [semester] ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper."