Two thoughts at this point:
1) Trios and Triangulation
Survey--Interview--Focus Group Trio
My original design (v1.0beta) outlines two sets of trios. One trio in methods and one trio in subjects.
The reason I had thought about doing this trio of methods and subjects was to get some level of triangulation. The question is how much triangulation do I need?
--Do impressions given by students in the survey correlate with the goals outlined by the administrators?
--Does the impact of reflections described by students in the survey match the observations given by document instructors?
--Do statements provided by students/document instructors in Focus Groups correlate well with the information provided via the survey (i.e. can the survey results be confirmed and perhaps fleshed out within focus groups. I suppose interviews could do this also--but how many would I need to do)
This design reflects my thinking from my inexperienced researcher's perspective. Actually, this design was modeled after what Chris Thaiss and Terry Zawacki recently did at George Mason University to study the place and development of writer's throughout their four years at college (see their book Engaged Writers & Dynamic Disciplines 2006). The surveyed students and faculty about their writing experience in college and then followed up with focus groups and interviews. (But then they performed their study over about a five year period!)
What I see you suggesting is that I may not need a cannon to get at what I want to explore. Use more focused and targeted methods (especially for a class project).
But would a survey be enough? Would I still need to do interviews? Would I do some interviews of administrators first before I put together the survey? Would I follow up with a few interviews of students and doc instructors? Would I survey both students and docinstructors?
2) Second Point--Genre Tracing and Activity Theory
As you probably know, my focus is on Comp/Rhet (despite my growing enfatuation with rhetoric and growing awareness of "compositions" problematic and unrhetorical nature), so I am reading Clay's book with something of a comp/rhet lens. I'm seeing the writing process as an activity system that could be analyzed along the three levels of scope he describes. How would these acts of reflection fit within the larger activity of writing (and education)? If I were to take this "integrated scope analysis" perspective of the writing activity inside freshman composition--with a specific focus/interest in where and how reflection fits--then I might need to also examine various artifacts to gain this broader perspective.
Let me rephrase things--
The freshman comp curriculum is a design intended to help teach students to "write" academically. Lee Ann Carroll in her book Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop As Writers says that what we call "writing assignments" are really complex "literacy tasks" where they construct a complicated sequence of "literacy acts" (3-4). So college composition students are being initiated into a complex and specific genre that performs a particular role within a particular "activity system" (academia). Hence, we have Sharon Crowley's astute observation that composition is not rhetoric. Of course, composition is rhetoric but it is a specialized, focused rhetoric (that many people believes is too narrowly conceived--including me).
What I'm getting at hear is what Spinuzzi would call the macroscopic level of scope of freshman composition. At this level, writing program administrators have certain goals, functions, assumptions and ideologies that underpin their construction of this "system" we call the curriculum (the regularized production of learning across a writing program).
What this study might do, then, is observe and study the place and role reflection has within this "system."
My question, though, is if I would need to do artifact analysis to get at any notion of an "integrated scope" analysis? Would I need to do textual analysis of actual pieces of reflection and other artifacts of their writing process? A "microscopic" view would necessitate close textual analysis it seems to me.
One other thing to add--I get the impression from Rich that there are other Writing Programs that incorporate reflection into their standardized curriculum for freshman composition. Could my survey study for this course be a pilot for a survey that I could attempt to administer at some of these other programs? Just thinking...