Friday, February 12, 2010

Get to it!

I had lunch with Fred day before yesterday, and I am still trying to process our discussions. I got the message fairly clearly that I need to push on through and "get it done." This imperative is throwing me off center for a couple of reasons that I think come down to "task representation." My conception of this task of the dissertation may be too grand and large. Fred seems to say that the dissertation is really a smaller task than I may have been thinking of it as. Just get it done.

I have been reviewing in close detail the thinking of the major theorists and scholars related to reflection since last summer. I have about 45K words and I'm not done yet reviewing reflection in the field of composition rhetoric. And now I hear the call to be much more pragmatic and do what I need to do to get the damn thing done. This call is a bit scary to me because it pushes me to the end game earlier than I am ready (I feel), but on another account I am enjoying this close review. I am hammering out and constructing my understanding and perspective on these thinkers and past work on reflection. I've just finished writing 11 pages and 5K+ words demonstrating that we have a "portfolio-centric" view of reflection in our field and that Yancey misinterprets Schon's notion of reflection-in-action when she bootstraps it into reflection in the writing classroom. I don't know, but I feel like I need to earn the right to say some of the things I know I will say in the dissertation by doing this thorough background work. I don't think I can spend twenty pages in my lit review in the dissertation going into comp/rhets portfolio-centric framework on reflection and where Yancey when wrong with reflection-in-action. BUT, I think I will be able to say with more confidence these things in briefer form within the dissertation with this background work behind me.

So what do I do? For right now, I feel that I need to keep pushing on at the cumbersome rate I am going a bit longer. I need to dig into research done on reflection-in-action (the little there is) and especially look at the work done by the cognitivist. I suppose I might be a bit more streamline in places where I might name or point out that there is a bunch of stuff on "whatever" but I don't have to thoroughly dig into it in detail.

As a deadline, I think I will HAVE to finish this first draft of the lit review by no later than the end of Spring Break. I believe I will be well positioned then to "get it done!"

Oh... so what did Yancey get wrong about reflection-in-action? Here is an excerpt:

"It is clear from her use of the term “reflection-in-action” that Yancey is redefining the concept in her own terms. Whereas before she has represented reflection-in-action as the thinking occurring while the writer writes, here she seems to broadly define it as the post-task reflection that occurs on a single text. She offers this definition of reflection-in-action: “Reflection-in-action tends to be embedded in a single composing event, tends to be oriented to a single text, its focus squarely on the writer-reader-text relationship and on the development of that text” (26). Nothing exclusively locates this form of reflection as post-task; however, her portfolio-centric view of reflection leads her conceive of this reflection as a kind of portfolio cover letter but on a single essay cycle."