Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Key Methodological Goals for Slice 5

Memo 3/31/10

As I dive into coding slice 5, I have attempted to reorient my conceptual and interpretive antennae for how I will be looking at the data. (Note: This antennae is not so much about “what” I will look for in the data, though it may be phrased that way.)

Two major goals for this coding:
1)Develop my categories (and sub-categories) in terms of specific properties and dimensions
2)Evolve key elements of the “warrant” for my emerging grounded theory analysis
a.The verisimilitude and coherence with which I portray the “ground” (or phenomena) I am explaining/studying
b.The vitality of the concepts (the names of categories/properties/dimensions) I use to draw attention to important aspects of the ground
(from Piantanida and Tananis 2002)

Let me state this in other terms. First, I want to map out my conceptual description and explanation of my phenomena of study (ground). I have not yet done this formally along the lines of category/property/dimension. As Dey states, the distinction among these aspects of concepts is often confused. What will make a difference, I believe, is that also in this process I examine the conceptual framework I am establishing to see where it needs tweaking and adjustment. To do this, I will of course be open to the appearance of new categories. But I also think I will take my coding and analysis to a number of peers to see if they believe I am accurately describing the phenomenon and whether my terms are “vital” enough. What am I missing? How could I use language differently to capture things better? The presumption here is that as I evolve my “terministic screen” (my framework of abstract conceptualization) and as I refine my sense of the phenomena, my emerging theorizing will likewise be sharpened and more open to fruitful “densifying.”

This slice will also move me toward axial coding where I begin to search for relationships between categories and how their properties relate along dimensional levels.

Next post: Coding--Of categories, properties and dimensions (didn’t get to it this morning.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

About Slice 5 Memo

This memo will be discuss general characteristics of slice 5 of my data and goals for coding. For this slice, I have grabbed what could be called single loops in the drafting cycle. The entire loop contains:

Draft A
--DI comments
--2 peer reviews
Writer’s Review
Draft B
--DI comments

The slice includes 12 loops, each from a different student. 6 loops from Fall 2005 1301 students and 6 loops from Spring 1302 students. Fall 04/Spring 05 1301 student samples were excluded because the drafting cycle did not have students make repeated attempts at the same general task. Instead, each draft was a separate but contributing activity toward the final draft. In Fall 05/Spring 06 the 1301 curriculum was adjusted and what I would consider a more normal drafting cycle was reestablished.

Notes on 1301 drafts:
I have taken three loops that go from draft 1.2 to 1.3 and three from draft 3.2-3.3. Essay #1 was an “Exploratory Essay” where student explored the meaning of a puzzling experience. In draft 1.1 they simply described the situation, established the question, and explained the significance of the question. In draft 1.2 they were supposed to show readers how they have explored their research question and what they have found at this point. The final draft 1.3 states, “The final draft of this essay cycle should continue your exploration and present readers with the results of your exploration.” It amounts to a more polished and detailed draft of 1.2, so this loop represents a good target area to see what I would consider task oriented reflection,

The second loop from 1301 was between the last essay of the semester (they only did three essays?). It is a problem-posing/problem-solving essay. Draft 3.1 simply explored and charted out the territory of the problem, its possible causes, and why others might find it interesting. In draft 3.2 the writer was supposed to write from researching the problem. They were to describe the problem and its context more and propose one solution. Draft 3.3 is the final draft and adds the piece that two or three possible solutions were to be discussed and weighed. Then the writer was supposed to recommend one solution. Draft 3.3 is a building draft and retains the same core elements of the writing task, so getting a writing review between 3.2 and 3.3 also is a good target area for me.

Notes on 1302 Drafts:
I have taken three loops from draft 1.3 to 1.4 (they did four drafts of two essays in 1302). This essay is a formal persuasive letter. Draft 1.1 students wrote a decision maker about an issue (problem) and try to convince them to do something about it. Draft 1.2 students wrote the same audience but argued the opposing position. Draft 1.3 is a letter written from the decision maker back to the student. No side for the argument is specified. In draft 1.4 students returned to draft 1.1-2 were they were writing to the decision maker. It is a fuller, finished persuasive argument toward this decision maker. The drafting sequence is very interesting and while the writer takes different perspectives in draft 1.2 and 1.3, the same core issue and arguments remains the same. My one concern with this loop is that the Writing Review topic is not so great. It prompts the writer to do two things: identify peer suggestions and “how you will improve because of them,” and relate two things from some reading that the writer will do (or are doing) that will improve the draft. What I will be interested to see is how much writers go beyond these prompts to use this activity to engage in reflective thinking.

The second 1302 loop goes from draft 2.1 to 2.2. This loop represents my only non-last draft loop, so I will be interested in what it shows. Draft 2.1 is a Research Proposal and involved identifying and describing the writer’s choices for topic, research question, and audience/purpose. It even asks for these items to be identified with sub-headings. As such, it really isn’t the draft but more of an invention document. Draft 2.2 is described as “Revising the Research Proposal” and represents a more detailed and refined proposal. It asks the writer to share primary and secondary research questions and list at least three subject areas that “you will research.” In the essay cycle, the students go on to write two more drafts and an annotated bibliography, so we have the preliminary planning and shaping of the research project in draft 2.1 to 2.2. The movement between these two loops, however, clearly represents a second and more refined attempt at the same task.

This is a large sample of student work, perhaps too large. However, I feel that I want a closer and broader look at the place of the writing review within the draft to draft essay cycle.

How is Slice 5 “concept driven?” How is this theoretical sampling? What hypotheses about relationships between categories will I be verifying?

As I look at slice 5 is seems more oriented to get a representative sample. Corbin and Strauss state that, “Sampling in grounded theory proceeds not in terms of drawing samples of specific groups of individuals, units of time, and so on, but in terms of concepts, their properties, dimensions, and variables.” I certainly appear to be pulling from particular groups. However, I also desire to build as much possible basis for comparison as I can. That is why I wanted both 1301 and 1302 students in this slice. So what are the concepts and hypotheses I will be exploring in this slice?

Slice 4 asked the question about what role writing reviews played in a single students entire freshman composition experience 1301-1302. It sought to gain a broad perspective on these reflective activities within both the development of essays and the movement from essay to essay during an entire semester. This big picture view was fruitful, and I emerged from slice 4 with deeper insights and more questions.

The importance of “essay success”—I found in slice 4 that the conception of “essay success” was enormously important for both identifying problems and proposing revisions to fix the problem. Essay success represents the textual and rhetorical features of the essay that meet the assignment and writing situation. It is the goal everyone is trying to reach. The influence this concept has on the entire process is pervasive, and a large goal of this slice 5 coding is to verify and “densify” my understanding of the dynamics at work surrounding this concept.

I also saw a repeated pattern that almost all writing reviews followed. I postulated that this pattern is prompted by the writing review topics and the paradigm of error/correction thinking with which students approach the writing review (and revision). The pattern generally follows a sequence where X is considered in terms of whether if “fit in bounds.” It is held up and measured against the concept of essay success. At this point the writer “comes to know” something that leads them to articulate a revision/writing goal. Again the selection of this goal as well as the strategies and tactics is shaped by notions of essay success. What I am seeing, thus, within the data I have coded so far is how important this understanding of essay success is for making choices and solving problems within the writing process.

Coming to Know and It’s Complicated Relationship with Revision
I found three common patterns within slice 4 that I’d like to verify in slice 5 as well. They were:
--to see is to know and to do (successfully)
--to miss-see is to miss-know and to miss-do
--to see is to know and not be able to do/or choose not to do
This finding has to do with the role of awareness and the emergence of new insight or thinking. Probably the two most common subjects to “come to know” about are the nature of the problem and what the solution should/will be. I am interested, of course, in the relationship I can see between the thinking in their Writing Reviews and the revisions they make in the next draft. Right now, it appears to be a complicated relationship.

But here we get into deeper questions I have had all along about these writer’s reviews. Many are filled with reporting of actions and previous thinking. Many articulate awarenesses, but rarely engage in evaluation of these awarenesses or explore multiple possible viewpoints and suggestions about the problem or solution. Judging them by notions of reflection from Higgins and Flower, these students’ awareness does not rise to the level of reflective thinking. Why is there so much reporting? How much active reflective thinking occurs within these writing reviews? Do we see students “coming to know” via reflection done INSIDE the activity of the writing review (i.e. the writing triggered the insight) or does the reflection REPORT a coming to know that occurred OUTSIDE the actual writing of the review. What place does reporting reflective thinking have?

These are questions that I am interested in pursuing more deeply. I feel like looking at this slice 5 sample will help me find out answers to these questions because
a) it is a whole loop, so I will see the relationship of the reflection draft to draft
b) I will look at 12 students’ work, so I will get a broader view than from the single student as before

A significant goal of this slice is to develop my concepts more in terms of their “dimensions” and “properties.” I have incorporated elements of these properties in the long names I have for concepts. For instance, look at this category I have:
Considering/evaluating how/why is (and what could/should/may/must/will be)
A big goal of mine will be to record in more detailed terms the properties of these concepts and the dimensions of each property. So far, I have not systematically charted these out, and I’d like to do that some. One passage from Strauss illustrates this kind of coding: “One procedure that contributes measurably to densifying is that data are coded … in terms of cross cutting dimensions (for instance, external connections that are safe; external connectiosn that are unsafe; external unsafe connections that are frightening; internal connections that are safe and frightening and uncomfortable, etc. ).” This effort to cross-cut dimensions should prove interesting.

I am near ready to begin coding, but I am spending a bit of time refreshing my memory about both how to code and about what my previous coding has revealed. I need to keep pressing. The goal of this slice will be to solidify my categories and begin to densify my emerging theories about relationships between these categories.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Whale Draft Review

Last Friday I turned in my draft of the Lit Review for my dissertation. I have christened it the Whale draft. Since my Proposal was essentially my Chapter 1 of the dissertation, I put it together with my lit review. The monster came in at roughly 59,000 words and 138 pages single spaced (not including the Works Cited which I didn't do for this draft). Whale draft indeed.

As I turn now to focus on finishing my research, I want to do some thinking about what I have gained from this review. My thinking is fairly scattered, so to give it shape I will coalesce "things" or "take aways" or insights gained.

1. I think I see more clearly the two flavors of reflection that I have titled rhetorical reflection and curricular reflection. The key distinguishing factor seems to be WHEN the reflection is done, and that timing to a large degree is dictated by WHY the reflection is done. I see how much in education we have been dominated by post-task reflection. These approaches seem rooted oddly enough in thinking coming out of Experiential learning (i.e. Boud et al.). It could be that Boud is representative of this trend toward using reflection to process past experiences rather than generative in his own right. The Deweyian approach toward reflection that begins with a puzzle or problem and seeks in an on-going and present sense to solve the problem is neglected.

So my lit review has given me a broad basis for saying my own subject of research is one that is needed more attention. I think I established this "gap" in my elaboration of rhet/comp's "portfolio-centric" view of reflection. I don't know if that term works, but I have sure fallen into using it.

2. Another gain from this lit review is a much deeper sense of what I refer to as the "Open Question" about reflection. I have established fairly well what I call the "value-added assumption" about reflection. (This term is another one I coined and I hope makes sense). We impute certain values and outcomes to reflection; however, these don't always happen. So the discrepancy between our theories about reflection and what we really know about it constitutes the second gap which my research seeks to enter or justify itself based upon. This discrepancy is at the heart of the Open Question. Because reflection does not appear to fulfill its promise "enough," we have questions about whether and how we should use it.

3. Depth. I can say that this lit review has provided me with substantial depth for my eventual lit review. I seems likely that the actual lit review will emerge from my "Story of reflection in composition/rhetoric"and that in appropriate places I will infuse background information from Boud, Mezirow, Moon, and Schon. I won't have to have separate sections on these theorists (I think), but I will be able to discuss them in reference to writing and reflection. I now have a much firmer understanding and grounding in these different theorists/scholars work on reflection, so I can summarize their work with more confidence.

4. The work of King and Kitchener looms large in my thinking. I found enough evidence in other research in composition confirming their developmental theories that I feel as if I had an article I could put together just on this coalescence. Maybe, just maybe the problems surrounding student reflections might be caused by the fact that collect students are in a pre-reflective or quasi-reflective stage of cognitive development. They are not ready to engage in reflective thinking! What does this mean for my research? What sort of thinking can we expect students to engage in within writer's reviews? I will have to keep my eyes open but try as best as I can not to let their theories prejudice my observations.

5. I believe that I have found much evidence for "it depends" and "what it depends on" in relation to reflection. Whether students engage in what we might call productive reflection (where our assumptions about the value-added benefits of reflection are realized or nearly realized) depends upon a number of factors. Schon's four factors, as well as factors related to task representation, knowledge, and cognitive development, and then even the support offered by the learning context for reflection, all appear to be significant "dependent" factors or causal variables. Can we say one stands out among the others? Will the level of cognitive development trump all the others?

6. The literature review process has provided pretty good fodder to justify my methodology of grounded theory. This justification comes from two sources. Since we have accepted assumptions and focused on developing the habit of reflection, we have not asked enough exactly what is going on and how it works. We have not dug into its actual mechanics (I don't like that term). Grounded theory digs into the mechanics. Also, we have nearly always used other theories to make sense of reflections (like Anson using Halliday) rather than see what sort of sense these reflections make on their own. This justification for another approach to researching reflection is in a way experimental in that others have not done it before (rather than testing anything other than perhaps the methodology of grounded theory). I feel that my methodological argument is suspect to a degree, but I think I can present it as it is with its own limitations. I have a feeling that the most powerful aspect of my dissertation may be in how it links to other theories/theorists in reflection. Maybe. I don't know.

7. This lit review really got cut off. Since I received my "get to it" message from Fred and Rich, I have tried to bring the lit review to a more rapid close. Where did I not go in as depth as I wanted to? I really wanted to spend more time on the cognitivists, especially Flower's work (and her collaborative work with many others). I also felt like I could have done a lot more with Beireter and Scarmadalia. I was not able to do the thorough review on their work like I had done for Boud, Schon, and King and Kitchener. This gap may come back to bite me later on. We shall see. Still, I did put together what I felt was references to key ideas expressed by the cognitivists.

8. I'm left with lots of article ideas in my head. Here are just a few:
--I ended up gravitating toward graphical representations more and more in the lit review. I have enough models or graphics depicting different models of reflection, I thought I could do a whole article looking at these models. A collection of graphics on reflection.
--I think I could do an article on confirmations of K&K's theories inside composition research. These would almost be like circumstantial evidence confirming the work of King and Kitchener
--An article critiquing the portfolio-centric perspective on reflection that we maintain. This persists with the focus on transfer.
--I'd love to do a retrospective article reviewing the work of Flower and the National Center on Research in Writing. Their research articles are quite amazing.
--I also felt that more could be done related to Schon's four constants of reflection, particularly his notion of "appreciative systems." I think the four constants could be quite productive lenses for pursuing research.

For the time being, this literature review will lie low. I can't put it completely out of my head, but as I turn once again to data analysis, I must be conscious of looking at the data upon its own merits and understanding it for what it is first. I can't ignore this theory, and eventually it will provide rich substance for interpretation, but I must not let it predetermine or bias what I am looking for or what I think I am seeing (as much as that is possible).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reviewing Chris Anson's “Talking About Writing: A Classroom-based Study of Student Reflections on Their Drafts.”

I will now examine in more detail Chris Anson’s investigation discussed in “Talking About Writing: A Classroom-based Study of Student Reflections on Their Drafts.” This study, along with Sharon Pianko’s, are the only two research studies within rhetoric/composition that use the terminology of reflection as they focus on in-task reflection.

In some ways, Anson’s research can be seen as an extension of Pianko’s work. Both researchers are trying to learn more about the novice writers in composition classrooms by comparing them to expert writers. Pianko’s experimental study concluded that a key difference between the writing processes of these two groups was the reflective pauses and rescanning that occurred while these writers wrote. In her study, she had students compose an essay within one classroom period and observed them as they wrote. She also questioned them right after they wrote. From this research, she noticed not only a difference in the number of pauses, but a difference in their quality as well. She describes the pauses of the remedial writers as “unfilled” because they looked outside their writing as they paused. For the more experienced, traditional group of freshman writers, she noticed a pattern in their pauses:

When I observed these students writing, I noticed a pattern: they paused, rescanned, then paused again. These behaviors were indicative of certain mental processes: a pause was to plan or “rehearse” (to use Don Murray’s term) what to write next—what Janet Emig calls a “filled pause”—a rescanning to reorient oneself with the writing to see if the “rehearsal” was a fit, and again a pause to reformulate or revise the mental plan or “rehearsal.” (276)

Pianko describes these pauses and rescannings as the behavioral manifestation of reflection during composing and claims this behavior is the most significant finding about the composing process of her study. She concludes, “The ability to reflect on what is being written seems to be the essence of the difference between able and not so able writers” (277). The implication for teaching she advocates, then, is for teachers to incorporate teaching strategies into their curriculum that would promote proficiency in these behaviors of reflective pausing and rescanning.
--important echos with Bereiter and Scarmandalia, even Schon’s reflective conversation with the situation going from what is in the head to what is on the page, what is on the page is the situation of action

Anson’s focus of inquiry is a bit different. His interest is on how writers represent emerging texts through retrospective accounts of their writing, or what he calls reflective metacommentary. Whereas Pianko focused on what Anson calls “the ‘live’ or ‘concurrent’ processes of writing”(62)—similar to that performed by cognitive researchers like Emig and Flower and Hayes when they examined composing-aloud protocols—Anson is interested in retrospective accounts of in-progress drafts. In contrast to composing-aloud protocols, Anson claims these retrospective accounts allow writers to reveal both tacit and focal decisions as they composed. The terms focal and tacit come from Polyani’s description of different aspects of thought. Focal refers to our conscious thought and what we are attending to, while tacit knowledge is predominantly unconscious and refers to those decisions and strategies we make and do without thinking about them. Anson states that our understanding about the thinking that goes on as writers compose and the relationship between focal and tacit thought “is at best murky” (62). He believes retrospective accounts offer a “representation, or model, of writing” (63) where the researcher can better see the thinking of a writer:

retrospective accounts allow writers opportunities to uncover tacit decisions as well as focal ones. The process of standing outside their writing, looking it over, recalling what they did when they composed it, and thinking about what else they need to do taps into both the conscious creation and manipulation of text and what may have been, at the time, decisions made in the background of their attention. (62-63)

These retrospective accounts are not without their critics and limitations. These critiques include the limitations of the subject’s memory, the influence from the prompt on what the writer recalls, and the tendency for writers to embellish what happened (63). Tomlinson, as Anson points out, has identified the real strengths of these retrospective accounts: “although these accounts may not be useful in trying to understand precisely what happens during the writing process, they show us the writer’s representation of the writing event and its context” (Anson 63). These representations show us a window into how the writer thinks about their own writing and act of writing. Citing the work of T.B. Finley, Anson elaborates on the what these narratives about the composing of a text offer: “retrospective accounts give us insight into the writer’s knowledge, modes of inquiry, relationship to the text, social construction of an audience, stance, role, and routines” (63). As data, then, these retrospective accounts of in progress drafts are a rich source for researching students’ perspectives on writing.

It is worth noting that Anson’s data source closely resembles the Writer’s Reviews that form the main data for this inquiry. Each is a reflective account performed between drafts. A few differences exist, however. Whereas Writer’s Reviews are done in writing and done in response to a prompt, the retrospective accounts Anson examines were done verbally (into a tape recorder) and were not guided by strict prompts. Also, Anson’s reflective metacommentaries occur between only the first and second draft; whereas, Writer’s Reviews are done between first and second as well as second and third drafts. Despite these differences, Anson’s subject of inquiry closely resembles the focus for this research study. His arguments for what these reflective accounts reveal, then, provide a strong confirmation for the richness of Writing Reviews as a focus for research. Anson’s stance toward researching these pieces of reflection, however, differs in one significant way. He looks at these reflective accounts in a similar way as researchers studied transcripts of compose-aloud protocols—as a way to tap into writers’ thinking. My inquiry certainly is interested in what these accounts reveal about writers’ thinking between drafts, but it is also interested in what having students reflect in this way does. If we return for a moment to Flower’s “open questions” about reflection, we can see her two questions within the different stances toward this data between Anson and this inquiry. Flower’s first question was what kind of knowledge reflection generates, and we can see that Anson’s inquiry explores this epistemological dimension of reflection. Flower’s second question asks if having students perform reflections as a pedagogical activity is worthwhile (is it just a luxury?). This second question addresses the value-added assumptions we have about the benefits of having students reflect, and it is a question that Anson does not address. This inquiry differs from Anson’s because it approaches these reflective accounts for what pedagogical influence asking students to perform them has upon their thinking and writing. It asks not just what these reflections show but also what they might do.

Anson’s research is interesting not only because of his different stance toward the data, but also for how he approached the analysis of this data. In order to “move beyond mere impressions” in his analysis of these retrospective accounts, he turns to Halliday’s theory’s of language. He leans on theory to help him make sense of this data: “I found Halliday’s (1973) functional approach in language best captured what I was observing informally in the taped accounts” (64). He interpolates Halliday’s theory so that in his analysis he coded the ideational function as referring to content matters, the interpersonal function as referring to discussions of audience and purpose, and the textual function as referring to discussions of the formal and linguistic features of the writing on the page. These categories proved useful to Anson, but interestingly he also noted the significance of the kairotic nature of these reflective accounts: “The more tapes I studied, the more compelling became this orientation of time in the students’ talk” (65). This observation about the importance of time leads him to generate three more categories for students’ discussions about their writing: retrospective comments focusing on the past, projective comments focused on what the writer intends or wants to do in the future, and temporal comments where the writer talks about the text as it is in the present tense. Anson then put these two sets of categories into a grid with Halliday’s theoretical concepts along one axis and the temporal aspects along the other axis:




Temporal Retrospective Projective

Figure NHY: Anson’s coding grid for analyzing between-draft reflections

This coding scheme, however elegant and sensible, differs also from this inquiry’s approach to analyzing similar reflective pieces of writing. By using theory to make sense of data, Anson has done what Glaser and Strauss say often leads to a bias or predisposition in our perception of the phenomena of study. These categories may account for much that is going on within student reflections, but they also may miss or ignore other features. As a grounded theory study, this research project seeks to generate a theory from the data rather than impose any theory upon the data.

As Anson analyzed his students’ reflective accounts of their writing, he particularly sought to find differences between strong, proficient writers and poor writers in his classes. Anson observed that the reflective accounts of weaker writers who lacked control in their writing talked almost exclusively in retrospective and textual terms. Stronger writers who displayed much more control in their writing process were observed to shift among functional and temporal categories. Weak writers spoke in dualistic terms where writing was seen to be either “correct” or “incorrect.” These writers also had little capacity for uncertainty and tended to defer to authority. Looking to Newman’s extension of Perry’s model of intellectual development, Anson fit these writers into Newman’s stage of Absolutism. In this stage of attitudes toward knowledge, individuals “[believe] in the absolute truth or falsity of knowledge” (70). Although not referring to the work of King and Kitchener’ Model of Reflective Judgment, these writers would fall within the stage of pre-reflective thinkers. More proficient writers, in contrast, fell within Newman’s third stage called Evaluativism where the individual “accepts various opinions and beliefs, but does so from a conviction that some ideas are more valid (better reasoned, more logical, etc.) than others” (70). These writers might entertain multiple suggestions for revising a problematic feature of their writing before deciding upon the best path for revision. In these writers he also noticed a relationship between tentativeness or the ability to accept and explore uncertainty and the writers’ ownership of their future decisions. These writers seemed more able to assess problems within their writing and work to solve them.

In contrast, the weaker writers were much more focused upon outside authority for making decisions about their writing and seemed incapable of acknowledging uncertainty. Particularly present within these writers’ minds was their image of this outside authority and standard of correctness: “Instead they measure their texts against what must be a very sketchy, nebulous image of the teachers ‘standards,’ an image they try to fill in and clarify from various sources (including direct appeal)” (70). This writerly superego dominates their model of writing and limits their activity of writing within its bounds. Not surprisingly, Anson finds that these writers don’t reach any level of reflective thinking: “Ironically, the tapes themselves, designed to create an opportunity for reflection, become for these students an extension of the process of teacherly judgment” (70). Placed in a position to reflect, these writers are unable to do so.

Anson ends his article stressing two points. The first point is his key finding from his informal study: “Although no informal analysis like this one can yield foolproof conclusions or razor-sharp patterns, it appears that there is a strong relationship between proficiency and the blending/shifting of functions in scheme I had developed” (72). Put in other terms, Anson finds a strong correlation between students’ ability to engage in reflective thinking and their competence in writing. His second concluding point has to do with the implications of his research for teaching writing. His research has indicated the significance of how students think about and represent their writing. He believes that as teachers we need to focus as much or even more on developing students’ models of writing as their success on any particular writing assignment: “I have come to value the development of their [students] models of writing even more than I value the improvement of their texts” (73). He shares his own methods for moving students toward more evaluatistic and reflective thinking through the kinds of assignments and feedback he gives to his students.

Anson’s research upon reflective writing that closely resembles the kind this inquiry is focused on has a number of important implications for this research. His observation that strong writers are also good reflectors raises a number of questions. What link exactly is there between these two capacities? Does good reflection cause good writing? Also, where does the capacity for strong reflection come from? Is it as King and Kitchener imply something determined by their developmental stage of epistemic cognition? Anson’s observations seem to provide strong confirmation that students’ developmental level of views of knowledge, in fact, does have a strong influence upon both their type of thinking and their writing. However, can we prompt a growth in students’ reflective thinking, and if prompted will students’ produce more proficient writing? Anson seems to believe we can at the least move students in that direction. He states, “By asking students to tell me more about their intentions, I can prompt them to go beyond a mere report of ‘having done something’ and towards a discussion of their struggles and possible directions” (73). This question surrounding the teacherly prompting and promoting of reflective thinking through the assigning of reflective writing tasks is what this inquiry is all about. If provided guidance and the opportunity, will students truly reflect? Can we say that development is possible through this prompting, and what influence does engaging students in this teacher-prompted reflection have upon their writing? As my inquiry seeks it own answers to these questions, the work of Anson will certainly offer important perspectives.