Posted in MA Thesis

Road to MA Thesis: Getting things done!

Quick Introduction 

Hi all! My name is Patricia Dennis (P for short). Quite honestly, I can not really complain about my time during COVID. I was pretty sad about not being able to do my summer internship, but other amazing opportunities did happen for me! I am not going to go so in depth about my fortunate outcomes, as I do not want this blog to be all about that. What I would like to share is my … RESEARCH PROJECT!

Story time: Back story to my research idea

I am going to turn into a major “Nerd” but these three acadmics/scholars have been the driving force to my epiphany of my thesis project: Professor Donald Murray, Dr. Charles Nelson, and the great Peter Elbow! Through these amazing scholars, I was able to start, refine, and now ready to execute my thesis research project! In a sense, my research idea was kind of beginning to form in my Writing Theory & Practice course where I was first introduced to the Writing Process. Professor Donald Murray, who claims in his article, Teaching Writing as a Process not Product; this idea of teaching writing in the form of a process and not just an only end product, made a lot of sense to me. So much sense, that I started to question why I never heard of this “writing process” before, even though this claim was made in the 1970’s. This is where Dr. Nelson comes into play. My Research & Methodologies course is where I discovered the question that was born through my two years experience as an AmeriCorps member (I will have that experience soon available, as it pertains to my research question!). During my time with Dr. Nelson, he truly mentored me through using research methodologies; not just during the spring semester, but also throughout this past summer … he has been nothing short of amazing. The one advice he continued to repeat throughout the summer to me was, “You must find that gap of literature to aid in your research questions (which I will provide at the end of this lovely blog, so please hang on!). Here is where, last but certainly not least, Mr. Peter Elbow is introduced! Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, written by Peter Elbow gives a very extensive breakdown on how to approach various ways to go through the process of writing. This book is literally the holy grail to my research! With that said, I can now get to the nitty gritty of what my research question is, the scholarly research I intend to produce, and my end product that will be a part of my PhD application.

As I stated previously, I was lucky enough to start my research interest in the Spring 2020 semester. This year has been an express train of educatioction, I have not stopped since the spring semester! And again, THANK YOU SO MUCH DR. NELSON! He served as my unofficial/official advisor throughout the process of polishing my research proposal and other supplement material to hand into the IRB. So here is where I am right now: Time to implement the research.

Here is the research!

The title of my research is shown in the beginning of this post: The Adventures of the Writing Process (TAWP). My research interest is turning this idea of the writing process (with my own modification and adaptation of the MIT Writing Process) into a free online digital instruction for young writers. From my currently pursued education at NJIT, I am learning new technical skills to turn my idea of teaching the writing process into a digital platform.Taking the Advanced Information Design course at NJIT opened my eyes to instructional design and the importance of it in today’s classrooms (that’s a post for another day!). I also have this experience documented in my site as it is a vital part of my research and how I created my digital instructional database. I will have my research proposal available for view soon, once I submit it to the IRB.

This part of my thesis is dedicated to turning theory into practice, and using my research and creation to help young writers (between grades 3rd – 5th). I am currently waiting to hear back from another AmeriCorps position so that I can do my research at the school I will possibly serve. AmeriCorps for a possible third year in a row! I plan/hope that the end product to this research will be a research result article and possibly an ebook that will act as a “map” on this adventure. Hopefully I can make this book in my Electronic Literatureand New Media and Design courses this semester!

With that said, I am excited to start this adventure and to see where it takes my always curious mind. Until then, Namaste my fellow writing scholar cohorts!

Posted in Research & Methodologies

Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis, and Grounded Theory


This article gives a breakdown of the following qualative methodologies: Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis, and Grounded Theory. Within the artile, Starks and Trinidad gives a simplistic breakdown of these methodoligies as in defining them, explaining how data is collected, how to go about using the methods, and etc. This article really gets down to the nitty gritty and puts theory into practice (obviously my favorite saying at this point); these methodologies were put into use, using the same research topic in the health filed involoving Primary Care physiciand and prostate screen caring. Each methodology poses its own questions with t e set of data given for the research.


I belive this article gives a great simplistic but informative breakdwon of these three methodologies, while also giving a great research to follow behind. Even though at this point of the semester, I already have an inderstanding of these methodologies, this article reassures me of my undersatnding. The authors explanations of this artcile, and the fact that it is short and sweet, made the reading even more enjoyable! I was a bit worried about the topic, due to being in the health field, but breakdown of the study made it so easy to understand. Quite honestly, this article is in my top 5 articles from this semester.

Turning Theory into Practice: Using this information in my own studies!

At this point in the semester, I am doing my last bits of cleanup for my research proposal paper! My main focus is to finish up my litearture review and breaking down the methodology I will be using (good old Grounded Theory!). I belive I will be using this article because it gives me an even better undersatnding of Grounded Theory and how to go about using it. My research topic does not having anything to do within the health field, but I am using the one of the methodologies and having more information to simplify it makes completing my proposal much easier.

Posted in Research & Methodologies

Computers in Human Behaviors


The base of this article is discusses the phenomenon of online classroom discussion surrounded around these two proposed research questions: (a)How do students’ uniqueness – seeking needa relatae to the different discource moves they exhibit in online discussion? (b) What does a comparison of dicource moves and feelings about the online discussion (enjoyment and engagment) across the semester reveal about students withdiffrent uniqness – seeking needs? The research was conducted through 13 graduate – level students, in the setting of an onlince clasroom. The groups were broken up into 4 subgropus catogorized as: Group 1 (high contributors), Groiup 2 (mid contributors), Group 3 (low contributors), and a special case. The data was drawn using the discource anaalytic approach and constant comparison coding.


This article was very helpful to my own research interest! As far as I can see, there is reall a gap in literatuer for this article (again, not a true professional). This article was simplistic in a term that I was able to follow along while also making my own mental ties. This article has a lot of relevence to it, espically now that under these curcumstances, students are pratically glued to their screens! But any who, I enjoyed reading this article.

Turing Theory into Practice: Making Connects!

I recall in the early stages of the semester when Dr. Nelson explained how articles embed (non technical terms) within articles can ultimately help us in our own research inquiries. Quietly honestly, I had no idea what the was talking about. But now, approximately 3 classes away from this semester being over… I get it! I plan use this article (and others embed into it) to finish off my last couple of articles needed for my Research Proposal. Another takeaway from this article is the formatting I would like to go with within discussing my literature review. The Background literature in this particular article was laid out very simplistic and easy to follow. I like to format my scholarly work in way that is simplistic for not all, but most to understand!

Posted in Research & Methodologies

Impact on advanced academic literacy development


In this article, Orna Ferenz (PhD in Linguistics) conducts an experiment based on L2 English learner, NNSE graduate students, with experience in a required EFL academic writing course. Each participant within the study holds different degrees, study backgrounds, and native language: 2 PhD, 4 MA; 5 Hebrew native speaker and 1 Russian native speaker. This study shows how a socially driven environment has an impact on the students’ advancement in English literacy skills. Ferenz wants to know if social networking beyond the basic groups (ex: teachers, classmates, advisory, and etc) will progress the students’ abilities in building social and academic relationships.This research conducted interviews and post interviews to collect data from the participants. 

My Thoughts

In my personal opinion, I believe there should have been more participants. Even though it was pretty simple to follow through (thank you!), I think the research would have came out a lot different. Six people can not generate enough information to go off. Referring to Megan’s post:

“I think this study could have been done differently. Out of 31, 200, to choose only six representatives ( 5 females and 1 male), is not proper. I understand choosing different academic departments, but I think Ferenz could’ve used more samples, split the six into an equal gender amount (3 boys and 3 girls), or expand the study outside the university to possibly other universities with similar departments and/or increased the length of time for the study (half a year).”

I totally agree with Megan in the sense of adding more diversity. But now even questioning Ferenz research, it makes me ponder on my own…

Making Connections

In a way, my research approach is somewhat similar to Ferenz (specifically surveys being conducted.. possibly some interviews). I am hoping that I have at least 10 students using my program (T.A.W.P) and fun fact.. a lot of the students I will be working with are L2 learners (Spanish and Creole being the native languages). My expected time frame of working with them is September 2020 – November 2020. Obviously my subjects are much younger and do not hold the educational background as the subjects in Ferenz study, but there are some common ground: L2 learners, all at the same school, etc.

Posted in Research & Methodologies

The Reason behind my madness; Back story of my research!

Upon entering into Spring 2020 semester, I had an idea of what type of job field I wanted to enter into. From Summer 2019 up until now, blogging and using the digital space is something I have grown accustomed to through using this method in the M.A. Writing Studies program. With that said, I decided to delve into the world of technical writing. Even though I knew I wanted to continue my writing studies academics into technical writing, I was not sure how narrow I was in my search. I knew I liked to write in the digital space; I wanted to get into technical writing; and I wanted to use this career field to educate students… but how? That is when this semester of Spring 2020 opened up a world of possibilities!

Not only am I currently a student at Kean, but I am also a part time graduate student at NJIT. Within this semester at NJIT, I am currently taking Advanced Information Design. The core of this course is to pick an interesting topic that I am knowledgeable about to creating an eLearning tutorial. Knowing in the back of my mind that I potentially want to use the Writing Process for my thesis project, I decided to go with turning the Writing Process into my topic of my ID course. As I continued to learn more about Instructional Design and apply my knowledge of the Writing Process to my project, an idea popped in my head; “This eLearning is actually coming out pretty cool! Now how can I put this to practical use?” My target audience for this project is 3rd grade students, so why not use real 3rd grade students? This is where my research took a turn in the perfection direction! Not only will this tool be potentially impact, I am also gaining experience in the practical use of Instructional Design. I am excited to see where this research takes me!

Posted in Research & Methodologies

The Adventures of The Writing Project: 1st Draft Research Proposal

During my time serving as a Reading Coach under the organization AmeriCorps, I was assigned within a 2nd grade English Language Arts class. Within the two years, 2018-2020, that I have served, I noticed a common phenomenon that appeared for each class of 2nd grade students I worked with. These 2nd grade students had and continue to have struggles within approaching writing. The issue of writing that I am referring to is not the physical mechanics of writing (i.g. Handwriting, constructing sentences, spelling, etc.), what I am referring to is the process of writing. 

The Writing Process can be defined as the following: A writing process describes the series of physical and mental actions that people take in the course of producing any kind of text. With that said, coming into my second term as a Reading Coach alongside my first year as a graduate student within the M.A. in English Writing Studies program, I have come to an understanding of this phenomenon within my classroom. My research study is to test the effectiveness of my program T.A.W.P in aiding students with the Writing Process. 

Currently in my first semester as a part-time online graduate student at NJIT, I am taking the Advanced Information Design course. Within this course, we were assigned to pick a topic that we would like to turn into an eLearning course module; the topic should be an area of study that we are both passionate about and have knowledge on. I chose teaching the Writing Process to 3rd students, to help aid in the learning gap when approaching writing. The T.A.W.P program is the variable at play, that I am testing to see if it will cause a change in the students’ learning.

Below is a screenshot of my eLearning (T.A.W.P) content home page:

Posted in Research & Methodologies

A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated

Overview of Article

This article first starts off by giving a brief history of the origin of Phenomenology; originating with German philosophizer, Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). In the most simplistic way, phenomenology is defined be the following: “…based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events (“phenomena”) as they are perceived or understood in the human consciousness, and not of anything independent of human consciousness.” The article also goes on to give the essential break down to understand how to approach this research methodology. For more “visual learners”, here is a YouTube that was very helpful to me when understanding this methodology:

Turning Theory into Practice: Applying Phenomenology to Art!

Like many of my post about these different methodologies, I try to make sense of them by applying it to my own research question. In the case of this methodology, I aim to take a different approach; in stead of applying this theory to my own research question, I will apply it to my original love… Art! Since phenomenology is the methodology associated with the phenomenon of how humans experience reality, I believe the studying of my own art goes well wit it! If you have time, please take a glimpse through this article… it is what gave me the idea to use phenomenology in this way. For clarification, this is not a full on research, but more so a test drive of the methodology in a simplistic form. I will be using the format used in the above article I summarized.

The research paradigm of a study undertaken

The selection of topic I will be going with is the following: How does my experience and understanding within me reading different novels showcase through my art? I am pretty sure this question can defined way better, but we will go with this for now. I think this research method is good for my question because like the article said, “Phrenologists, in contrast to positivists, believe that the researcher cannot be detached from his/her own presupposition and the researcher should not pretend otherwise.” In short, I am to put my already prejudged ideas about my own art and how I experience them.

Locating the research participants/informants

In the case of my “research question”, I am my own research participant.

Data-gathering methods

The way the data would be gather for my research question is by collecting and keep track of each painting/art design I do for each book that I read in the span of time that I will do the research.

Data-storing methods

I would keep digitized version of each art piece alongside the books.

Explicitation of the data

Validity and truthfulness

Since this is my sample mini version of the research methodology, I stopped at Explicitaion due to me not completely understanding! With that, it was interesting to put this theory to the text.


Posted in Research & Methodologies

Discourse Analysis

Basic Overview of Reading

I would like to first start off by defining Discourse Analysis: “In discourse analysis, the context of a conversation is taken into account as well as what’s being said. This context may encompass a social and cultural framework, including the location of a speaker at the time of the discourse, as well as nonverbal cues such as body language, and, in the case of textual communication, it may also include images and symbols (hyperlink:” 

This article is basically addressing how to collect, analyze and in a sense evaluate how data that infers statements, speeches, news, reports, announcements, expressions, and etc. Any and all related to the information and understandings, assumptions, perceptions, attitudes, opinions, or awareness of the employees about IS.

Turning Theory into Practice! My Attempt to Conduct Discourse Analysis…

Bringing it back to practicality and applying this information to my own research question. The population of people my research question is based around are minors (3rd grade students). Discourse analysis is a research method for studying written or spoken language in relation to its social context (hyperlink: Within this article, it gives a basic breakdown of how to conduct discourse analysis. And here, I implement my favorite phrase: “Being practical! Turning theory into practice.”.

Step 1: Define the research question and select the content of analysis

“What is the effectiveness of implementing the digital writing program, T.A.W.P, into a 3rd Grade classroom?”

I am looking into how a digital writing eLearning tool can aid with 3rd Grade students writing. There are many educational programs designed for reading and phoenix. In contrast, there are many programs that teach the motor skills of how to write, but I lack to see any approach writing in interpersonal humanistic form; as in the Writing Process. 

Step 2: Gather information and theory on the context

Currently, I am still obtaining my articles of material to give me deeper insight on how to answer my question and ways to approach my instructional material

Step 3: Analyze the content for themes and patterns

This process will be done in alignment with the designated school where the field study will be done.

Step 4: Review your results and draw conclusions

When I draw conclusions, I plan to apply these results from the field study to make necessary changes to the e Learning content, while also developing new learning content.  

Bonus Track!

I am very fortunate to meet the most interesting intellectuals throughout my everyday life! My dear friend and future colleague, Tony Ellis, broke down to me the underlying variables and all that fun stuff into my research question. He is a fellow graduate student who attends Montclair State University and will graduate this upcoming May with his M.A. in Physiology. Just as I. Tony is really into research and wishes to continue his studies as a researcher! Here is a short discussion we had about my research question:

Ted Talk with Tony!

Other Sources

Posted in Research & Methodologies

101 of Case Study Research!

Summary of the Reading

This article gives the reader the breakdown of not just Case Study Research but how to apply practically with student researchers. Case Study Research can be defined as the following: A research strategy and an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. Case studies are based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group or event to explore the causes of underlying principles. In the case of this article, it goes on to use a case study in nursing. This research methodology is often taught in qualitative research and mostly used in the social sciences to understand a particular situation involving a person or a particular group. For more clarification, I watched this youtube video to help me get a better understanding (which really helped!)

Thinking Practical: My thoughts and rebuttal to the Reading

Like all the readings, I like to try to understand the research methodology by putting into practical terms with my own research question: What is the effectiveness of implementing a digital writing tool designed by me, into a 3rd Grade ELA classroom. Even though I am preferbally drawn to the Grounded Theory for my particular research question (Patricia ‘Grounded Theory’ Dennis), I still see ways that I can also use Case Study Research as well. So in this post, I will do a kind of test run through some of the components presented in the article with this theory to display my understanding of it.

Prior to Beginning

The article states, “Time in the field, lengthy interviews and transcription and analysis are all factors that should be thought out well in advance of engaging with participants.” Tieng this back to my own research question, my work as a Reading Coach within a 2nd Grade class for a duration of an entire school year is considered my time in the field. During this duration of time is where I am interacting, engaging, and gathering information on the case: my 2nd Grade students.

Obviously, it would almost be virtually impossible to try and go through this an entire Case Study Research in one week, so I also decided to source another article to give an even more simple breakdown of this research methodology.

“Identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem. A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions.”: In the case of my research question it would inlet going through the students bench mark assessments, previous work, and etc.

Does the case represent an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? This may be a bias opinion but in the case of my current 2nd Grade class, they are a case that is unusually low learning level with a continuous representation of that.

Does the case provide important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? Yes, yes, and yes! As I stated previously, these particular group of students are known for having low testing and subject matter grades. This issues has been very apparent to me while working with them. This is how my research question was born!

This article goes on to further breakdown the questions, process, and steps to take in order to see if your proposed questions fits the framework of Case Study Research.


Quite honestly, in my opinion I think this type of research methodology would be ideal for those looking to solve underling issues that are not either addressed or solved. I think this research methodology would best fit when trying to solve issues within a classroom (speaking the perspective of a teacher, Ms. P!)

Other sources I used:,