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CLeaR Fellows 2017 – Esther Fitzpatrick

Writing as a method of inquiry

Esther FitzpatrickThe theme of this particular CLeaR fellowship intrigued me and immediately brought to mind Laurel Richardson’s work on ‘writing as a method of inquiry’. I have recently submitted my Doctorate that explored and implemented a range of creative writing technologies to explore a particular issue. I have begun, in my teaching, to also employ some of these creative writing technologies to enhance students’ engagement in their learning. The CLeaR fellowship offers an opportunity to work at a faculty level with Richardson’s philosophy and practice of ‘writing as a method of inquiry’.

In Semester One I would endeavour to explore what the various ‘writing technologies’ are that are currently employed throughout undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experiences. This would involve a voluntary survey of a range of lecturers, tutors, and students in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. I am particularly interested in innovative writing technologies that are implemented in teaching experiences that engage students in their learning and enhance their potential for success. Writing as a method of inquiry encourages students/researchers to think critically and make meaning of the content/theory and think ‘deeply’ about the work. The findings from this initial survey will be analysed to identify innovative writing as method strategies that are currently being employed in the faculty.

As I am on Research and Study leave for semester one 2017, I will also be contacting several scholars (Laurel Richardson, Patricia Leavy, Sandra Faulkner, Norman Denzin, George Belliveau, Rita Irwin for example) who employ a range of creative writing technologies in Canada and the United States, through April and May. I will therefore use some of this time to explore how ‘writing as a method of inquiry’ is employed in their teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate classes.

In Semester Two I would design and implement a range of ‘writing as a method of inquiry’ workshops to explore writing technologies that can be employed in tutorials. These would possibly include: found poetry, script writing, journal writing, and autoethnography (but are not limited to). In particular, as the course director for EDPROFST 205 Promoting Achievement for Diverse Learners, I plan to design and implement a range of innovative writing experiences for students in the tutorial sessions to enhance their potential to engage with the content and theory. I will also design and implement an assessment activity that encourages students to write their own stories and interrogate them with theory.

The practice of ‘story telling’ has a strong tradition as a strategy for inquiry, meaning making, and dissemination of ideas in several cultures. Particularly, narrative pedagogies and research methods are an important part of both Māori and Pasifika culture. Researching and implementing strategies to enhance the engagement of all students in their learning through ‘writing as a method of inquiry’ has the potential to improve participation, retention, and success, especially of our Māori and Pasifika students. Collaborative ‘writing as a method of inquiry’ technologies would provide an opportunity for students to experience a range of diverse international and intercultural experiences and perspectives. These collaborative ‘writings’ would be particularly strategic in tutorials where students can work together to make sense of theory and content. Through engaging colleagues and postgraduate students in workshops to encourage the practice of ‘writing as a method of inquiry’, enhances the potential of productive ‘quality and quantity’ of writing research outputs. A key objective of ‘creative writing genres’, such as Patricia Leavy’s academic fiction series, is to enable academic research more accessible to a wider range of audiences. Exploring innovative and creative writing technologies enhances our potential for widespread dissemination of research and creative work. Importantly, in semester two is the opportunity to work with colleagues to explore innovative methods and collaborate together in our writing endeavours.

Richardson, L. (1994). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 516-529). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Richardson, L. (2008). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials (pp. 499-541). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Richardson, L., & St Pierre, E. A. (2005). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 959-978). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.