This course, EDPY 631, qualifies as a core LEEDS course, an LDT Advanced Core course, a research course, as well as a course leading to the certificate in Qualitative Research. Please read the entire syllabus if you take the course, and thereafter, use the jump links below to move within this web page and access EDPY 631 course materials.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Discourse Analysis?
Discourse analysis is a broad group of methods, not one method. It is the study of how people make meaning via their natural communicative interactions. The same way quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis are groups of literally dozens of methods, so is discourse analysis. In truth, a discourse analysis is any study that looks directly at natural discourse to make claims. Within DA there are a number of popular approaches, but in this course I have targeted activities on participation analysis, speech act analysis, interaction analysis and social behavior analysis. This course also emphasizes computer-mediated settings (CMDA) because they not only provide easy to access corpora for analysis, but they are the fastest growing area in need of study in education.
What is the difference between this course and a Critical Discourse Analysis courses?
In short, the methods applied. Critical discourse analysis courses are equally as popular as the methods taught in this course, but take a different in approach to looking at discourse data. While this course places more emphasis on counting frequencies of phenomena within a relatively larger corpus, CDA approaches tend to emphasis closer inspections of smaller quantities of text. This discourse analysis course holds more in common with interaction studies, while CDA would focus on fewer turns, more thematic analyses of typifications, power structures, and high and low level interpretations. This course is not a course grounded in critical theory.
How often is the course offered?
This course is offered every other year. It was last offered in the Spring of 2017. Please keep in mind that the call number may change as the program it originates in (LEEDS ->Learning, Design, & Technology) has recently undergone curriculum renewal, including a name change.
What data is used in this course?
Students will select a corpus relatively quickly within the first few weeks of class. Each learner must work on a unique corpus. I advocate selecting a mediated setting that is public, and learners engage other learners, a teacher, or the public. In the past, learners have selected excerpts from YouTube comment threads, open video annotations, voice-thread annotations, discussion forums from targeted web forums like College Confidential, fan fiction discussions, Twitter hashtag threads, Facebook threads, chat logs from library services, email listerves, blogs, vlogs, Reddit discussion boards, Amazon product reviews, slide share commenting, newsgroups, instant message support in banks, YikYack “herds” on campuses, video chat sessions posted and commented on, asynchronous commentary surrounding forwarded jokes, meme threads on 4chan, in-game chat in online games, MOOC threads, World of Warcraft learning guild chats and forums, college application online support groups, comment threads on popular news sites, and many others.
Corpora is the technical term. It’s basically a transcript of interactions. Since my scholarly home is in Instructional Technology, I am naturally drawn to corpora drawn from mediated spaces, such as distance education, blended learning, and other types of online education. It is not a requirement that the transcript come from an educational setting. Literally ANY transcript of interactions can be seen from a learning perspective, so the possibilities are endless. While collecting interactions is part of the course, you are expected to bring with you some ideas about what you want to focus on- venues, contexts, or people. There is absolutely no shortage of possible free and available corpora. The key is to open your mind to what education is – discourse is everywhere. I am open to a transcript of in-class interactions, but this might require a little more transcript prep, and frankly, requires more work for less outcome. I am guessing the initial sample to be a minimum of 100 or so turns. Most student have tended to collect 100 turns without much trouble. Applying for IRB approval is part of the course, and applying for IRB does not prevent you from looking at your data prior to IRB approval. Viewing public discourse is very different from conducting interviews, or observing individuals.
Does this course require statistics?
Not really. Only descriptive statistics. The course does not require any advanced stats. If you can understand a simple proportion, you can do all the calculations necessary to complete this course. Some knowledge of a spreadsheet program such as Excel is helpful, however. I am open to google sheets if that’s what you prefer. Spreadsheet beginners have done fine in previous classes.
Does this DA course count towards the qualitative research certificate offered through the Educational Statistics and Measurement program?
Yes, because it deals only with purposefully selected, qualitative data. Data selection is also a component of the course. Discourse analysis is always a qualitative approach, even though the bounds of what is and what is not qualitative may sometimes move, DA is solidly qualitative. The presence of calculations does not make a research study quantitative; the course qualifies for the Qual Certificate in ESM.
Educational Psychology (EDPY) 631: Discourse Analysis in Educational Environments
- Course Section: 001 | CRN: 51717 (when registering for the course, email the program admin assistant with this number)
- Meeting Time and Place: Mondays 5:45PM- 8:35PM (In room: BEC 238; we will take a break around 7pm)
- Course Credit Hours: 3
- The name of the learning management system (LMS) is Canvas
- This course uses current research studies. All texts are available via the password protected Readings folder.
- This syllabus was last updated Aug 11, 2018
Faculty Contact Information:
- Craig D. Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
- Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling (EPC)
- 517 Bailey Education Complex; (865) 974-8642; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do not contact me via Canvas internal messaging as I will not get your message.
- Virtual office: Zoom (ID: 648 060 7829)
- Der Eintrittswort für die geheimes Mappe ist 寿司.
Office hours: Tuesdays 12:00-3:00, but please notify me ahead of time to see if there is already another student scheduled in that time slot. I am on campus every Tuesday this Spring.
I check email once a day, but not on weekends. I respond as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. Note that I do not require documents be printed, ever. Please do not ask for handouts, slides, or printed texts. All papers, presentations, class handouts and other materials will always be digital, and available on this website. All submissions will process through the LMS only. I expect your submissions to come through the LMS and not to me via email. When submitting revisions online, remember tracked changes and use the same dropbox as the original. See the policy on written work for more details on submissions and re-submissions of written work.
This is an advanced research course. It is designed for learners to acquire the skills necessary to apply discourse analyses methods that focus on discourse in learning contexts, with special attention paid to mediated-learning environments and distance learning. A focus on structural elements does not preclude analyses of power and identity, but this is not the focus of the course. That focus normally falls under critical discourse analysis which is a different sub-genre of DA.
Learners will be required to collect a corpus of communications and pass the human subjects protection online test by week two (log in with your UTK ID here, learn more here). Learners will be required to be familiar with the basics of Microsoft Excel or another comparable spreadsheet application, and Microsoft Word or another comparable word processing application by week three. Learners must share their data and results from inquiry in four research presentations throughout the course.
This is a research inquiry course; such courses are also known as methodology courses. This course will give you practical training and hands-on experience in applying discourse analysis methods, and no previous knowledge is required. You will design actual research studies and apply specific analytical methods, and you will interpret the results you come up with. The discourse analyses in this course of study generally apply quantitative methods to qualitative samples of real language in use, but the use of advanced statistical methods such as X2 (Chi- squares) and regression is not covered, or needed, in this course. Simple ratios and percentages are the primary measures reported in the mini-studies.
- Read contemporary studies in and about discourse analysis, and as examples of discourse analysis
- Collect a corpus of discourse relevant to their academic trajectory
- Describe discourse data according to the conventions of studies in discourse analysis (CMDA)
- Develop research questions that can be answered with the corpus they collected
- Apply methods which elucidate how interlocutors in the sample create meaning through their discourse
- Relate those insights to their larger course of study in which they are involved
- Present their work to their peers in an academic context
Students are responsible for coming to class prepared and staying on task during the meeting sessions. Please turn cell phone ringers and vibrating controls off, and do not web surf or check email during class. I expect learners will check email and course communications daily.
Points (total 100)
|Week 3||Anti-plagiarism certificate & Citi Training||
|Week 4||Introduction to your data and your IRB Presentation||
|Week 7||Participation Analysis Mini-study||
|Week 9||Speech Act Analysis Mini-study||
|Week 12||Interaction Analysis Mini-study||
|Week 15||Social Behavior Analysis Mini-study||
A mini-study includes both a paper and an in-class presentation of your findings. The four presentations are about 10-15 minutes in length, and each mini-study is about 2000 words. The presentations are scheduled 1 week before the written mini-study is to be submitted, allowing for you to incorporate feedback into your analysis. You are not required to submit your slides for your mini-study presentations. You are strongly encouraged to audio record your presentations. This will allow you to recapture the moment when you revise your study. Failing a recording, you should ask another student in the class to take notes during your presentations, especially during the Q&A period. These will help for your write up the following week.
I understand that graduate student life is hectic and difficult at times. Therefore, each student is permitted one 3-day late pass on written submissions, no questions asked. There are no passes on presentations. If you are in class on a presentation day, you must present when it is your turn.
- Be prepared for all classes
- Be respectful of others
- Actively contribute to the learning activities in class
- Abide by the UT Honor Code
- Be prepared for all classes
- Evaluate all fairly and equally
- Be respectful of all students
- Create and facilitate meaningful learning activities
- Behave according to University codes of conduct
Contact me through normal UTK email; Canvas messaging is disabled for my account. I try my best to answer e-mails within 24 hours except for on the weekends. My website is: craigdennishoward.com. I am happy to arrange virtual meetings via Google hangouts, Skype, or by telephone on an individual basis, if that would be helpful. I find learners pose questions via private messages that are actually quite common, and the answers to which would be helpful for all to hear. I often broadcast my responses to such questions via the LMS message system, but this system is one way. When you attempt to reply to me, use email. I do this because there are many advantages of traditional email over Canvas messages, including longer persistence, more capabilities to attach items, and better security. If your email is confidential, you would like your identity withheld, or not to be associated with the content of the response, please clearly indicate this in the body of your original mail. Otherwise, I may answer to everyone. You will regularly receive course related communications from me through email via the university sponsored LMS. It is your responsibility to make sure that your university email account is in working condition. Please be aware that if you have forwarded your UT account to another email address, it is your responsibility to monitor your Spam filter.
If you have technical issues or need help troubleshooting, please contact OIT at http://remedy.utk.edu/contact/ or call the helpdesk at 865-974-9900.
- I use the most up to date studies, so please use the readings folder
- American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.
Required Equipment: Access to a computer. I strongly encourage you to develop a facility with cloud storage if you do not yet use this type of system. Grades are updated regularly in the University LMS. Final grades will be given according to the UT grading scale:
- F=59% and below
- A= Superior performance, B+= Better than satisfactory performance, B=Satisfactory performance, C+=Less than satisfactory performance, C= Performance well below the standard expected of graduate students., D=Clearly unsatisfactory performance and cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements, F=Extremely unsatisfactory performance and cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
A Note Regarding Letter Grades
The ability to write in an appropriate academic manner is critical to successful graduate study. I explain my strategy for grading written work below. Please read this explanation prior to contacting me about your paper. If you find that you need assistance with your writing, please visit the university’s free Writing Center housed in the English department: http://web.utk.edu/~english/writing/writing.shtml. They do not proofread or edit your work, but they can help with idea development and organization – key elements of successful academic writing. Please be aware that EPC expects the following of students enrolled in this course:
- Be prepared by having read assigned materials thoroughly and critically.
- Check your UT email & LMS space regularly for announcements.
- Enthusiastically participate in group discussions.
- We will engage in a lot of small group work, so please let me know in advance about any irregularities in your attendance &/or participation.
- There are no excused absences or excused delays for assignment completion. As adults it is your choice whether or not to attend class and how to participate in class. My position, of course, is that you should be in every class. I am not in the position to give or withhold permission for you to miss class. I simply ask that you let me know whether or not we can expect you in class each week.
- Apart from the one no-questions-asked late pass, late arrivals, early departures, absences &/or assignments submitted late are all likely to negatively impact your grade.
- You are expected to complete your own work. You cannot re-submit work here that was done for previous classes unless we’ve specifically talked about that together.
- No incompletes will be given.
- If you plagiarize, you will receive a zero on the assignment, and I will contact your academic advisor for further consultation.
- Be aware of any tendencies to multi-task during our sessions. I ask a lot of questions and students who multitask usually experience embarrassment.
- As a participant of an Instructional Technology Program course, course participants are required to review Program Participant Professional Dispositions policy and engage in continual development as a professional. See the Professional Dispositions blog post on this website, or the EPC website for details.
Topic and in-class activities
Readings & Assignments due
|1||8/27||Foundations of Discourse Analysis
Key assumptions of DA: Linguistic patterns, meaning making, and the purpose of studying language in use
|2||9/10||There is no class scheduled on 9/3 due to the Memorial Day Holiday
Describing discourse as data, the socio-technical context, and setting up data for study.
IRB tests and ethically conducting research with human subjects
|3||9/17||Participation analysis via structural measures
The Ko (1996) is available online and reformatted in Readings. [http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/006/3/006315.HTML] [the 2 version of Ko were reformatted by previous students to better facilitate markup]
Structural measures of discourse. Blunderbuss methods of data orientation
First Student Presentations:
Data Screen capture, Describing data via facets (See Herring 2007), IRB description text, Formatting data in Spreadsheet or other software
Assignment: Submit Data/IRB presentations prior to the start of class. Present your data sample and IRB language description
|5||10/1||Sample selection and description
Selecting a purposive sample. Read the Herring (2004) article closely; We will work with the sections on research questions and samples to create alignment between method and Research Question
|6||10/8||Student presentations of participation analysis mini-studies
Approaches to speech act analysis part I
Understanding modified taxonomies for speech acts, functional moves, and content analysis.
UT Fall Break does not impact this class.
Assignment: Present participation analysis mini study in class
Approaches to speech act analysis part 2
Group coding of sample speech acts, working with measures in spreadsheets, and attaining inter-rater agreement
Assignment: Submit written participation analysis report
|8||10/22||**AECT Kansas City, Missouri
October 23 – October 27 2018***Academic conference for distance education- Association of Educational Communication and Technology.We will not meet due to conference
|9||10/29||Speech act analysis results
If time remains after presentations, we move on to interaction analysis introduction
|Assignment: Present- Speech Acts analysis mini-studies|
|10||11/5||Interaction analysis part 1:
Creating graphical representations of interaction
Finding patterns in data sets
Assignment: Submit speech act analysis report
|11||11/12||Interaction analysis part 2:
Creating graphical representations of interactions
|12||11/19||Analyzing social behavior: Politeness and conflict part 1.
Student Presentations of Interaction analysis mini-studies
Assignment: Present interaction analysis mini study
|14||11/26||Analyzing social behavior: Politeness and conflict part 2
Assignment: Submit interaction analysis mini study
|15||12/3||Course wrap up
|Assignment: Present SBA mini study
|16||12/10||We will not meet during exam week.||Assignment: Submit social behavior analysis mini study. This is the final exam.|
Assignments: There are six tasks in this course. They are linked below, or you can look at the whole folder here. Remember to always submit your MS word doc via the university LMS, and not to my email. Always submit revisions with tracked changes to the original drop-box for that assignment. (Sorry, I cannot accept pdfs at this time, and I cannot accept emailed assignments.)
- Anti-plagiarism and Citi Training for Research with Human Subjects Task
- IRB Presentation Task
- Participation Analysis Task
- Speech Act Analysis Task
- Interaction Analysis Task
- Social Behavior Analysis Task
Policy on written work
Overview of why I grade the way I do, via comments and tracked changes
Not all instructors will offer a guide on how they deal with written work. I am addressing this because I have found it useful in the past to add some rationale to why I grade written work the way I do. Graduate students generally work with multiple professors for a reason; each has their own approach to writing and scholarship, and those multiple perspectives help learners see different aspects of the process from different angles, providing a more nuanced understanding of the task and the content of learning itself. I encourage you to read this rationale statement prior to handing in written work in one of my courses, and to read any other rationale by any other professor whose course you attend. Practices are different because goals are different. I also encourage you to check out my blog, craigdennishoward.com, where I dive into more reasons why I teach the way I do.
My pedagogical perspective on academic writing
I view written work in longer formats (over 5 pages or so) as a formative task, not a summative one. The formative goal is for you to acquire the procedure of academic writing, and the attitude to be successful at it. This does not mean I don’t use rubrics; I do. I see them as a means for the leaner and instructor to view the work. However, I don’t see them as providing learners with customized instruction. Rubrics must generalize, but we must teach and learn with specific cases to make sense of what rubrics actually mean. I endeavor to grade without making summative claims about performance while still respecting learners’ autonomy as graduate students. A simple number seems very unsatisfying and frankly, I don’t think you’ll learn much from just a number. So grading via a rubric doesn’t accomplish my goals as an instructor. Here’s how go about the act of grading.
I give lots of comments. Some applaud your work, and some are meant to guide you toward better practices. For each comment where I ask you to make a revision, I usually deduct a point. That’s a point you can always get back via revision. By addressing each comment in a re-submitted paper, you evidence that you learned the point I had hoped to teach you; or alternatively, you evidence another strategy whereby my point is made mute. As long as you resubmit all your revisions as saved via tracked changes, I will check them and give full credit as the performance will display that mastery has been achieved. To make these required changes clear, these comments are demoted with a minus sign and a number, eg: -1.
Comments preceded by a plus sign indicate that I was impressed with your insight or craft. They do not require revision. Comments with no marker are simply comments. Me talking to you. I view each comment type as equally important.
At the end of the paper, I add up all the negative comments, subtract that number from the point value for the written work, and give the paper back to you. If you choose not to revise, the point value remains as it is. There is no partial credit on revisions. You cannot choose to revise some and not others because this would inhibit your learning. Either all of them are addressed in your revision, or you get no points for any revisions. This prevents all of us from picking the easy ones and avoiding learning the important content, or squabbling over difficult revisions and easy revisions. I cannot see from my vantage point which comments are harder for whom, so I give them all the same value. We all have different skill sets, but the end goal is for every learner to reach a competency, which is an attitude welcoming of insightful revision, and a knowledge of the process of scholarly writing through revision and development. I feel that no number could ever carry with it the detail I need to express the complexities of the learning that needs to be accomplished via graduate school writing.
In some cases, an assignment’s instructions require a decision to me made. If the instructions ask for it, I require it. This is to reflect the harsh reality that in some cases one is forced to make judgements. Either a positive or negative conclusion on the subject of your investigation gains you credit, but no selection does not get you the credit for completing the task. Some learners can go deep into critiquing the entirety of the instructional design without concluding one way or the other, which is fine for non-professional discussion, but not for this context. Here, if you are asked to decide, you must decide and your decision must be clear. If the task asks you to explain what x or y phenomena mean, you must attempt to answer that question. Avoiding the question via a string of hypothetical is not completing the task. You must select a perspective and argue it. You can always change your mind in a revision.
- Read all comments on the entire paper before revising. Often, a single revision hits multiple comments.
- Always submit your final with tracked changes. I can’t grade without them. If you don’t know how to work with tracked changes, follow one of these links about how to use tracked changes: MS Office, or com.
- If my arithmetic is wrong, it only matters if you plan not to make revisions. Keep than in mind before you email me about a 1 or 2 point difference.
General Feedback I see regularly and may not call out with detail
- The caption is a necessary component of all images / artwork / audio / video. It explain WHO, WHAT and WHY. The caption does not simply label the item; rather, it explains how the item relates to the topic being discussed. In other words, the reader needs to be told what to look at in the image and why they are being shown it. There was once a publishers’ practice of putting artwork/images/graphics/multimedia in appendices. That practice is obsolete. It is fine if your other professors ask this of you; but you shouldn’t practice this in my courses. Every caption accomplished three things: What it is, Who did it, and why the reader should view it. All figures and tables must always be explained in full in the text of the paper/article.
- Certain terms get used incorrectly, often. Utilize means an item or procedure was used for a purpose other than that for which it was designed. For example, one can utilize a hammer to pick their teeth, but one cannot utilize a hammer to pound a nail. Please do not confuse “use” and “utilize.” More often than not, the learner should have simply used the term used rather than utilized.
- Citations’ purpose in research is often misunderstood. Citations are a rhetorical device. Read this blog post for more details. They can ground a statement in support, evidence a widely held misconception, or even make a joke. So citations can go many ways, both positive and negative. Therefore, I require each citation to be somewhat introduced, unless it is blatantly obvious why it is there. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:
- Multiple citations show consensus or popularity on a given point or phenomena. However, one can claim consensus then use only one citation, which shows either that the consensus is claimed but suspect, or that the author is not well read on the topic. The two types of rhetoric have very different meanings. For example:
- Scholars agree that asynchronous communication is democratized (Howard, 2012).
- Scholars agree that asynchronous communication is democratized (Herring, 2007; Warshauer, 2002; Stockwell, 2001).
- Explanation: in the first, the author repeated another author’s perspective. In the second, the author synthesized scholarly work.
- A common error is to credit an author with coining a term when in fact all they have done was provide a thorough explanation. When you have a such a situation, see the handy “see” reference. For example
- Inaccurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards. *
- Accurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (see Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards.
- Explanation: This first citation says the author (Mager) coined the term. However, he didn’t. Rather, Mager explained the term, so you use the “see” prior to the citation. But there are cases where an author has introduced a terms and uses it to mean something very specific. For example:
- “In the case of these learners, their ZPD (Vygotsky 1971) was clearly misdiagnosed via the learning deign.”
- Citations can be misleading. For example, used in such a way as to imply an author did something which that author did not.
- Inaccurate: “Participation has been argued to be an intrinsic part of learning,” (Wenger, 1998) therefore the videos provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.*
- Accurate: There is moderate consensus that participation is intrinsic to learning (Wenger, 1998; Hrastinski, 2008). Therefore, the videos were designed to provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.
- Explanation: Just because one author or multiple authors said something does not mean it is true, and does not necessarily follow that a design would go one way or another. What we have here is rationale, not fact. Therefore, the additional rationale of the designers is needed. If we jump to expressing this as fact, it has the potential of confounding concepts under scrutiny, and implying that the design became as it was directly because of what these authors had said, as if their words could change a design.
- A direct quote followed by two authors is impossible. “Participation has been argued to be an intrinsic part of learning,” (Hrastinski, 2008; Wenger, 1998) The reason we use multiple citations is to show agreement among researchers of the concept or phenomenon, but never to support a direct quote. Also, direct quotes must always be followed by a page number.
- Citations must always have a date, otherwise, they are not citations. Scholars often change their position on something over the course of their career, so the date is as important as the name. Also, is there really is no date, it is wisest not to include the reference unless you’re employing a different rhetorical strategy, such as mocking public opinion. For a detailed discussion of this, see my blog post on citing Wikipedia.
- Describing multimedia is often problematic, and some writers tend to employ words than are imprecise. Do not identify media by the names of corporations. A media is not “Facebook-like;” because corporations change their media and platforms are dynamic. Instead, describe media with a description that is more persistent in its meaning, for example: the media platform is many to many, socially oriented, file sharing. Simply saying what one might do with a tool also does nto offer much utility; “allows, supports, etc…” are verbs than concord with design affordances, and the verb form is affords, but that still does not describe it. I offer a faceted classification scheme to describe media. Please use it.
- Design failures need to be called out as such. A design failure is when a design does not meet the needs of a user, either foreseen or unforeseen. There can be design failures in assessments and measures as well. Those are usually called out via reliability issues or validity issues. Generally, design failures are followed either by a plausible solution or a statement about the design tension they create. Typical paragraph structure in papers that analyze instructional designs is to start with the design failure and go from there. Ending a paragraph with a design failure often confuses a reader, or presents the author as having given up midway through analysis.
- How to is another often misused term. How to is oftentimes simply slang for “procedural knowledge” or “procedural instruction.” When you use this term how to to refer to either or both, it presents you as someone who does not make a distinction between instruction and learning. This is dangerous for an instructional designer. An academically trained ID uses more precision, and I expect this kind of precision from my students. You don’t need academic training to design well; there are lots of great designers who have not been academically trained. Having learned ID terms gives you the precision of expression you need to interrogate, explain and communicate about designs well, which is why a trained designer is oftentimes more valuable than a self-taught one.
- Headers are a rhetorical device, and I often require that they be used to break up the flow of longer pieces of text. “Headers” is also a term editors use to refer to the MS word function located on the horizontal ribbon. When I say “use headers” I mean both the text separated as a sub-title, and the formatting in MS Word. I often ask my learners to use the header function in MS Word because it makes a larger written work easier to navigate. Getting used to using headers earlier rather than later in your study saves you time. It only takes one long project, such as a dissertation, where you will reap the rewards for learning header use now.