This course, EDPY 631, qualifies as a core LEEDS course, a research course, as well as a course leading to the certificate in Qualitative Research. Use the jump links below to move within this web page and access EDPY 631 course materials.
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 groups literally dozens of methods, so does 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 and more thematic analyses of typification, power structures and high and low level interpretations.
How often is the course offered?
This course is offered every odd year in the Spring: 2017, 2019, 2021, and so on. Please keep in mind that the call number may change as the program it originates in (Learning, Design, & Technology) has recently undergone 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. Corpora is the technical term. It’s basically a transcript of interactions. One *can* analyze a transcript of only one speaker, but that data must be natural and cannot be solicited by the researcher. 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. 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. In the past, learners have chosen: blogs, vlogs, discussion boards, comments on videos or Amazon product reviews, commenting in work settings such as on slide share files at corporations, newsgroups, instant message support in libraries and banks, twitter tweets along a certain hashtage, YikYack “herds” on campuses, video annotations, audio annotations, video chat sessions in Skype, voicethread interactions, email spam sent to colleges students, forwarded jokes, meme threads on 4chan, in-game chat in online games, MOOC threads, World of Warcraft learning guild chats and forums, Reddit forums on entrepreneurism, FB threads, college application online support groups, sustainablity reports, comments threads on popular news sites … the list is endless. 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 50 or so turns, or 1000 words. Most student have tended to collect 100 turns without much trouble.
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
- Meeting Time and Place: Tuesdays 5:05PM- 7:45PM (In room: BEC 242)
- Course Credit Hours: 3
- The name of the learning managment system (LMS) is Canvas
- This course uses current research studies. All texts are available via the password protected Readings folder linked below.
- This syllabus was last updated in 2017
Faculty Contact Information:
- Craig D. Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
- Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling (EPC)
- 517 Bailey Education Complex; (865) 974-8642; email@example.com
- Virtual office: Zoom (ID: 648 060 7829)
- Der Eintrittswort fuer 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.
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 on 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.
Due date| Task |Pts|Submission
- Week 3 |Anti-plagiarism certificate & Citi Training |10 |Presentation slides
- Week 4 |Introduction to your data and your IRB Presentation|10 |Certificates
- Week 7 |Participation Analysis Mini-study |20 |Paper
- Week 9 |Speech Act Analysis Mini-study |20 |Paper
- Week 12|Interaction Analysis Mini-study |20 |Paper
- Week 15|Social Behavior Analysis Mini-study |20 |Paper
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 include group feedback into your analysis. You are not required to submit your slides for your mini-study presentations. 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
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. In online courses, 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. 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 Gmail it is highly likely that some messages sent from me will get sent to your Junk Mail / Spam folder or disappear entirely is the settings are not adjusted to accept LMS announcements.
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.
- 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
Completing all assignments and meeting the minimum expectations of the course constitutes “B” work; truly outstanding/superior work constitutes “A” work; and failing to meet the minimum expectations will result in a grade of “C” or lower. Spending a lot of time on course requirements (or having a history of being an “A” student) may not, in and of itself, necessarily result in an “A” grade.Academic writing conventions and abilities: All assignments must conform to the style and reference notation format outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The APA manual is an essential tool for graduate school academic writing. Please study it carefully and refer to it often. If you are unsure about particular APA formatting and citation rules, refer to the manual.The ability to write in an appropriate academic manner is critical to successful graduate study. 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.How to Be Successful In This Course: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.
- 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.
Schedule of topics and readings
|1.||Key assumptions of DA: Linguistic patterns, meaning making, and the purpose of studying language in use
Foundations of DA
|All submissions due by midnight|
|2.||Describing discourse as data, the socio-technical context, and setting up data for study. IRB tests and ethically conducting research with human subjects
|3.||Participation analysis via structural measures
Complete Citi-Training prior to our class session.
|4.||First Student Presentations: Data Screen capture, Describing data via facets (See Herring 2007), IRB description text, Formatting data in Spreadsheet or other software||Presentation slides due|
|5.||Writing Research Questions and Selecting a DA sample:
In-class activity: Selecting a purposive sample. Read the above article closely; We will work with the sections on research questions and samples to create alignment
|6.||Student presentations of participation analysis mini-studies|
|7.||Speech act analysis part 1:
||Participation analysis written mini-study due|
|8.||Speech act analysis part 2:
In-class activity: Group coding of sample speech acts, working with measures in spreadsheets
|9.||Student Presentations of Speech Acts analysis mini-studies|
|10.||Interaction analysis part 1:
In-class: Creating graphical representations of interaction
|Speech acts written mini-study due|
|11.||Interaction analysis Part 2:
In-class: Creating graphical representations of interaction
|12.||Student Presentations of Interaction analysis mini-studies|
|13.||Analyzing social behavior: Politeness and conflict part 1.
||Interaction Analysis mini-study due|
|14.||Analyzing social behavior: Politeness and conflict part 2
|15.||Student Final Presentations: Politeness analysis mini-studies|
|16.||Breaking new Ground in Discourse Analysis: Multimedia Discourse Analysis
|Politeness and conflict Mini-study due|
Assignments: There are six tasks in this course. They are linked below. Submit your MS word doc via the university LMS. (Sorry, I cannot accept pdfs at this time.)
- 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. 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
I view written work in longer formats (over 5 pages or so) as a formative task, not a summative one. 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 usually contain a minus sign with 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.
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. Either all of them are addressed 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 can’t 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 competency. 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.
- 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
- 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.
- The caption is a necessary component of all images / artwork / audio / video. 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. It may be helpful to remember that other professors were trained at a different time than you are being trained.
- 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.
- 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.
- Citations’ purpose in research is often misunderstood. Citations are a rhetorical device. 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 on a given point express just how pervasive the consensus among others is. Here is an 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.
- 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; Hrastinski, 2008) 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: First error is a direct quote with two authors. Secondly, just because one author or multiple authors said something does not mean it is true. The reason we use multiple citations is to show agreement among researchers of the concept or phenomenon. 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.
- 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.
Readings are integral to this course. The following link leads to a password protected folder. You can access it after I have distributed the password in the university LMS. Check you official class announcements.