Wednesday, March 16, 2011

“Podcasting and Performativity: Multimodal Invention in an Advanced Writing Class” by Leigh A. Jones

Jones, Leigh A. “Podcasting and Performativity: Multimodal Invention in an Advanced Writing Class.” Composition Studies 38.2 (2010): 75-91. Print.

This essay offers a look at an innovative strategy one instructor used in a writing course, but one that could easily be adapted to most courses. Jones had her students create a podcast as part of the writing process for a research paper. She argues that the technique can “help alleviate the counter-productive anxiety that many students feel” at the start of a major writing assignment (78). Basically, she asked her students to pair up to write and record “a short, five minute mp3 file that would educate the class about a current controversial news issue they planned to write about over the course of the semester” (83). These podcasts were then played in class and discussed. She hoped that students would be able to use the podcasts as a means of narrowing their research topics and she was pleased with the results. Her findings dovetail nicely with some recent research in composition studies that suggests that having students talk about their writing helps them produce better documents (some research has even suggested that students discussing their writing with one another informally actually has the greatest effect), though she thinks that having the students polish the talking in the form of a podcast helped the students develop a sense of authority in addition to further honing their composition skills. Her technique could easily be adapted to many courses here and, of course, podcasting can itself be a form of writing if scripts are involved, and might be a useful alternative in and of itself to a conventional writing assignment.

The essay can be found in our writing instruction library in the Ursuline Studies Program office (Mullen 318).

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