I've begun posting reading notes over at my other webspace. The site you're on right now will still be my regular, day-to-day blog, but the other site will be thoughts, ideas, and (mostly) reading notes as I start to work on my new project. I just got my IRB approval today for the new research, which will take place this fall in conjunction with the 'Writing for Civic Literacy' class.
Last year, an oral historian at UM-D, Georgina Hickey, and her students completed a Civic Engagement Audit on our campus. One of their findings was that faculty and students had very different definitions of concepts like 'community' and 'civic duty.' Faculty had a lot of misconceptions about student perspectives, according to the audit, including the misconception that students didn't have time for or interest in community service, activism, etc. Students, on the other hand, expressed some level of committment to these things. This disconnect seems to cry out for further elaboration. Hence the present research.
Students in my class are going to be doing project-based community service work, doing professional writing projects for a residential foster facility in Detroit. They'll also be writing reflectively about their experience and analytically about the social issues they engage with at the site. I plan to study the writing they do (especially the reflective stuff), and also to conduct interviews with students throughout the term, to try to understand what students think of notions of civics.
So I've been doing some reading this summer in anticipation of the project. Although the posts at my other site are mostly ways for me to chart what I'm reading, feel free to check it out.