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UW Grad Student Selected for Summer Research Seminar

May 29, 2018
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Rick Fisher

A University of Wyoming College of Education Ph.D. student in literacy education has been accepted into the prestigious annual Dartmouth Summer Seminar for Composition Research.

Rick Fisher, of Newcastle, is pursuing his Ph.D. in literacy education and also is an associate lecturer in the Department of English. The seminar welcomes writing researchers, teachers and writing program administrators who are looking to expand beyond qualitative work to incorporate data-driven approaches into their research.

Fisher applied to the seminar last year but was not selected. The competitive program selects only 25 participants each summer. After much encouragement from his faculty mentors in the literacy program and faculty colleagues in the Department of English, he reapplied this year. The additional year of work allowed Fisher to narrow his research focus. This proved to be effective, and he was accepted into the program this year.

Fisher learned about the seminar through his doctoral committee co-chair, Associate Professor Kelly Kinney, who is the Department of English co-chair. Because Fisher’s research involves disciplinary literacy and composition/rhetoric, it straddles fields in both the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The Dartmouth Summer Seminar is a huge asset for helping me better understand the overlap between research traditions in these two fields,” Fisher says. “I see my participation in the seminar as a type of cross-disciplinary experience that helps me supplement the research methods exposure that I got through coursework in the College of Education.”

The theme for this year’s program is “Data-Driven Inquiry: Process, Methods, Results.” The seminar provides a venue for researchers who would like to use data-driven approaches in their research to gain expertise in this area.

Those attending the seminar with Fisher will be exposed to coding-based qualitative analysis, where they will learn to organize and sort their data. This skill will help researchers summarize their results and begin developing a picture of what is happening in the data. Some forms of quantitative analysis also will be covered, especially methods that allow researchers to gather and analyze large sets of data. Additionally, attendees will learn how to use statistical software to critically analyze their data in preparation for publication.

Participants in the seminar each take a project with them to the workshop. Fisher will work on his dissertation research, “Genre in the Capstone Course: Roles, Purposes and Disciplinary Impacts.” Through this project, Fisher hopes to learn more about the effects writing, reading and other classroom activities have on advanced undergraduate students’ development of disciplinary identities.

“I look forward to the chance to interact with some of the top experts in the field and to refine my approach to coding qualitative data,” Fisher says. “Additionally, because the program includes workshops related to quantitative analysis as well, I also am excited to broaden my understanding of those techniques.”

The two-week seminar will take place July 29-Aug. 10. Fisher will travel to the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H., to participate. The program is offered by Dartmouth College’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, in collaboration with the National Council of Writing Program Administrators.

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