Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Reserach So Far

I am very much in the exploration phase of this reserach project. I am starting to circle in on a topic that I am interested in, but am not sure exactly how I will pursue it.

I am very interested in visual rhetoric right now - it's a phase, all the cool kids are doing it. I really want to know how it works and why. I mean everyone is raving about visual rhetoric and how good it is for the students, but why exactly? Does it aid in retention? Does it inspire engagement with material? Does it simply tap into our computer and television infested minds?

I am drawn to the idea of quantitative study at this point. I know it's not an either/or proposition, but I would like to look at a large-ish sampling of students to try and identify trends when it comes to how they interact with visually ehanced electronic spaces. At this point I imagine maybe two groups - one "control" group and one "test" group - who would visit an electronic space or spaces. I would like to measure, somehow, reactions to spaces with visuals and those without. Maybe I could do this with just one group then, having them visit two types of spaces.

My problem at this point is how do you measure retention or engagement? I could see which type of space might inspire longer "reader" responses or maybe devise some sort of content quiz for the information.

I am also wondering who might take part in this study. Grad students are a good bet because they will usually help people out, but it would be cool to get a freshman perspective. Maybe I could arrange to teach a class for a colleague utilizing a computer lab and some visually enhanced reading and response.

I hope that my reading over the next week or two will help me uncover what other types of studies may have been done in this area. I may try looking beyond comp studies and focus on psychology and computer design as well.


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6:04 PM  
Blogger joefisher26504976 said...

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7:53 AM  
Blogger Norman said...

Hey! I'm using 207 to do some visual work in the classroom. We're exploring visual rhetoric in their field of study through analysis, critique, and then, then they'll create their own. I do think this is a cool subject and think you should look at "Defining Visual Rhetorics" by Hall and "Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World" by Handa and maybe look at "media literacy" as search tool.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Hey Jen: A very cool topic in my mind. I wonder if you can't hone in on what you mean by visual rhetoric, or even perhaps document design or information architecture; what are the features that you might test out in a type of usability study with students? Hmmm. Here's a thought. How about designing some information for students to read, then format one version very "textually" (whatever that means) and another very "visually" (whatever that means), and see how much better one group does than another on completing the task, interpreting the "information," etc. Just some ideas. You're clearly on to something here; and there is so much theory and pedagogical applications (including textbooks) to help you out that you can't go wrong, though I'm curious to see what empirical studies there are, as I do suspect they're likely to come from tech. comm. Thanks for making me think. Kris

5:46 PM  
Blogger Mr. Happy said...

I recently snagged a brand spankin' new book by Johndan Johnson-Eilola (remember him from Writing New Media?), entitled Data Cloud. Entitled Datacloud, JE explores how we inhabit spaces within this information-packed world, and he draws as readily on architecture and film as web design and composition theory. It might be worthwhile, too, to go back over his other writings, or even check his blog:

11:49 AM  
Blogger Sergey Rybas said...

I'm kind of excited that you are approaching it as a possible quantitative project. Remember that you always have me to lean on! As you know, I did use some stats analysis for my thesis and I was never too opposed to the idea of counting ether. I guess, combining or even mixing the two major research philosophies will do good to any project. As for your question of "how do we measure it," I had to measure nothing less but satisfaction on my project, so I have no doubt it can be done with visual rhetoric, too. The idea is to come up with a scale and some numeric values for the readings on it (e.g. how much it is used/discussed in class for example -- in every essay (5), once a semester (3), never (1), etc). The values are assigned arbitrarily; the main point is to have a difference between readings. Good luck! I'll be glad to help with whatever I can.

1:32 PM  

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