CALICO Journal, Vol 26, No 2 (2009)

Deepened Mirrors of Cultural Learning: Expressing Identity Through E-writing

Martin Andrew
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014


This paper qualitatively analyzes reflective data gathered from learners' electronic and paper writings about their cultural learning in and about New Zealand. The data comes from three intakes of learners in "Culture and New Zealand Society," a second-year course for migrant and international learners within a Bachelor of Arts in English as an Additional Language (BA [EAL]) at a tertiary institute in New Zealand. As part of an assessment of cultural learning, students write and reflect on their cultural observations and experiences. They submit reflective writings in two forms: a 150-word e-text journal entry using the rhetorical e-spaces of Blackboard, and a 1,000-word paper journal account of cultural and linguistic learning during community participation. After the data in the e-writings had been open coded, a range of themes emerged. This paper presents results in two key areas: the development of identities through reflective positioning (Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2005), and the useful 'realness' of community placement to highlight and complement class 'content.' Themes emerged from analyzing the e-texts and matched themes in the journals. The analysis suggests that e-writings have the potential to make students "think beyond the square" (Coster & Ledovski, 2005). E-text journal entries are at least as useful as paper texts in mapping learners' cultural and metacognitive awareness. This poses the question that e-moderated writings might reflect more candor and could hence reflect deeper mirrors of learning.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v26i2.324-336


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