Digital Texts as Sources for Novice Writers

Digital Texts as Sources for Novice Writers

Thomas DeVere Wolsey (Walden University, USA), Diane Lapp (San Diego State University, USA) and Douglas Fisher (San Diego State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4341-3.ch015
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Abstract

In this chapter, the authors review literature describing how reading processes appear to work in online and other digital environments. In particular, the nature of reading, writing, and the academic utility of new literacies is explored and applied to the digital environments of secondary school students. Writing is described as an ill-defined domain and situated theoretically in classical discourse theories as well as cognitive-linguistic approaches that explain reading and writing interactions in digital environments. Specific considerations for using digital texts as sources for written work are explained, including the role of search engine optimization techniques on reading and how access to multiple varied sources changes what students can learn. Implications and suggestions for future research are provided.
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Epistemology And Identity

Identity is a complex construction that is shaped as individuals navigate contexts of gender, race, class, and other cultural dimensions. Archer, Deweiit, Osborne, Dillon, Willis, and Wong (2010) working in the United Kingdom, reported their findings from focus group interviews drawn from schools representing a variety of contexts (e.g., urban, private religious, private elementary mainly white). Though this work dealt with a wide array of identity constructions relative to science, these findings offer the seeds of two overarching and key concepts that are useful to the study of reading and writing relationships. They are 1) students can and will consult reading materials that support their interests, albeit outside of school, and 2) they can construct parts of their identities as to what it means to “do” science or be a scientist through what they read. As we shall see, writers seek to assert themselves as competent contributors in the world, and what they read, digitally and on paper, greatly informs their writing.

We can think of writing as an act of asserting oneself as a unique being in the world. Writers, particularly in academic settings, are not just demonstrating what they know; they are also defining themselves as cognitive beings in the world (e.g., Erikson, 1968; Yagelski, 2009) with something substantive to contribute. Even as students increasingly use digital tools, and their capacity to use them informs their identities, their ability to use them for academic writing purposes, such as reading to inform writing, may benefit from well-planned instruction.

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