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‘Reconciling “Anglistik”’ conference, Trier, September 2003 Designing and piloting a world-wide-web-based stylistics course Mick ‘Reconciling “Anglistik”’ conference, Trier, September 2003 Designing and piloting a world-wide-web-based stylistics course Mick Short, Lancaster University, UK (m. [email protected] ac. uk)

The structure of this talk n A. ‘The place of stylistics’ in Learning and The structure of this talk n A. ‘The place of stylistics’ in Learning and learning n B. The overall investigation n C. The web-based course – some examples n D. The Lancaster 2002 -3 pilot investigation

A. The ‘place’ of stylistics in Learning 1. English Language not in crisis in A. The ‘place’ of stylistics in Learning 1. English Language not in crisis in the UK (but we have had to work hard at making it ‘relevant’) 2. On the edges of two (three? ) academic worlds (language/linguistics and literary criticism) 3. An irrelevance or a valuable link? 4. The rock and the hard place - linguists want stylisticians to be more ‘picky and formal’, the critics want them to be less so 5. Many Linguists tend to ignore stylistics – an irrelevance?

Are academic squabbles worth it? § Most of the squabbles involving stylistics have been Are academic squabbles worth it? § Most of the squabbles involving stylistics have been with literacy criticism § Academic squabbles rarely change minds, and often: n n Are squabbles over territory and resources, not learning Involve opponents with outdated views of one another Are promoted by those who not take proper account of the different academic aims of their ‘opponents’ Don’t take into proper account of the range of different work in each area

Mick’s stylistics (1) § Aim – to understand how we get from the words Mick’s stylistics (1) § Aim – to understand how we get from the words on the page to meanings in our heads/effects texts have on us (cf. style) § Lots of aspects to this and we can’t ‘beat’ intuition § A combination of text analysis and psychological (pragmatic? ) inference § The texts don’t have to be literary, but often are: § (1996) Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose, Longman § (1997) ‘Analyzing the changing character and sophistication of TV advertisements in the People’s Republic of China’ (with HU Wen Zhong ), Text 17, 4, 491 -515

Mick’s stylistics (2) § Theorising, description and interpretation, e. g. : § (1981) Style Mick’s stylistics (2) § Theorising, description and interpretation, e. g. : § (1981) Style in Fiction (with G. N. Leech), Longman Ch. 10 § (1999) ‘Graphological deviation, style variation and point of view in Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh’, Journal of Literary Studies, 15 (3/4), 305 -23 § ‘Linguistic metaphor identification in two extracts from novels’ (with E. Semino and J. Heywood), Language and Literature 11, 1, 35 -54 § Informant-based work § (2002) ‘A Cross-cultural study of fictional and non-fictional text understanding’ (with L. Halász) Poetics, 30, 3, 195 -219

Mick’s stylistics (3) § Corpus stylistics, e. g. § (2002) ‘Revisiting the notion of Mick’s stylistics (3) § Corpus stylistics, e. g. § (2002) ‘Revisiting the notion of faithfulness in discourse report/(re)presentation theory Using a Corpus Approach’ (with E. Semino and M. Wynne), Language and Literature, 325 -55 § (forthcoming) Corpus Stylistics: A Corpus-based Study of Speech, Writing and Thought Presentation in a Corpus of English Writing (with E. Semino), Routledge § Cognitive stylistics/poetics § Characterisation, text worlds etc § Affect § Style, theme etc. § ‘Discourse stylistics’

The squabble I have been involved in n n Mackay, R. (1996) ‘Mything the The squabble I have been involved in n n Mackay, R. (1996) ‘Mything the point: a critique of objective stylistics’, Language and Communication 16, 1, pp. 81 -93. Short, M. et al. (1998) ‘Stylistics, criticism and mythrepresentation again: squaring the circle with Ray Mackay’s subjective solution for all problems’, Language and Literature 7, 1, pp. 39 -40. Mackay, R. (1999) ‘There goes the other foot: a reply to Short et al. ’ Language and Literature 8, 1, pp. 59 -66. Short, M. and W. van Peer (1999) ‘A reply to Mackay’ , Language and Literature 8, 3, 269 -75.

Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? n n n It lays bare Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? n n n It lays bare part of what is involved in the process of textual understanding and interpretation It pushes students to be more precise and analytical in thinking about understanding and interpretation If you know the techniques of stylistic analysis, you have something to do if you get stuck interpretatively It pushes students to think harder about the linguistic structure of texts and cognitive processes in understanding And now for something different. . . a short simple text (a poem), which is interesting both linguistically and critically, to illustrate these points:

Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? THE SECRET SITS We dance round Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? THE SECRET SITS We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. (Robert Frost)

Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? S V A A cj V Stylistics as an aid for understanding and learning? S V A A cj V {[We | dance| round| in a ring] and [suppose, ]} cj S V A Cj V But {[ the Secret | sits| in the middle] and [knows. ]}

What is the overall structure of the sentence (coordination layering)? S S´ cj S´ What is the overall structure of the sentence (coordination layering)? S S´ cj S´ S´ S´´ cj S´´

Can stylistics aid weak students? n n n It can help, but it depends Can stylistics aid weak students? n n n It can help, but it depends on how weak the student is and why It helps students to talk about texts as well as feelings, and be explicit about them It helps students to become aware of all that needs to be explained in understanding and communication Stylistic analysis is useful for teachers to know, and then adapt to an appropriate level (cf. grammatical analysis) It is possible to teach ‘pre-stylistics’ to students who can’t cope (yet) with ‘the terminology’ (!)

Can stylistics aid weak students? But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was Can stylistics aid weak students? But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah, 53, v) They punched, kicked and gralloched him.

Questions? Questions?

B. The overall investigation § A comparison of two teaching methods (same content and B. The overall investigation § A comparison of two teaching methods (same content and pedagogical philosophy): § Web-based learning format § Traditional lecture/seminar-based format § Aim: § To compare student responses and learning outcomes to WWW-based and more traditional teaching of stylistic analysis § Level: § An introductory stylistics course, aimed primarily at first-year undergraduates (in the UK)

Mick’s course design philosophy § Linguistic tools should be. . drip-fed § Linguistic tools Mick’s course design philosophy § Linguistic tools should be. . drip-fed § Linguistic tools should be made ‘relevant’ § Learning should be FUN! § Materials should be varied § Task-based learning in bite-sized chunks For more details see: D. Mc. Intyre (2003) Using foregrounding theory as a teaching methodology in a stylistics course. Style 37(1): 1 -14. M. Short and D. Archer (2003) Designing a world-wide webbased stylistics course and investigating its effectiveness. Style 37(1): 27 -46.

Timetable for investigation December 2000 to present Development of materials & Lancaster Pilot September Timetable for investigation December 2000 to present Development of materials & Lancaster Pilot September 2003 - June 2005 Comparison of student reaction to the web-based and traditional formats (and other agreed investigations) at Lancaster and other institutions Would you like to join in the investigation? September 2005 I want to make the course freely WWW-available to all

Support given to collaborators The teaching § The web-based course online, password protected § Support given to collaborators The teaching § The web-based course online, password protected § A full set of lecture/seminar handouts for the traditional version of the course (if required) § Video-taped recordings of the lectures for the traditional version of the course (taken during 2001 -2) § Discussion group – email/online facility The experiment § Advice about when and how to administer the questionnaires, run the focus groups and conduct interviews § Advice on analysing collected data

Collaborators will need to: § § § Give initial comments on materials Provide me Collaborators will need to: § § § Give initial comments on materials Provide me with copies of handouts and other materials used in their location with their students Provide a complete set of questionnaires, transcripts of tape-recordings, marking scheme, data on essay and examination grading etc. Publish their own results (alone and/or cooperatively) Make investigative data accessible to other collaborators

Questions? Questions?

C. The web-based course n n n Task-based with variation in task types Features C. The web-based course n n n Task-based with variation in task types Features to aid navigation round the site Pages designed to be clear and ‘easy on the eye’ ‘Smileys’ Audio and video clips Chat café Self-tests Printer-friendly notes Glossary Self-assessment mechanism Links to other sites (e. g. author sites, the UCL Internet Grammar of English)

The URLs § Language and Style course: http: //www. ling. lancs. ac. uk/internet_stylistics/start. htm The URLs § Language and Style course: http: //www. ling. lancs. ac. uk/internet_stylistics/start. htm Username: Password : stylistics 131 course § Collaborators’ website: http: //www. ling. lancs. ac. uk/internet_stylistics/tutors/ (same username and password as above) § Includes electronic versions of Mc. Intyre (2003) and Short and Archer (2003), advice, lecture/seminar handouts etc. CD-ROM: Course | Collaborators’

Questions? Questions?

The Lancaster 2002 -3 pilot investigation (January–March 2003) Pilot of an introductory stylistics course The Lancaster 2002 -3 pilot investigation (January–March 2003) Pilot of an introductory stylistics course for first year undergraduates § § § § § One term course Three ‘hours’ of contact time in workshops (‘ 2 +1’) Students encouraged to work in pairs Tutors present to give advice in all workshops The ‘ 2 -hour’ workshop contained a 15 -minute discussion session with the tutor Poetry and prose sections taught via web-based workshops Drama section taught via traditional workshops Chat café ‘Printer-friendly’ notes facility

Investigative instruments § Questionnaires § Initial § Medial (after poetry and prose) § Final Investigative instruments § Questionnaires § Initial § Medial (after poetry and prose) § Final (last week of the course) § Tape-recorded interviews (following questionnaires) § Tape-recorded focus group discussions (following questionnaires) § Observations by tutors and observers of workshop sessions § (Video recordings)

Initial questionnaire: topics covered Their familiarity with the web … All had several years Initial questionnaire: topics covered Their familiarity with the web … All had several years experience Student views of the perceived (dis)advantages of web-based … Main advantage: able to review material/work at own courses pace … Main disadvantage: impersonal/tutor contact limited Their attitude towards pairedwork Their previous experience of English language in general, and stylistics in particular … 40 against, 19 in favour … Mixed

Mid-course questionnaire (49 returns) + - Scale reflecting students’ general opinion of the course Mid-course questionnaire (49 returns) + - Scale reflecting students’ general opinion of the course overall 1 5 2 20 3 20 4 4 5 0 Easy 2 8 21 16 2 Difficult Clear 10 14 25 0 0 Unclear Fun 3 15 17 13 1 Boring Very interesting § Advantages Not at all interesting - material can be reviewed/can work at own pace - able to discuss ideas with partner § Disadvantages – No tutor; two-hour session too long/hard on eyes

Our “response” § Students not expected to work “solidly” at the computer for two Our “response” § Students not expected to work “solidly” at the computer for two hours § Pair-work discussions § Tutor-led group discussions § Students had a 10 -minute break in the ‘ 2 hour’ session § However, whole group discussions were difficult § Computers too noisy/room layout not amenable § So we switched to smaller discussion groups § Proved popular. Students said: helped with shyness, less intimidating, easier to hear, a break from the screen, more personal

End-of-course questionnaire (43 returns) Scale reflecting students’ general opinion of the course overall 1 End-of-course questionnaire (43 returns) Scale reflecting students’ general opinion of the course overall 1 2 3 4 5 Very interesting 7 16 15 5 0 Not at all interesting Easy 0 9 22 11 0 Difficult Clear 7 20 12 3 0 Unclear Fun 2 12 20 7 1 Boring

Perceived disadvantages at end of course § Too much material § Grammar sessions too Perceived disadvantages at end of course § Too much material § Grammar sessions too difficult § These are typical criticisms of the course, whether webbased or lecture/seminar-based § Length of sessions § ‘Self-taught’ § = no lecturer present? § Too demanding, takes too much time § Again a standard comment on the course, whatever the mode

Perceived advantages at end of course § Accessibility (especially useful for revision) § Paired-work Perceived advantages at end of course § Accessibility (especially useful for revision) § Paired-work ultimately seen as a positive (2 -to-1) § NB. Paired-work could still prove problematic, especially if partner missed a session or worked at a different pace

Changes to be introduced § 3 X 50 minute sessions § New and better Changes to be introduced § 3 X 50 minute sessions § New and better venue – dedicated to Linguistics teaching § Room format better for workshop teaching - Able to split the groups, enabling better group discussions - Beamer + screen for wholeclass work § LCD screens - Less tiring on the eyes

Coursework essay results No significant statistical difference when compared to last year’s marks (52. Coursework essay results No significant statistical difference when compared to last year’s marks (52. 7 : 55. 4 (53. 5 : 57. 1 if zero marks discounted)). Number of students similar. Issue of uncontrolled variables … n Students, texts and markers were different However … n Mick acted as a standardiser for sample scripts n Standardisation also a feature of the Self Assessment mechanism

Examination Results n n 2001 -2 Average = 53. 02 2002 -3 Average = Examination Results n n 2001 -2 Average = 53. 02 2002 -3 Average = 52. 83 § No zeros – marks on scripts used, so non-attendees (very few, as per cwa) ignored § Markers/standardising situation as per cwa

Conclusions … to date n n n n Web-based mode did not appear to Conclusions … to date n n n n Web-based mode did not appear to disadvantage students Course rating good (but not as good as previous years? ) Students prefer a combination of lecture/seminars and web-based materials (but may attitudes change – they tend to like what they have been used to from school) Social element difficult to reproduce Self-assessment mechanism was used, but patchily Web-based learning most appreciated when in distancemode? Special difficulties involved in investigating (Lancaster) first-year students

Questions? Questions?