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SOAR 2018 Gabrielle Stanley ’21

Gabrielle Stanley ’21

“Toward Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation of the Teaching of Writing in Local High Schools”

Major: English
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Crystal N. Fodrey

Describe your project.

In an attempt to learn as much as I could about current writing education at both the high school and collegiate levels, I interviewed high school teachers and analyzed student responses to the question: “What is good writing?” In doing so, I’ve been able to discover trends in both teacher and student perceptions of what “good” writing is, and how it should be taught.

How did your project come about?

After conducting a much smaller version of my research in Dr. Fodrey’s Intro to Writing Arts course, I was interested in learning more and reached out to Dr. Fodrey to ask if I would be able to continue my research. She then suggested SOAR, and we developed the research design together.

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights has she brought to your project?

Dr. Fodrey is undoubtedly the best faculty member to work with in regards to anything involved in writing studies. She is so well versed in the subject and was able to provide feedback and information throughout the whole process. The research she conducts with Chris Hassay is very similar to the research that I conducted, so there was never any guesswork. Although she did allow me to be independent and learn by doing rather than by being explicitly instructed on every minor detail, she was able to answer any questions I had and point me in the right direction.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

My biggest obstacle, marginally, has been trying to get in contact with teachers. The original timeline of my project called for my interviews to be done by early June, and had estimated that I would be able to talk to 25-30 teachers from varying subject areas. This was so far from the reality. I wasn’t able to finish my interviews until the beginning of July, and only heard back from English teachers (save for one Social Studies teacher).

Stanley inset.jpg

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from the SOAR experience is that working within a community of passionate academic researchers is incredibly rewarding. Watching other student presentations and talking to my peers about their projects was always interesting to me, and I loved to see students with such a drive for their work. I’ve also found that although I tend to stress out a lot with this sort of work, when I accomplish something (even something small) I feel a great sense of pride.

What was the result of your project?

I’m not sure that I can provide a definite “result” of the project, other than to say that my to-do list has lengthened considerably. I plan on continuing my work so that I can gather more data, solidify my findings, and hopefully present those findings in other venues.

Overall, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?

Firstly, I feel extremely lucky to have been awarded this opportunity. I have accomplished more than I ever envisioned for myself upon entering college, and have experienced significant personal growth throughout the summer. I would encourage any student to take advantage of the SOAR program if they find themselves passionate about a certain subject. Not only does it allow students to develop as undergraduate researchers, but it also allows them to form a bond with a faculty member in their field of interest, which for me has been extremely rewarding. I could not ask for a better SOAR experience and would recommend it to anyone.

Do you plan to expand upon your research?

I plan on spending the fall semester researching a bit more casually, then doing an Independent Study in the spring to once again work rigorously on my research. There is so much I want to accomplish in this field, and I look forward to continuing to learn and hopefully enact some sort of change.

Any plans to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?

I’ve talked to Dr. Fodrey about submitting my work to academic journals, and also submitting it to present at conferences such as the Conference on College Composition & Communication Convention, which will be held in Pittsburgh next year.