My final project will be a research proposal on the topic of new media pedagogy. My research question will be something along the lines of: “How should literacy be taught in primary schools based on the growing emphasize away from writing for print and toward writing for a digital world?” However, I plan to alter this research question based on what I identify to be a gap in the current scholarship on the topic. For my literature review I will look at sources that discuss the need for new media pedagogy as well as sources that suggest ways to teach students new media literacy. The class readings thoroughly cover digital media studies at the college level. I will use these readings as a starting point for discussing trends in new media teaching. However, I will find my own scholarly sources to discuss teaching new media literacy at the elementary level. Thus far, I have met with the research librarian who helped me find these sources. I believe that I am in a good place to begin my literature review. To write the most coherent literature review I can, I am going to answer the questions posed on the final project design assignment sheet. This is how I wrote my Political Science thesis proposal literature review and it was successful. Hence, I will stick with this format because I am comfortable with it and I believe it is the best way for me to identify the gaps in current scholarship.
My research design goal is to contribute to the scholarship by suggesting a new idea. I do not want to simply elaborate on another’s findings, especially since this is a new topic and it is likely that past research either has its shortcomings or needs to be updated. Thus far, it appears as though scholars all agree that elementary students need to be introduced to digital media, but they disagree on how this should be done. As a younger researcher, I think it is possible to propose a unique suggestion based on my own experiences with technology in elementary school.
My plan for conducting original research is mostly likely going to include testing my suggestions for how literacy should be taught in primary schools in actual elementary school classrooms. I would want to test each idea on a different classroom and evaluate which idea works the best. Classrooms would be selected based on their similar demographic characteristics. The best classrooms to study would be ones with middle-class students who have been exposed to digital technology outside of school but not necessarily in school. This way I could isolate the two variables: the presence of new media pedagogy and the students’ success in learning to use the digital technology efficiently. I would not want to pilot my ideas on inner-city schools because these students may not be as well-prepared to work with digital technology in school if they have not learned to use it at home. Additionally, I would not want to test my ideas on upper-class students because these students have likely been exposed to digital media in the past, and it would be difficult to isolate the effect my idea has on the students’ learning outcomes.
I would measure the results by evaluating student work and also interviewing individual students and their teachers. Ideally, the best idea would lead to the best student work as measured by the integration of digital media in literacy studies. The student work would demonstrate a newly developed understanding of writing for different media. Furthermore, students and teachers surveyed would express approval for the new instruction form. They would personally see tangible results. On the other hand, a poorly designed method of teaching digital literacy would leave students more confused than they started. They would not learn how to correctly and effectively use digital technology to facilitate their learning. Additionally, students and teachers would explain what they think went wrong in their surveys. Based on this analysis, I would identify the best way to teach writing for a digital world in elementary schools, and write a conclusion discussing why this method worked best. I would also want to include a plan of how it can be implemented in different types of classrooms.
I will end my research proposal by explaining why new media pedagogy is worth investigating. Although I have yet to review the existing literature on the topic, I predict that the demands of the digital age require young students to be literate in digital technology and digital writing. With new social media platforms being developed, students need to know how to write appropriately for a large, imagined audience. In this day and age, students no longer write just for their teachers and professors, but also for a broad digital audience. Digital media literacy implies that students know how to both write for strictly private academic purposes as well as public blogging. Because parents are often unaware of the risks that come with digital media, it may be up to the schools to teach students how to write for a digital age. Since it seems as though no one can agree on how to best teach digital literacy, my investigation seeks to close this gap in scholarship by proposing and testing possible solutions.