The First Year Writing department at St. John's University, being part of the Institute for Writing Studies, mandates that every Composition instructor select three student portfolios at the end of the semester to review with the department. The point of this is to improve pedagogy by asking and writing about a series of research questions. As a group, we have one research question. As individuals, we also have subquestions that are unique to our coursework and interests.
This year's group question is:
What in students' writing shows their reactions to and relationship with the course materials presented to them?
I have been struggling to define my own research questions, but these are the ones that I have been thinking about:
What changes or improvements do students note in their own writing? Do these align with your objectives for them?
How do students cross the threshold between classroom theory and real-world application?
What do students feel is most important to learn in their quest to be coming a "good writer"? How does this change throughout the semester? How is it demonstrated in their work?
I'd love to hear some feedback! Are those questions you already ask? Do you have better questions? I'm really struggling to come to terms with the best questions. I want to ask questions that will enable me to take into consideration my students' motives and also my own teaching. My goal is to improve my teaching of writing.