Villalve Qualitative Article

Villalve Qualitative Article

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I had some trouble determining which of the two articles that I read would be most beneficial for the class to read. The quantitative piece on Chinese learners of English fit very well with the course. It exemplified the word recognition view of reading that we have discussed and addressed themes and theoretical frameworks (common underlying proficiency, contrastive analysis, the monolingual perspective) that have come up on many occasions in our class. In the end however I chose the qualitative article from Villalve. My primary justification for this is that the article is so different from the readings we have done in class that I feel it has something more unique to contribute.
The primary focus of the article was to consider diverse literacy practices in detail and also to look at approaches to inquiry, learning, and meaning making. In order to do this, Villalve took a case study approach to look at two 17 year-old bilingual Latina students during their last year of high school. These students were involved in an ongoing senior writing project that entailed collecting information from a diverse set of resources, collaborating with other students and school faculty, and finally submitting a thesis and making a final presentation. From this it is clear that one of the primary ways that this article differs from much of what our class has read so far is the age of the students involved. Relatively little data seems to exist on literacy practices of high school bilinguals and this is one reason I feel this article has something to offer the class.
Another somewhat unique feature of this article relative to much of the other work we have looked at is the research paradigm and theoretical framework for the work. In terms of Mertens research paradigms, this article fits both into a constructivist and transformative frame. The reliance on the work of Fairclough (2001) and others and the concern with broad societal level discourse practices set this article apart from other pieces we have read. Also, in terms of the theoretical frames, Villalve utilizes an ecological approach to frame her data collection and analysis. For this she makes use of Barton (1994) in particular to define her 3-part framework for data analysis. Her 3 levels of analysis are hierarchical and start from the level of language as artifact (physical samples of writing etc.) From this she moves up to 2 larger frames of interaction and imagination and finally systems and contexts.

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In my opinion, Villalve utilized this framework well in terms of designing data collection methodology and finding themes in the data. Generally, the ecological framework itself, as well as the way Villalve utilized the framework in her writing, both make this article stand out from others we have read.
In my view, this article also exemplifies what it means to provide a detailed and accurate accounting of data collection and analysis procedures in qualitative work. I find that many qualitative studies break down in this regard, with poor reporting of coding schemes and often convoluted explanations of collection and analysis procedures. This article made good use of explanatory tables (see Table II, p. 96, Table III, p. 104, and Table IV, p. 105) to clarify the relationship between raw data and theoretical framework. And it also provided other appropriate detail in the appendices of the article.
Findings from the two cases were also quite interesting. The two women differed greatly in their approaches to inquiry but one commonality was the way in which they utilized personal social networks in their academic research. For Belinda, findings showed that she relied on repetition and patchwriting (at the text as artifact level) and sought consensus in her interactions with members of her social networks, incorporating little of her own voice. Leesa however, was involved and engaged in the process of actively integrating diverse voices into her work and ultimately making the product her own. Leesa also chose to link her academic research to a social project outside of the school thus showing that she was able to transform her project into something personally meaningful, essentially taking agency over the process.
In her discussion of these findings, Villalve came to the conclusion that there were hidden literacy practices at work with both of these women. Hidden in the sense that their approaches to inquiry and academic language development may be at odds with established and “acceptable” ways of conducting academic inquiry. Villalve felt that both women were making use of social networks in ways that maybe paralleled how other students might consult print materials as references and resources to support their work. Villalve’s broad concern seemed to be that the accepted discourse of research and academic study may be at odds with the ways in which Belinda and Leesa approached inquiry and academic language development, thus potentially disadvantaging them and devaluing their contribution. In her discussion of possible multiple forms of academic literacy, the author said, “Theories of multiple literacies can inform discussions of academic English by encouraging the consideration of a broader range of academic performance and by valuing culturally and linguistically based literacy practices of language minority youth” (121).
Overall I enjoyed the article and felt that it potentially had much to offer our class, particularly in terms of how different it was from much of what we have read so far. There were weaknesses in the article, especially relating to her lack of presentation of data on home literacy practices of the two girls, but generally this felt like sound qualitative research from within a well articulated research framework.

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