Writing Lives

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Practicing auto-ethnographic research methods common to the social sciences, this badging pathway helps you examine and understand how writing, in all its forms, functions in your daily life.  After some preliminary reading and research about writing in the lives of young people, you will come up with a focused, significant research question to explore through data collection methods of self-study like journalling, think-aloud protocols, daily logs, and/or artifact analysis. You’ll spend at least seven days collecting data that helps you answer your question on your writing habits, tools, genres, mediums, emotions, etc. and then analyze that data to “find your findings” about the role of writing in your daily life. To share your inquiry and results with the university community, you’ll produce a research poster suitable for URI’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research.

This is a research-intensive badge.

Level I Activities

What does writing look like in your life? When do you write? Where do you write? Why do you write? What tools do you use?  What genres and media do you write in most?  What are your perceptions of your writing?  How have those perceptions changed over time? Write a 250-word response to those questions.

Read the following short articles that address writing in young people’s lives.  As you read annotate for main ideas, key points, statements that you agree or disagree with, things that bother you or excite you, and anything that sparks your interest.  What in these readings would you like to know more about and study?  What here connects to your own writing life?

Texting Erodes Writing Skills?  R U Kidding Me?
Opinion:  Video Games Taught Me How to Write
Young People Let Digital Apps Dictate Their Identities, Say Two Scholars

Return to your first response. How is writing in your life similar to or different from what you’ve read about writing in the lives of contemporary young people? Write a 300-word mini-essay that references at least two of the readings above and places your writing life inside the larger picture of writing in young people’s lives. Integrate the sources, responsibly using paraphrasing and direct quotations (sparingly), in-text citations, and a works cited list.

Level II Activities

Using the your answers to questions about what you’d like to know more about regarding writing in your life, narrow your focus to a single question that you will explore in more detail by collecting primary data on your own writing practices. For example, if you interested in the ways likes and comments on your Instagram page affect your emotional wellbeing, you might ask, “How do I feel when I review comments or favorites on my Instagram posts?”  If you are interested in the places or genres in which you use texting language, you might ask, “In which contexts do I use text language? Are these uses more dependent on my audience, the context, my purpose, or the writing tool that I’m using?”  If you are interested in the differences between self-sponsored and school writing in your life, you might ask, “How does my writing process (or mood or confidence) change when I write for academic and personal purposes?”


Write a 500-word research proposal with SUBHEADINGS for each category (see below). The purpose of this proposal is to convince your professor that you have read a bit on your topic, have a clear question that you can research, and a clear plan to analyze data to answer your question.  Your proposal should include the following sections:

  • Introduction: introduce the broad topic and your research question. Discuss why it should matter to URI Students.
  • Annotated Bibliography (3-5 library research sources): Use MLA format. Include a one-sentence summary of the source (use summary guidelines in Resources). Include an evaluation of the source (use the CRAAP test). You must state why the source is credible, timely,  and accurate. Include a statement of how this source is relevant to your research question.
  • Data Collection Plan: What sources of personal data will you collect to answer your question? When? For how long? What are the limitations of this plan? You need a substantial amount of data to draw meaningful conclusions, so plan to put time and effort into this step.
  • Plan for coding, analyzing & interpreting data: How will you sort the data into meaningful units and draw conclusions? What are the limitations of your study?
  • Project timeline (List dates and tasks.)


Conduct your research according to plan approved by your professor.  Collect and analyze your data. Bring your data to class. Work with others to help you see patterns, outliers, and significance in your data. Ask your peers and instructor:

  • How does this data help you answer your question?
  • What does it “say”?
  • What examples from the data support your claim?
  • Come up with two or three major “findings” with evidence from this research that help you answer your question.

Read the Do’s and Don’ts Section of Collin Purrington’s Designing Conference Posters.  Review examples of previous student research posters below, paying attention to the layout, design, writing style, sections, use of photographs, color schemes, fonts, sizing and contrast, charts, etc.

Level III Activities

Use one of these templates to produce a digital or large-scale hand-build mock-up draft of your poster. You must include visual elements, such as graphs and charts, and all of the following sections on your poster:

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Findings
  • Conclusions
  • Works Cited in MLA format


Using peer and instructor feedback, revise your poster. Making sure to edit and proofread all text carefully.

Required evidence for to submit in Google Folders for this pathway:

Level 1

  • 250 Word Writing Response
  • 300 Word Mini-Essay in MLA format

Level 2

  • 500 word research proposal (Includes 3-5 additional outside sources)
  • Your data in whatever form is appropriate to your project

Level 3

  • Large-scale poster mock-up (hand-build or digital)
  • Recorded peer review of draft poster
  • Revised Digital Poster

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