Writing and Technology: The Effects of Experimental Instruction in First-Year College Courses

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I claim my theoretical framework for this study under two broad assumptions. First: Critical realism, and especially its ontology, offers much to the analysis of education research. Second: Much current education research commits to one of two mistaken ontological positions: the empirical realist ontology in which positivist analysis lives and breathes (Davidsen, 2005; O'Boyle & McDonough, 2011); and the social constructionist ontology in which post-modernist or post-structuralist analysis lives and breathes (Arnd-Caddigan & Pozzuto, 2006; Fleetwood, 2005).
Despite the contributions that post-modernism and post-structuralism offer, it seems to me that in the abandonment of positivism, post-modernists and post-structuralists
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In contrast to post-modern approaches, critical realism maintains the assumption that an objective reality exists independent from the individual. I agree. However, the relationship between reality and our knowledge about it remains asymmetrical. In other words, the fact that concepts necessarily mediate empirical observations does not mean that they exist solely as products of these concepts. Instead, these observations depend (at least partially) on the structural properties of the real objects observed (Sayer, 2000, p.41). As a critical realist, I aim to develop causal explanations for general mechanisms. However, in contrast to positivist approaches, I resist implying causality from their universal co-occurrence.
How Critical Realism Applies to My Study I investigate an exceptionally complicated phenomenon – namely, writing performance. The act of writing depends both on an infinite cascade of neuro-physiological causes and effects set in motion years before the writer first strikes a key or lifts a pencil and on the subtle milieu in which the writer finds herself at the moment of
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