In today’s class, we’re having visits from Dr. John Logie and Dr. Christina Haas, both professors in the department. Logie will be talking about rhetorical analysis and Haas about grounded theory.
We read two studies for today; not surprisingly, they employed rhetorical analysis and grounded theory. Here they are:
Harper, F. M., Weinberg, J., Logie, J., & Konstan, J. A. (2010). Question types in social Q&A sites. First Monday, 15(7). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/rt/printerFriendly/2913/2571
Teston, C. B. (2009). A Grounded Investigation of Genred Guidelines in Cancer Care Deliberations. Written Communication, 26(3), 320 -348. doi:10.1177/0741088309336937
The Harper study (on which Prof. Logie was also an author) involved analysis of 300 questions from question and answer web sites (including Yahoo Answers and Answerbag). The goals of the study were:
- “Produce a taxonomy of question types drawing on core principles of rhetorical theory that is tailored to the study of online question asking.”
- “Develop an initial understanding of the properties of the different question types.”
- “Develop an initial understanding of the quality implications of the different question types” (§ 1.1).
They developed a taxonomy of questions, based initially on Aristotle’s three species of rhetoric (deliberative, epideictic, and forensic). For purposes of question taxonomy, the researchers considered Kenneth Burke when coming up with two “sub-species” of each species: Subspecies of deliberative are advice and identification; of epideictic, (dis)approval and quality; and of forensic, prescriptive and factual.
Two rhetoricians coded 300 questions according to this taxonomy. The researchers then considered the linguistic characteristics of the questions and found the taxonomy corresponded to linguistic differences. They then asked undergraduates to evaluate the questions on several vectors and looked for patterns between the taxonomy’s categories and the students’ responses. They found and reported several.
I have some questions:
- How did they select the questions they coded?
- Are “factual” questions really past-based/forensic? (§ 2.2)
- Why are the two questions coded as “not a question” (§ 4.1) coded that way.
- The researchers implied the undergraduate student evaluations were “coding”; weren’t they really questionnaire resposes?
- Could they use more sophisticated NLP tools (POST and machine learning)?
I enjoyed the Teston study. In it, Teston considered “how medical experts from various specialties collaboratively deliberate about future action using a range of rhetorical strategies” (322). She used genre theory, charter document theory, and Toulmin’s analysis of arguments to assess and theorize this space (323). She used grounded theory to begin her study; her descriptions of her method still seemed a bit of a black box.
She analyzed the temporal and contextual roles of references to certain national cancer treatment standards in cancer-care debates among physicians (330-33), noting that discussion of the standards often arises as a link between the science of cancer treatment and the patients’ experiences. She then analyzed one of the NCCN standards using Toulmin (334-342), but she suggests that the form of the document matters in the case of this example.
- Teston claims on 346 that she has “explored the ways that the Standard of Care document rhetorically excludes and includes ways of seeing and doing.” Has she actually done this?