“Student Engagement Research in Higher Education: Questioning an Academic Orthodoxy” – Zepke

“Student Engagement Research in Higher Education: Questioning an Academic Orthodoxy” by Nick Zepke

Article Citation: Zepke, Nick. “Student Engagement Research in Higher Education: Questioning an Academic Orthodoxy.” Teaching in Higher Education 19.6 (2014): 697-708. Web.

Abstract (From Source):

This article suggests that student engagement research is not often investigated critically. It attempts to change this. After briefly outlining a conceptual framework for student engagement, it explores three critical questions about it. First, it asks whether in trying to be all things in teaching and learning, student engagement focuses too much on an engaged generic learner that neglects the impact of specific contexts. Second, it asks whether engagement research, with its focus on identifying engaging classroom practices, has come to emphasise pedagogy at the expense of curriculum, which is a more philosophical and political understanding of purposes, knowledge and values in higher education. It asks, third, whether student engagement has gained its high profile because it aligns with and supports a neoliberal ideology that has an instrumental view of knowledge and emphasises performativity and accountability.

Keywords: student engagement, higher education, pedagogy, accountability, performance, student investment

Further Reading: 

  • Fredricks, J., P. Blumenfeld, and A. Paris. 2004. “School Engagement: Potential of the Concept, State of the Evidence.” Review of Educational Research 74 (1): 59–109.
  • Higher Education Academy. 2010. Framework for Action: Enhancing Student Engagement at the Institutional Level.
  • Kuh, G. 2009. “The National Survey of Student Engagement: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations.” New Directions for Institutional Research 141: 5–20.
  • Lam, S., B. Wong, H. Yang, and M. Liu. 2012. “Understanding Student Engagement with a Conceptual Model.” Handbook of Research on Student Engagement, edited by S. Christenson, A. Reschly, and C. Wylie, 403–420. Heidelberg: Springer

Key Quotes:

“Behavioural engagement relates to participation in academic and social activities leading to positive academic outcomes. Emotional engagement is about reactions to and relationships with teachers, classmates and administrators that encourage a love of learning. Cognitive engagement points to investment in deep learning of concepts and skills” (698).

“In the UK the emphasis seems more on facilitating a student’s own sense of what learning is in a constructivist framework, whereas the American view fits more with facilitating learning within a predetermined and generic pedagogical framework” (699).

“The surveys conceptualise engagement as a technical construct focusing on behaviours. Monitoring the quality of engagement is measurable, objective and universal” (700).

“Students must have control of and autonomy in their learning. They must also be encouraged to take a critical view of their learning and be able to disengage without being characterised as alienated” (700).

“Student engagement research, with its focus on ‘what works’, takes a lead role in how pedagogy is constructed. This renders wider concerns such as purposes, knowledge and values of higher education largely invisible” (701).

“student engagement describes a learning fashioned to actively commit to a task, to problem solve and to feel a strong sense of belonging” (701).

“According to neoliberalist ideology, knowledge is a commodity. Higher education is a market where knowledge and skills are traded. Universities offer marketable knowledge and skill as as well as supplying marketable services” (702).


Further Questions:

  • If engagement is generalist and is used more as a buzz word or assessment tool for students, instructors, and the institution, then would investment be a better term for the research of the student?
  • It is made clear that engagement is not just on the instructor, but also the student. However, it is important for the instructor to get the students to invest in their education and be given the tools to hack their education–become agents to their education. Not every instructor does this, and it is very difficult to do this in a large lecture. Even though the article doesn’t specify disciplines, are FYC instructors in prime position to do this?

“Disciplinarity and Transfer: Students’ Perceptions of Learning to Write” – Bergmann and Zepernick

“Disciplinarity and Transfer: Students’ Perceptions of Learning to Write”  by Bergmann and Zepernick

Article Citation: Bergmann, Linda S., and Janet Zepernick. “Disciplinarity and Transfer: Students’ Perceptions of Learning to Write.” Writing Program Administration 31.1-2 (2007): 124-149. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

Abstract: Writing instructors from the University of Missouri-Rolla conducted focus groups of students from FYC and upper level discipline classes to find out how students could talk about disciplinarity, rhetoric, and writing process. The school is invested in a strong WAC and writing center program that values writing intensive classes and has a high concentration of students in the sciences. They were also looking for transfer from FYC and English literature classes and other disciplines. Their findings were that the students talked about writing in a basic rhetorical manner, however, their attribute most of their writing skills to their discipline’s classes instead of the FYC and literature classes. The students typically found their science based classes gave them real world application and did not see the English classes as having a discipline.

Keywords: Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Studies, Disciplinarity, Rhetoric, Composition

Key Quotes:

“The terms students used to characterize the kind of writing they did in FYC and other courses in the English Department included ‘fluff,’ ‘b.s.,’ and ‘flowery,’ whereas in talking about the writing they did in other classes, students used descriptors such as ‘concise,’ ‘to the point,’ and ‘not a lot of flowery adjectives'” (125)

“We suspected that students grouped everything they were taught about academic writing in FYC under the heading of ‘How to b.s. your way through an English paper with a lot of flowery adjectives and other fluff,’ and therefore failed to perceive the transferability of most of what these courses purported to teach them about writing” (125)

“Students’ conceptions of learning to write are composed of some combination of individual experience and peer culture” (126).

“We were particularly impressed by the students’ perceptions of themselves as agents of their own learning, rather than as recipients of an imposed curriculum” (128).

“Before students arrive n college writing classrooms, they already share certain preconceptions about writing and what it means to learn to write; and that those preconceptions limit students’ ability to recognize, understand, or, finally, make use of most of the skills that composition teachers are trying to teach” (128-9).

“Students tend to think of writing in English classes as personal and expressive rather than academic or professional, and therefore think that teachers’ comments and suggestions represent an unwarranted ‘intrusion’ into students’ own personal and intellectual territory” (129).

“It is not surprising that students could suppose that the institution as a whole did not place a high value on the content of the FYC course compared to writing in the disciplines), particularly since so many students met the FYC requirement through SAT or other test scores or dual-credit high school programs” (130).

“they feel this ownership and because they perceive no discipline behind English teachers’directions and comments,t hey take writing teachers’ suggestions as meddling rather than teaching or coaching” (132).

“Students freely admitted to mechanical carelessness in writing for faculty outside the English Department on the grounds that teachers in other content areas only care about facts and ideas, not the surface qualities of writing” (132).

“Several students argued that FYC does not do enough to teach and enforce grammatical correctness and editing skills, skills that they believed to be of primary importance in the workplace, and the only skills our respondents seemed willing to allow English faculty to teach them” (133).

“Study participants showed their conviction that he purpose of school writing is to get a grade, that the audience is the teacher, and that a successful paper must take into account both stated constraints (length requirement, number of sources, and sometimes even sentence types that must be included) and unstated (a teacher’s known preference for papers that exceed the length requirement, or a teacher’s obsession with what students typically see as meaningless details)” (133-4).

“Students seemed to be completely unaware that the purpose of FYC might be to help them turn their rhetorical ‘street smarts’ into conscious methods of analysis–of situation-specific audiences, discourse communities, rhetorical situations, and relevant textual models–that they could then apply to writing situations in other contexts” (134).

“[Students were] highly product-oriented, believing that the final product of any piece of writing in school is the grade it received, and that the final product of a piece of writing at work is the extent of its acceptance or approval by their supervisor” (136).

Further Questions:

  • This study was conducted at a school with higher than average standardized testing scores with the affinity for the sciences AND most of the FYC classes were taught by literature professors without a rhetoric and composition background. Would the students that took FYC feel differently about what they learned in their writing classes if the instructors were engaging the students in multimodality, genre studies, genre transformation, etc?

“Beyond the Dialectic of Work and Play: A Serio-Ludic Rhetoric for Composition Studies.” – Rouzie

“Beyond the Dialectic of Work and Play: A Serio-Ludic Rhetoric for Composition Studies.” by Albert Rouzie

Article Citation: Rouzie, Albert. “Beyond the Dialectic of Work and Play: A Serio-Ludic Rhetoric for Composition Studies.” JAC 20.3 (2000): 627-58. Web.

Abstract (From Source): “I argue that the dichotomy between work and play in our culture continues to contribute to our alienation from creative connection to both work and play and that this dichotomy in English studies is further institionalized <sp> in composition studies. Although play may appear to exist outside the realm of rhetoric, where it is limited to “creative” or “expressive” writing, I argue that certain forms of play are highly rhetorical and that an emergent form of literacy must include fluency with the play element in the writing of both traditional and electronic discourse. Furthermore, in discussing play in the context of critical postmodernism, I argue that play does not
have to be apolitical, that its dialectical qualities can make it a powerful force for resistance and change” (629, emphasis mine).

Keywords: Play, Computers and Writing, Technology, Writing Studies, Ludology, Taylorism, serio-ludic (633), Rhetoric, composition

Further Reading:

  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: The Experience of
    Play in Work and Games. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1975.
  • Dryden, L.M. “Literature, Student-Centered Classrooms, and Hypermedia
    Environments.” Literacy and Computers: The Complications of Teaching
    and Learning with Technology. Ed. Cynthia L. Selfe and Susan Hilligoss.
    New York: MLA, 1994. 282-304.
  • Gibson, Walker. “Play and the Teaching ofWriting.” The Play of Language. Ed.
    Leonard F. Dean, Walker Gibson, and Kenneth G. Wilson. New York:
    Oxford UP, 1971. 281-87.
  • Runciman, Lex. “Fun?” College English 53 (1991): 156-62.


Key Quotes:

“Progressives who land in between [the two extremes] view play as the natural mode of cognitive development through which intrinsically motivated activity can free us from the oppressive, authoritarian traditions epitomized by the conservative approach” (628).

“The deeply entrenched divisions between work and play, seriousness and frivolity, and order and chaos inherited by educators ultimately impoverish our culture’s approach to literacy. By now it is a truism that computer technology has added new dimensions and requirements to our concept of literacy” (628-9).

“Despite the emergence of computer technology and its potential for enhancing the play element in literacy education, a normative ideology of work, reality, seriousness, practicality, and adult behavior continues to rule post-secondary institutions” (629).

“Even though the complexity of the word play itself suggests considerable slippage across the binary oppositions between work/play and seriousness/frivolity, the prevailing dichotomy between seriousness and play has been our culture’s most persistent approach to defining play” (630).

“We construct reality on the basis of work versus play, the elective versus the required, as if our attitudes and performance were prescribed by these categories: now we play; now we work” (630-1).

“If, in our work, we are alienated because we are not engaged in creative activity, we are likewise alienated from forms of play offered by the leisure industry in which we are mere consumers of prefabricated presentations. If one connotation of play is the freedom to engage in creative activity, the leisure industry offers not the freedom to be creative, but the freedom from the control of the work environment” (632-3, emphasis in original).

“Play’s rhetorical power lies in part in how it can reflect our most serious activities, but with a parodic twist, as in a funhouse mirror” (633).

“Play parodies not reality itself but an idea or image of reality held by players, participants, and audiences. Reality then, is put into play and reframed in the context of the rhetor/player and the audience” (634).

“Walker Gibson sees the writer as a ‘play-actor’ assuming various roles and masks in ‘dramatic play through language’ and thus functions as an antidote to the model of the writer as objective mapmaker (284-86). Both play and writing can, in this view, be seen as forms of ‘symbolic action’ through which individuals encounter and negotiate socio-cultural structures of meaning” (634).

“The process approach supports the practice of playing around with ideas by viewing writing as provisional, deferring performance anxiety by involving students with the associative, constructive, and discursive process of writing in the hope that they feel a sense of intrinsic motivation” (634-5).

“Serio-ludic play calls attention to itself as play while achieving rhetorical purposes by conveying content of a serious nature through playfully stylistic means” (635)

With the shift to the “process approach, a student subject has emerged: seemingly for the first time students might focus on the intricacies of their experiences of writing rather than solely on the fetishized product” (638).

“Computer technology, according to Lanham, returns rhetoric to a fruitful oscillation between truth and style that has always been one of its disturbing and enabling tensions. Western thought has been constituted by ‘two clusters of motive’ (game/play and ‘being serious’) that the computer’s liquid interface keeps in productive oscillation in a more or less sustained and self-conscious way (57)” (641).

“It is not underlife itself that must be overcome but the alienated nature of academic ‘gamesplaying’ that results in cynical manipulation of classroom behavior and writing for external rewards that prevents the commitment to examining roles and identity necessary for growth as a writer” (644).

“Underlife and, more broadly, serio-ludic play are not inherently disruptive of the social order; rather, they open up a space, an opportunity for critique, while they help to connect that process with what we think of as “real life” and help make the work of composition less onerous, alienated, and drudgelike. From this perspective, play does not stand in
the way of critical agendas; rather, it is a necessary but not sufficient element of social change. Play can, of course, be a force for containment rather than subversion, since, as Sutton-Smith points out, “games of disorder” are balanced out with “games of order.” The outcome of play depends on what you do with it, on your goals and values, as well as on the cultural and material conditions within which it is enacted” (645).

Further Questions:

  • If the serio-ludic approach to composition studies is delicate, but will bridge the gap between work and play in academia, is game-based pedagogy the answer to its implementation?
  • There is a large focus on hypertextuality and digital compositions as being the playful options in the composition classroom. Rouzie stresses that the networked-classroom should be the focus of composition, but does this privilege those that have access to technology and previous technological skill?
  • I agree that bridging the gap between work and play is important in academia and the workplace, but is there an inherent balancing act that needs to be engaged in order to make sure writing instruction doesn’t fall in favor to experimentation and style? Don’t we have to help students understand disciplinary genres before we deconstruct them with technology?

“Wampum as Hypertext” – Haas

“Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Mulimedia Theory and Practice” by Angela M. Hass

Article Citation: Hass, Angela M. “Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19.4 (2007;2008;): 77-100.

Abstract (from source): “This essay traces a counterstory to Western claims to the origins of hypertext and multimedia by remembering how American Indian communities have employed wampum belts as hyper textual technologies—as wampum belts have extended human memories of inherited knowledges through interconnected, nonlinear designs and associative storage and retrieval methods—long before the ‘discovery’ of Western hypertext. By forging intellectual trade routes between Tehanetorens, Wallace, Williams, and other wampum historians with the work of Western hypertext theorists, such as Bush, Nelson, Bolter, and Landow, this essay positions American Indians as the first known skilled multimedia workers and intellectuals in the Americas” (77-8).

Keywords: Wampum, hypertextuality, American Indian, Memex, Xanadu, networks

Further Reading:

Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The computer, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. 2nd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001.

Landow, George P. Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.


Key Quotes:

“Wampum strings and belts served to engender further diplomatic relations, and their presentation was a gesture that required reciprocity on the part of the recipient. Consequently, accepting a gift of wampum meant that the recipient accepted its implied message and responsibility…a wampum is a living rhetoric that communicates a mutual relationship between two or more parties, despite the failure of one of those parties to live up to that promise” (80).

“Wampum embodies memory, as it extends human memories of inherited knowledges via interconnected, nonlinear designs with associative message storage and retrieval methods. And it is this complex rhetorical functioning that first engaged my thoughts on how Indians have always been hypertextual” (80-1).

“The Memex was described in [Dr. Vannevar] Bush’s 1945 Atlantic Monthly articles as an instrument designed to extend human memory by allowing us to associatively store and retrieve memories through nonlinear trails, or a webbed network, of interconnected scientific knowledge and data” (81).

“[Ted Nelson’s] dream of the Xandu ‘Docuverse’ has been partially fulfilled vis-a-vis the World Wide Web, despite the fact that the Web does not currently make all published information available nor do we currently have a system for ensuring hypertext copyright holders are paid whenever their intellectual property is used” (82).

“Given the preceding origin story, I posit that the ‘history’ of hypertext is a Western frontier story, a narrative that most often begins with the exploration of the land of Xanadu and the Memex and eventually leads to the trailblazing of the World Wide Web” (82).

“This essay demonstrates how wampum is an example of a pre-Memex, pre-Xanadu, and pre-Internet American Indian technology that was not only imagined but became a reality and that not only works like hypertext but in fact extends those capabilities beyond the current capacity of interconnected hypertexts we see on the ‘World Wide’ Web” (83).

“[based on treaty belt] the two rows symbolize two paths or two vessels, and though the two parties will travel together side by side, they will do so in their own boat. ‘Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other. Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel’ (74). Such everyday practices of digital coding result in culturally saturated visual rhetorics that signify meaning to those who revisit wampum treaties–not to mention the visual mnemonics associated with the subsequent rereading of wampum belts” (85).

“A wampum hypertext constructs an architectural mnemonic system of knowledge making and memory recollection through bead placement, proximity, balance, and color. Like colors are employed in Western visual design to signify certain moods or readers, the color usage of wampum reminds its ‘reader’ how to organize and read the story woven into the material rhetoric” (86).

“In order to memorize the belt and its story, the trained individual would impress in the mind the visual representation of the belt and subsequently forge mnemonic associations between the visual representation of the belt and the accompanying story” (89)

Further Questions:

  • The hypertextual maps (83) show the connections between the different nodes as outlined by Memex, Xanadu, and wampum models. Are these good representations? Wouldn’t the wampum–since it is culturally situation–be better served by a more ecological model? If it is being referenced to as a system without an end or a center with multiple layers of meaning at each node, would ecological models help to show the impacts and connectivity of this mode of communication?

“Revisualizing Composition: How First-Year Writers Use Composing Technologies” by Moore et al.

“Revisualizing Composition: How First-Year Writers Use Composing Technologies”

Jessie L. Moore, Paula Rosinski, Tim Peeples, Stacey Pigg, Martine Courant Rife, Beth Brunk-Chavez, Dundee lackey, Suzanne Kesler Rumsey, Robyn Tasaka, Paul Curran, Jeffrey t. Grabill

Article Citation: Moore et al. “Revisualizing Composition: How First-Year Writers Use Composing Technologies.” Computers and Composition 39 (2016): 1-13.

Abstract (from source): “Reporting on survey data from 1,366 students from seven colleges and universities, this article examines the self-reported writing choices of students as they compose different kinds of texts using a wide range of composing technologies, both traditional (i.e., paper,pencils, pens, etc.), and digital (i.e., cell phones, wikis, blogs, etc.). This analysis and discussion is part of the larger RevisualizingComposition study, which examines the writing lives of first-year students across multiple institution types throughout the UnitedStates. We focus especially on what appear to be, at first glance, contradictory or confusing results, because these moments ofambiguity in students’ use of composing technologies point to shifts or tensions in students’ attitudes, beliefs, practices andrhetorical decision-making strategies when writing in the 21stcentury. The implications of these ambiguous results suggest paths forcontinued collaborative research and action. They also, we argue, point to a need to foster students’ reflexive, critical, and rhetorical writing – across composing technologies – and to develop updated writing pedagogies that account for students’ flexible use of these technologies.”

Keywords (from source): students’ writing lives, composing technologies, 21st century writing, genres

Further Reading:

Frost, Erin A. (2011). Why teachers must learn: Student innovation as a driving factor in the future of the Web. Computers and Composition, 28(4), 269-275.

Jones, Chris, Ramanau, Rusland, Cross, Simon, & Healing, Graham. (2010). Net generation or digital natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university? Computers & Education, 54, 722-732

Mueller, Derek N. (2009). Digital underlife in the networked classroom. Computers and Composition, 26(4), 240-250.

Shipka, Jody. (2011). Toward a composition made whole. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pitttsburgh Press

Key Quotes:

“Students are writing more than ever with the diverse range of composing technologies and platforms that are widely available to them” (2).

“It’s important to pay attention to the entire spectrum of composing technologies, since they are all part of students’ composing landscape today” (2).

“the authors [of the PEW Internet Research study] found that teachers think that Internet-based writing and digital composing technologies help sutdents communicate in creative ways, encourage students to write for different kinds of audiences, and give students a chance to ‘write more often in more formats than may have been the case in prior generations'” (3).

“we believe that traditional composition and rhetoric pedagogies aren’t appropriate for teaching students how to invent, draft, arrange, revise and deliver texts today, with the wide range of composing and collaboration technologies available” (3).

“Since students are embracing these newer digital technologies, academia should consider how they could be integrated into school writing, how classroom instruction can better prepare students to write effectively with these technologies when they use them for self-sponsored genres, and whether any kind of transfer occurs when students use these composing technologies to write for academic and self-sponsored purposes” (10).

Further Questions:

  • This study felt a little dated to me, especially based on the categories that were listed for the survey. I wonder what the results would be in a study today with the use of instant messaging apps, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. Would students associate these programs with writing?
  • I wonder if there could be a question on collaboration. Where do student collaborate? What programs are used? Are programs intended for collaboration used more than those that are not?

“Pedagogy and Web Writing” Santos and Leahy

“Pedagogy and Web Writing”  by Marc C. Santos & Mark H. Leahy

Article Citation: Santos, Marc C., and Mark H. Leahy. “Postpedagogy and Web Writing.”Computers and Composition 32 (2014): 84-95. Web.

Abstract (From Source): “Collaborative digital tools, online communities, and the evolution of literacy create opportunities in which writing for an English class and writing for the “real” world no longer have to be two separate activities. Seizing such opportunities requires rethinking thedesire to teach writing—a move toward what has been termed postpedagogy. We align the interactive and collaborative affordancesof web writing with a postpedagogical model of learning focused on inventive practices grounded in kairotic interactions. We also detail our candid experiences working with students who are writing for real world audiences, as well as the productive risks and anxieties such an approach produces.”

Keywords (From Source): pedagogy, postpedagogy, web writing, blogging, invention, community

Further Reading:

Arroyo Sarah, J. (2005). Playing ot the tune of electracy: From post-process to a pedagogy otherwise. JAC, 25(4), 683-715

Cooper, Marilyn M. (2010). Being linked to the matrix: biology, technology, and writing. In Stuart A. Selber (Ed.), Rhetoric and technologies (pp. 15-32). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

Hawk, Byron. (2007). A counter-history of composition/toward methodologies of complexity. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Vitanza, Victor J. (2003). Abandoned to writing: notes twoard several provocations. Enculturation, 5(1).

Key Quotes:

“Rhetoric and composition has underestimated the extent to which technological innovation transforms writing, and still succumbs to the temptation to reduce writing to a set of simple rules and procedures” (84).

“Writing is an elusive, complex practice, not the stilted activity codified by so many textbooks” (85).

“Web writing for us means participating in a community of similarly motivated writers engaging in a variety of writing practices” (85).

-Their work is comprised of students joining a community they are interested in and engaging with a series of posts a week that amount to at least 1,000 words. the students engage with a real audience and real dialogue which then pushes the student to think about their communicative practices and engage in rhetoric in a real setting. This is lead by their push for a postpedagogical approach.

“Our approach to webwriting is based upon a postpedagogical emphasis on play and practice, employing a workshop model that exposes students to the range of choices writers make when responding to and engaging with audiences” (85).

“Postpedagogy advocated a critical and self-reflexive re-inhabiting of teacher authority and an insistence on kairoitic, emergent, ‘risky’ learning” (86).

“By placing writing in communities selected by our students, by generating assignments that call upon them to develop new theories of writing based ont heir own experiences, and by allowing them to contribute to the criteria by which they are evaluated, we provide students an opportunity to develop an institutionally practicable form of authority (aware of its limitations)” (86-7).

“Our goal is to expose our students to the plurality of potential writings, and to guide them to select those most relevant to them” (87).

“we are not attempting to remystify writing so much as to acknowledge that the easily-taught, easily-evaluated prescriptivist pedagogy of the last century, with its emphasis on the academic essay and little else, has failed in every imaginable way to account for the unpredictable and ingenious new forms of writing our students encounter and participate in every day” (87).

“Simply plopping student writing up on the web fails to account for the complex systems of reputation, recommendation, and discovery that characterize today’s Internet…we believe scholars need to extend discussions of accessibility beyond the availability of the technology itself” (89).

“In our experience, students are not always the mythic ‘digital natives’ we have been promised” (89).

-I think this is a really important point that needs to be discussed further. Just because a student is under 30 does not mean they know how to work all forms of technology.

Further Questions:

  • How would an instructor monitor the work of the students through their online community? Does all work, i.e. informal posts, replies, playful banter/conversation, all count toward the analyzed 1,000 words?
  • If the student chooses a blog that is not very active, do they receive the same value from the online community as someone that has hundreds of views/replies?
  • How much instruction is given to the students throughout the semester to evaluate the discourse community they are engaging with? Is rhetorical terms/knowledge provided to the students?


Haynes -“Armageddon Army: Playing God, God Mode Mods, and the Rhetorical Task of Ludology”

“Armageddon Army: Playing God, God Mode Mods, and the Rhetorical task of Ludology” – Cynthia Haynes

MLA Reference: Haynes, Cynthia. “Armageddon Army: Playing God, God Mode Mods, and the Rhetorical Task of Ludology.” Games and Culture 1.1 (2006): 89-96. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

Abstract (From Source): Scholars are witnessing a dramatic confluence of faith, politics, and gaming. On the stage of this war theater, the players are indistinguishable, the simulations just one mission removed from real war. One is immersed in war as game, the other in war as eternal battle. The military has invested millions in developing games as strategic communications tools, hiring real soldiers and officers as consultants to ensure optimal realism in game play. Now that the harmonic convergence of faith, politics, and computer games has been graphically (and brutally) realized, specifically, made real in the dueling holy wars—ours and theirs (jihad)—what now? This article proposes a game modification of the god mode of the game, America’s Army, as a critical response to the  reality of war and the use of computer games as military recruitment tools.

Keywords: rhetoric, ludology, gaming,  war, military, immersion, mods, war on terror, America’s Army

For further reading:

Eskelinen, M. “The Gaming Situation.” Game Studies, 1.1 (2001). Retrieved from: http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/eskelinen/

Frasca, G. “Ludology Meets Narratology: Similitudes and Differences Between (Video)Games and Narrative.” Ludology.org. Retrieved from: http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm


Quotes from Text

“To answer the question why game studies now, we must also engage in perceptions management” (91).

“Now that the harmonic convergence of faith, politics, and computer games has been graphically (and brutally) realized, namely, made real in the dueling holy wars – ours and theirs (jihad) – what now? What do academics DO with this now?”(91).

“The study of games in academic contexts…must be augmented by rhetorical criticism, and by that I mean reading games studies rhetorically as well as reading game studies ludologically. In so doing, we must keep in our mind’s eye the pockmarked, acned faces of those young people marching straight into the violent confluence of games, politics, and religion, with no god mode available in Iraq or anywhere else U.S. troops are deployed in the Global War on Terror” (91).

“In the game America’s Army, the non-American (insurgent, combatant, terrorist, whatever you want to call him or her) killed by Americans is (on the surface) the goal of the game. but it cannot account for the same effect when one of its own ranks is non-American and also killed by Americans. In other words, does not factor into the narrative options, or into the combat outcomes, the Third World subject who serves our country with his death: the scapegoat par excellence” (91-2).

“Arguably, the fine line between war games and real war is not structured semantically…it is, however, rendered ludologically. In other words, the line does not share a thematic kinship with the line between combat training and real combat; it does, however, share in the thin line between game play and morality play, which (I argue) is squarely in the purview of ludology; understanding the game as game, understanding the play as moral (or not), but always (in the end) understanding war as play” (92).

“Basic training is a serious game with war functioning rhetorically as the synecdoche of these collective genres of play: massive multiplayer game, role-playing game, first-person shooter, 3-D action/adventure, strategy game, SIM, and )most accurately) a god game.” (92).

Further Questions:

What are the soldiers’ perspectives of god mode and how that plays into their perceptions of basic and the warrior ethos?

What are the perceptions of soldiers in other cultures? Do they also think of this as ludic?