Summary and Questions – The multigenre paper: Increasing interest, motivation, and functionality in research

This article explored the topic of high school research papers, more specifically the approach of a mutigenre paper as an alternative to the much criticized typical research paper.  After briefly covering some of the most common complaints about typical papers (student dread, unoriginal, breed apathy and unconcern, etc.),  Moulton mentions various approaches other teachers have taken such as Kraus’s mystery papers, Macrorie’s I-search paper, Jobe’s collaborative “we-search” project, Dellinger’s survey-based project, Coleman’s newspapers, Peacock’s letter-style reports, and the featured Multigenre project approach by Romano.  Moulton mentions the underlying common theme between all approaches, which is that of increased student interest and excitement.  This in itself makes these alternative approaches appealing to me as a future educator.  Moulton overviews the approach of a multigenre paper in this article and discusses her own classroom experiment with this type paper, which she assigns to her undergraduate class of Secondary English education majors.  The multigenre paper requires students to research a topic by using a variety of research tools and then write a series of pieces and present a number of artifacts which integrate what they learned from their research.  There are infinite ways to integrate artifacts it seems, and some of the many mentioned in the article are journal entries, poems, birth announcements, personal letters, etc.  The focus is on creatively and extensively researching and cohesively presenting a work that exemplifies the subject.  Something I found refreshing about the article was Moulton’s candor about her struggles to understand, objectively grade, and teach the multigenre method.  Seeing how an educator works her way through the process of trying something new is inspirational to me as a future educator.  We will all struggle at times when breaking new ground, but we have to forge ahead and make these changes for the betterment of our students.  Some of the particular difficulties Moulton specifically mentions are knowing specifically what a multigenre paper is and what it should look like when finished, how many/what types of genres should be included, how to grade such a product, and how to effectively cite references.  Throughout the process, Moulton collaborates with her students to define and refine the process into something they could all understand, a work that clearly proves student understanding of subject matter, and that could be graded in a fair way.  Eventually, they decide to require representation from eight different genres, a learning log, and detailed endnotes to address areas of concern.  In the end, both Mouton and her students felt that the multigenre approach was regarded very favorably and there were many positive aspects:  The students were very interested and excited with this approach , the presentation of content and material was very interesting, the depth of endnotes proved that extensive research was done, the use of non-typical genres bred creativity and aligned with current theory that it is important to write for different audiences (and thus use appropriate genres for them), the process proved more reflective for students than the traditional research paper, it allowed students to gain technological experience, and it very effectively blended creativity with research.  In summary, letting students explore a topic through a creative research process incorporated practical skills but also engaged students to a far greater extent. This culminated in a work the student was more emotionally invested in and that the teacher could appreciate to a greater extent than the traditional research paper.

Questions:

1.  Since this article was written in 1999, have further efforts been made to clearly define what a multigenre paper should look like?

2.  Have guidelines been established since the writing of this article to assist teachers in assessing multigenre papers?

3.   Have studies been done to show how the multigenre paper could be used in an EC setting?

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