Chapter 4: Pathways to Future Transfer
One site for future transfer several students mentioned was the potential for knowledge and skills learned within the video project to transfer to written essays they would compose in the future, whether in the current first-year writing course or in another course. Student participants Lauren and Marlee were confident that they would transfer various techniques from the video composition experience to future essays and papers—and Marlee had done so already for a paper in a women's studies course. Through their consideration of the techniques they learned and how these might apply in videos and in papers, both Lauren and Marlee demonstrate a meta-awareness of intercomparativity, (VanKooten "Identifying"), wherein they explore the similarities and differences among media platforms.
Juxtaposition and "Shifts": Spotlight on Lauren
The following video presents a snapshot of Lauren’s learning through video with a focus on her classroom interactions with other students, her written reflection essay about the video project, and her responses to interview questions. She discusses learning about two compositional techniques in particular: juxtaposition and using "shifts."
Lauren discusses the development of her meta-awareness of techniques and intercomparativity as she composed her video.
|[No audio]||White text appears on a black screen, reading "Building awareness of Composition through Video, Case 1: Lauren".|
|Crystal: This is Lauren. Lauren composed "Saving the Arts" in her first-year writing course, a video argument meant to persuade non-artists that arts classes in schools are valuable and should continue to be funded.||Lauren is shown in a computer lab-style classroom among peers and instructors. An arrow indicates which student is Lauren. She is focusing and working on her desktop computer.|
|[Clip from "Saving the Arts"] Thomas: Arts almost make you a better person. The arts teach life.||Across the top of the screen, text reads "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'". The clip shows a man sitting in a living room chair next to a lamp. Beside him is a trombone. He gestures to it as he talks. In the bottom left corner, text reads "Thomas Haney: Trombonist, Jazz Studies Major".|
|[Piano sonata music plays.]||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains on the top of the screen. The clip cuts to a black screen with a blue banner running across the middle of it. The banner reads "Many public schools cut performing and fine arts programs due to costs." Then the clip cuts to another black screen, reading "Despite the fact that many disciplines of the arts require hours of practice to get to a higher skill level."|
|Thomas: I try to practice every day for at least thirty minutes if not an hour.||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains on the top of the screen. The clip of Thomas sitting next to his trombone returns to the screen.|
|Diana: I practice at least two hours a day.||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains on the top of the screen. The clip cuts to a still image of two gymnasts performing on stage. Then, a clip of a woman sitting on a couch appears on the screen. On the bottom left corner, text reads "Diana Pompey: Flutist, Biopsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience major". The clip then cuts to a black screen with a blue banner reading "Despite the discipline learned...".|
|Crystal: Lauren reveals evidence of developing meta-awareness about composition through the process of composing "Saving the Arts." Here, we'll look and listen for her learning in several places: in Lauren's interactions during class, in her written reflection essay, and in her answers to questions during one-on-one interviews.||A clip of Lauren's classroom is shown. She is standing among her peers and writing notes down on a piece of paper as she discusses her video with other students. On the bottom left corner of the screen, text reads "Class interactions, Reflection essay, One-on-one interviews".|
|Crystal: First, a brief look at a few classroom moments illustrates how class lessons encouraged Lauren to think about composing techniques such as juxtaposition and contrast. Here, Lauren discusses a reading on juxtaposition with a classmate.|
Lauren: That one talked about the juxtaposition thing. And pretty much what I thought it was saying was you're going to put two things in a proximity to each other, and they're used to compare or contrast in a sense. And it lets people perceive them and understand a new meaning for themselves.
Crystal: Here, Lauren verbalized her initial understanding of juxtaposition, a technique she later uses in her own video.
|Lauren is shown in her classroom working with a classmate. They are sitting at a computer together and writing notes on a piece of paper as they talk about the assignment on the screen. On the bottom of the screen in white text is a transcript of what Lauren is saying, reading "That one talked about the juxtaposition thing. And pretty much what I thought it was saying was you're going to put two things in a proximity to each other, and they're used to compare or contrast in a sense. And it lets people perceive them and understand a new meaning for themselves."|
|Crystal: Nine days later, Lauren again talks about juxtaposition when giving feedback to another classmate on her video draft.|
Lauren: I know it isn't anything, but I think you used, not juxta — maybe it is, but I liked when you were showing the one side of the city, you used really positive imagery, like you got the kids playing with little Grinch, and all that stuff. I liked the camera moving and then you'd have a picture, and then the camera and a picture, it seemed to go like that, and then you'd have some more video tape. I liked that. Even sometimes the camera would go this way, and then when you'd have a new thing, it'd go the opposite way.
Classmate: You liked that?
Lauren: Yeah, I liked the movement.
Crystal: In this case, Lauren reveals her developing understanding of how multiple pieces and effects in video work to forward a message. She comments on her classmate's use of positive imagery, the variety of the images, and strategic camera movements to organize and differentiate parts of the video. This workshop allows Lauren to see various compositional techniques in action and to comment on their effectiveness. After this workshop and after she completed her own video, Lauren reveals evidence in an interview of developing an even deeper understanding of compositional techniques. Specifically, she talks about the technique of strategically using a "shift" in her video.
|Lauren is shown in her classroom again with a different classmate. They are sitting in front of a computer, laughing as they talk about what they see on the screen. When the audio cuts to them speaking in class, a transcript of what they are saying appears on the bottom of the screen.|
|Lauren: But I made a shift in my video, and I was really proud of that moment. Because I feel like it goes from having, oh, this is the more, I don't want to say academic, but logic way of looking at why the arts are good. Yeah, they make you creative, they give you discipline.||Lauren is shown sitting at a table in an office, talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
|[Within the clip from "Saving the Arts," piano sonata music plays while interviewees speak.]||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" is shown across the top of the screen. A black screen with a blue banner running across the middle is shown, reading "Despite the discipline learned...".|
|Diana: Especially marching band, where everything is discipline.||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains across the top of the screen. Diana is shown again sitting on the couch, talking to the camera. A still image of a band marching through a street is shown.|
|[Piano sonata music continues to play while interviewees speak.]|
Thomas: I think that music has, especially marching band, has made me more disciplined.
Lauren [speaking overlaid with "Saving the Arts"]: I went from there and I shifted it towards, instead of having logos, I switched it to pathos and had an emotional, the arts, I don't know where I'd be without music, or I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't paint and have my creative outlet exposed or whatever. And just having that shift and then, having it go from like, oh, upbeat music, kind of like, doo-wah-yeah, sonata, whatever, from the logical parts and then have it be silent while they're just talking. It's a minor change, but for me, I'm like, oh yeah, that makes sense. I really like my shift. That was the best part of my video [laughs].
|The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains across the top of the screen. Thomas is shown again sitting in his chair next to his trombone. The clip of Thomas remains on the screen as a smaller frame in the corner shows Lauren sitting in the office and talking to Crystal. The video continues as Lauren speaks.|
|[Clip from "Saving the Arts"] Thomas: I have to make it live, I have to make it breathe, I have to make it something that's real.||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains across the top of the screen. The smaller frame of Lauren disappears from the screen, and the clip from her video returns to Thomas's interview.|
|[The piano sonata music fades away, and the interviewees continue to talk with no background music.]|
Thomas: I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have music. I don't know what I'd be doing if I didn't have music.
|The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains across the top of the screen. The clip cuts to a black screen, reading "Despite the lasting impact it has on students..." The clip then cuts back to Thomas.|
|Diana: Fight harder for what you want. And I feel like, because of band, I have that characteristic. Wanting something and then doing whatever I can to get that.||The label "From Lauren's video 'Saving the Arts'" remains across the top of the screen. The clip cuts to Diana on the couch.|
|[Piano sonata music plays.]|
Crystal: In Lauren's reflection essay, she uses some of the meta-language she learned in class such as contrast and juxtaposition to describe her composing choices. Through her reflection essay, Lauren reveals a purposeful use of the composing techniques that she learned about in class lessons. And Lauren also mentions that writing the reflection essay helped her to think about how the video was connected to writing.
|Across the top of the screen, text reads "In order to use juxtaposition, Lauren created contrast [...]". A black screen appears which is quickly interrupted by an animated three-hole-punched paper floating to the bottom of the screen, reading "from Lauren's video reflection essay". White text appears, reading "The first three examples are filled with logical reasons why and there is soft music that lines the background. Next, I used the rhetoric of music by having my music fade away as I approached the pathos part of my video."|
|Lauren: It helped me tie in — because I wasn't really thinking how the video and writing were connected in a way. I was like, oh yeah, this was such a cool project! I think it was nice because it showed that writing isn't so much different than anything else we do.||Lauren is shown again in the office, sitting at the table and talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
|Crystal: It's clear that we can see and hear evidence that Lauren was developing an awareness of specific compositional techniques in several places. First, she learned the names of techniques such as contrast, juxtaposition, and musical rhetoric, and began to explore and use these terminologies in class discussions with her peers.||Lauren is shown in her classroom again, working on her desktop computer and participating in class.|
|Crystal: Next, she employed the technique of creating contrast, or using a "shift," in her own video. Then Lauren wrote about how and why she used contrast in her reflection essay.||An over-the-shoulder view of Lauren and her classmates is shown as they work on their video projects in the classroom.|
|Crystal: The interview questions, however, pushed Lauren to make and articulate more connections between how and why she used a technique in her video and how knowledge of that technique might add to her awareness of composition overall and become useful in the future.|
Crystal in video: So are there any concepts or terms or practices from the video unit that you think will stick with you over time as you leave this class?
Lauren: I found a new appreciation for shifts, I think. Mostly because, I think I said it before, but my favorite part, I swear, is the part where there's music and it fades away. I like the seriousness of the moment, and I think I found a new appreciation for a shift in a paper. Because they're big, but people just don't realize, I think. Or I don't realize, I would think [laughs].
Crystal: Can you think of a specific time when you might apply some of that stuff in the future?
Lauren: With writing, for any upper-level writing courses I take, that'll be helpful to just think back to, ok, I need to have a shift in the paper, or where are my ideas going with this? What do I need?
|Lauren is shown again in the office, sitting at the table and talking to Crystal, who is off screen. As Crystal asks Lauren a question in the video, a caption of the question appears on the screen. As Lauren answers, text appears next to her on the left of the screen, reading "I found a new appreciation for a shift in a paper..." When answering the next question, text appears next to her on the left of the screen, reading "I need to have a shift.... Where are my ideas going? What do I need?"|
|Crystal: How would you describe yourself as a writer now after the course is over?|
Lauren: Usually when I write I just — I feel like I just kind of write, but now I'm aware, oh, certain techniques work better — different ways to start your paper, different ways to transition through your paper. Having choices is important because not all types of writing are the same. I'm not going to write the same kind of essay for a research paper as I would maybe a reflection essay or a journal entry. Just learning different types and different techniques and choices to have is really helpful I feel. There's just so much more I think about when I write. It isn't just, oh, I got to write this thing. It's, oh, I got to write this thing, but these are the things I have to think about, like audience and tone, and I don't know — those kinds of things. I feel more conscious while I'm writing, if that makes sense [laughs].
|Lauren is shown in the same office at the same table, but dressed differently than before. In the top left corner of the screen, text reads "One month after the course." As Crystal, who is off screen, asks questions, the caption of her question appears on the bottom of the screen. As she answers, text appears next to Lauren, reading "Now I'm aware..." and later "Not all types of writing are the same." Later, text reads "There is so much more I think about when I write..." and then "I feel more conscious while I'm writing."|
|Crystal: The data here makes clear that Lauren became more aware about composition through video. She learned about juxtaposition and contrast, developed her understanding of these concepts in class and in workshop, used those techniques in her own video, and then connected the techniques to her future work, which may or may not be video. Lauren makes these connections because she is engaged with her work and her imagined audience. She learns new techniques and terminologies through class lessons, and she is asked to reflect orally and in writing about how what she has learned will be useful in the future. Lauren composed "Saving the Arts" on video, but because of instruction and reflection, her learning moves beyond just video.||An over-the-shoulder view of Lauren and her classmates is shown as they work on their video projects in their classroom. The camera angle then shifts to show a front view of Lauren and her classmates together.|
|Lauren: I think we should do the video first, and then look at essays. Because you find a new appreciation for essays through the video. You see how techniques are used visually, and you hear them, and it helps out, especially when you don't see them in writing so much. And when you see, oh, I'm using shifts, and oh, I need to be aware of what I'm saying, I think that will transfer into your essays much easier.||Lauren is shown again in the office, sitting at the table and talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
|[Piano sonata music plays once again.]||White text appears on a black screen, reading, "Video by Crystal VanKooten". Those words fade away are are replaced by "With special thanks to Lauren Maluchnik" and then replaced by "And to Instructor Kelly Allen and the members of her English 125 class".|
I’ve written extensively about Lauren’s learning elsewhere (VanKooten “The Video Was What Did It”), about how she composed and revised while building knowledge of her own cognition and regulating that cognition through reflection and discussion in interviews. In the above video, we see and hear evidence of the development of this meta-awareness about compositional techniques and about intercomparativity, and we also see and hear the actual skills and techniques Lauren used in her video composition on display (the aural shift from music to silence, for example, or the use of juxtaposition with images, written words, and self-shot interview footage). Additionally, we see and hear Lauren reflect on where and how these techniques might be useful in future work, in videos and written papers.
It’s clear that Lauren exited her first-year course with new awareness: about “shifts” and other compositional techniques, about audiences for her work, about videos and essays, and about herself as a writer who could make conscious choices and reflect on them. The most obvious site to which she could envision applying and adapting this awareness was future papers to be written for an upper-level writing course and beyond. While Jason Palmeri and Ben McCorkle, along with Jonathan Alexander and Jackie Rhodes, remind us that supporting alphabetic literacies should not be the only goal of our digital pedagogies, Lauren’s experiences demonstrate that one benefit of this kind of video work is the acquisition of skills and knowledge that are portable to essays as well as to other forms and media of composition. In fact, Lauren suggests that transfer across media be more directly built into first-year courses like hers, pointing out that the video project might be better positioned to support writerly learning if it came first, before composition of other papers and projects.
Completion: Spotlight on Marlee
When asked what concepts or terms from the video assignment might stick with her over time, Marlee talked about completion. In class, completion was defined as a sequential compositional technique an author might use across modes to express an idea in several parts. For example, an idea might begin by being expressed through one mode—say, a written sentence—and be completed in the same mode or another one later in the composition. Listen and look as Marlee discusses her use of completion in the video project and in a written paper.
Marlee discusses the development of her meta-awareness of techniques and intercomparativity as she composed her video.
|[No audio]||White text appears on a black screen, reading "Pathways to Future Transfer: Spotlight on Marlee".|
|Marlee: I didn't think that I would use completion in my video, but I used it a couple times, and it was really helpful, I think, in conveying the message. And it gave me a chance to do something fun. Like I remember one part I used, I was doing a voiceover about the prices for Camp Davis,||Marlee is shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall, talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
|Marlee: and I said, ""Can you put a price, dot dot dot, on this much fun?"" And there were two pictures of a kid picking a buffalo's nose, and then another kid stuffing Oreos in his mouth.|
Marlee's voice over: Course enrollment costs range from five hundred twenty-five dollars to nine hundred and twenty-five dollars. Courses run from twenty days to one month. But once you arrive at Camp Davis, you'll never want to leave. What will make you stay?
|A clip from Marlee's video is shown. In the top left corner of the screen, text reads "Marlee's video." Marlee is shown in a still image in front of the geyser Old Faithful. She is leaning up against a sign indicating where she is. The clip then cuts to a second still image of her and a boy with their arms around each other in front of the geyser. Next, a still image of a clear and relfective lake up against a grassy plain with scattered trees is shown. The video then transitions to the image of the boy picking a taxidermied buffalo's nose with the words "Can you put a price...". The next image is of another boy with many oreos stuffed in his mouth with the words "on this much fun?" The final image is of a group of kids playing volleyball in front of a mountainside with text across the screen, reading "What will make you come? What will make you stay?"|
|Marlee: It was a fun outlet, and I don't think I would have done it without going over those devices in class.|
Crystal: Do you think there's any concepts or terms from the video unit that will stick with you over time?
Marlee: Probably the idea of completion. I was thinking about how I might use that in a paper. Actually, I was writing my Women's Studies final and I was trying to think of an interesting way to conclude my paper. And I was like, okay, are, is there anything I can put into the beginning that I can tie in at the end? For the video, you say something and you have an ellipsis and you, like, finish it off in another picture.
|Marlee is again shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall, talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
|Marlee: But I wanted to do something where you, sort of, I don't know if it's necessarily like you start a metaphor, but you sort of start an idea in the, in the beginning. And you have your overarching idea throughout the paper, but you finish, you really finish that smaller idea at the end. But I started thinking about that while I was working on my final.||Another clip from Marlee's video is shown. In the top left corner of the screen, text reads "Marlee's video". On the screen, a still image of a buffalo running onto a trafficky highway is shown, with text across the screen reading "You never know what you'll see..." The next image is of a rainbow in the mountains. The third image is of a small group of teenagers standing in a crowd in front of Mount Rushmore, mimicking the presidents' facial expressions. Next is an image of a moose in a bush. Next is an image of some teens hiking in the mountains, with text appearing on the screen, reading "What you do will be the difference." This is then followed by a group picture of about 20 teenagers standing in front of a valley.|
|Marlee: I was like, ok, is there anything I could do? 'Cause I feel like that would make it more interesting. Sort of like it breaks up the video, it would sort of break up this big chunk of like argumentive, or analysis in your paper.||Marlee is again shown sitting at a table in front of a blue wall, talking to Crystal, who is off screen.|
Through these articulations during the interview and actions as she composes, Marlee reveals meta-awareness of techniques and of intercomparativity—meta-awareness that leads to an act of transfer across media from video to written essay, according to Marlee's narrative. Marlee learned about completion in class, considered how it might function, practiced using it in her video composition, considered the technique further as she worked on drafting her final paper for women's studies, and then used and adapted the technique there.
Marlee also considers how completion might work both in a similar manner and differently in a video and in a written paper, thinking across media and drawing out similarities and differences between how she might act as an author in either space. This kind of articulated meta-awareness of intercomparativity opens a wide pathway for future transfer across media as student authors like Marlee explicitly consider how and why they might use and shift their knowledge in different digital contexts.
Lauren's and Marlee's experiences, along with those of the other students featured in this chapter, indicate that pathways to future transfer opened most noticeably as students considered their compositional knowledge and developed different kinds of meta-awareness about composition: of the writerly self, process, techniques, and intercomparativity. I flesh out some implications for instruction within these pathways in the next chapter, discussing how instructors of writing might ask students to explicitly consider different kinds of knowledge and meta-awareness as they compose texts in courses like first-year writing.