“A Giant Mix of Expectations, Languages, and Backgrounds” with A.J. Wildey

AJA.J. Wildey studied abroad in Cuzco, Peru where she conducted original field research on traditional farming beliefs and practices.  In her interview, she describes the importance of being an agent of her own learning needs in an academic culture which did not offer formal instruction in and feedback on writing.  At the same time, she offers insights on how the development of her language skills coincided with her ability to synthesize course readings and lived experience. Listen to her podcast. 

 Edited and produced by Lucile Duperron. 

9 thoughts on ““A Giant Mix of Expectations, Languages, and Backgrounds” with A.J. Wildey

  1. As a student who relies heavily on the feedback from my teachers to make revisions, it’s tough to imagine having to revise my papers without them! It’s really interesting that the professors abbreviated their comments for you and the other students. Here at Dickinson, all my classes ask for multiple drafts so I’ve never come across such a problem, and hope I never will.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. It was very interesting to learn that only two assignments were given before the large research paper. As you said, I too often rely on my previous writing assignments in a class to gage how I am doing. Not having a previous paper back before handing in the next one would challenge me to seek out more help from the professor.

  3. The emphasis on use of bibliography and utilization of sources is interesting, especially since a lot of writing that I have encountered at Dickinson is a lot more about personal interpretation and analysis, yet it makes a lot of sense in terms of really warranting the information that one presents in his/her essay. Perhaps this is a cultural difference as well. Thanks for your story!

  4. I agree with her that the first paper is really helpful in determining how you need to change your writing process to perform better on the second. Having the assignments so close together as she did definitely makes it harder to understand if you completed the assignment as the professor intended.
    I can understand how the bibliography is important. When I write science papers, it’s extremely necessary to show that what you’re writing is valid and that your analysis is indeed grounded in fact. However, twenty sources is a lot to ask of a student.
    Having to ask for your feedback on papers seems pretty intimidating… but at the same time, I see where that would be useful. Some students don’t care about the professor’s critique and so a student going out of their way to ask their opinion shows that the student is motivated and truly wants to improve their work.

  5. Having observation and synthesis as equally important motives for keeping the journals was a new concept to me. I had always regarded this kind of daily writing (even in an academic setting) to be reserved for personal experience and perhaps analysis. Even if it isn’t in a formal paper, I’m sure the synthesis component adds validity to any subject one is writing about.
    It’s always interesting to hear about others’ study abroad experiences; thanks for sharing!

  6. The fact that there were so few writing assignments surprised me. Also, because I depend on feedback or comments from my audience, I thought that it was not helpful for the professors to keep the first assignment until after later assignments were due. It was interesting that students in South America have to have more responsibility for their own education than here in the US. I would have struggled, if I were A.J., and had to incorporate so many sources in my writing because I depend on my own voice to guide my compositions. Also, like America, free writing or journaling is an important way to express opinions or thoughts more easily, so I thought that was a great similarity! Thanks!

  7. Fascinating to listen to how proactive this program demanded its students to be. Development and progress in their projects requried them to take action, and to seek help before it was offered. Also I was interested by how A.J. was held accountable for composing a reliable and well-founded argument…a minimum of twenty sources is no easy task.

  8. I find it interesting that the academic culture is so different from what it is here at Dickinson. The fact that there are only two papers before a large project and that there is such a stress on using the sources rather than analysing the sources and interpreting them strikes me as an interesting deviation from the way Dickinson stresses interpreting data rather than quoting it. Also, that’s a lot of sources! I’ve written a few papers with that many or more, but even on those it seemed like a lot of sources for what was a very long paper. Fantastic podcast!

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