Once again, I wanted to recognize one of my wonderful undergraduate students. Samantha Lizzio has won Quinnipiac University’s “Writing Across the Curriculum” award for her research project in my Theories of Interactive Media course.
For the final, she constructed a research blog containing reflections and ruminations on the ways in which music fandom and the music industry are evolving in response to the Internet. Each post was well researched, documenting various music trends through reference to peer reviewed sources and items in the trade press, as well as using these to bolster her own arguments and provide additional depth to her personal reflections.
Moreover, I thought Samantha not only chose her format wisely, but did a terrific job at using that format to her advantage. The changing face of music is, of course, an incredibly expansive topic that would be difficult to treat exhaustively in the span of a single class paper. By using the blog format, Samantha was able to break off pieces of this expansive subject and treat them individually as distinct observational posts. The blog format is also open ended in the sense that the author can ostensibly continue to add to it in the future, treating additional aspects of her topic of choice. (And, indeed, Samantha has informed me that she enjoyed the topic enough that she plans to transform the site into a personal blog and continue adding to it in the future.)
In the context of the class project, this allowed Samantha to write some well-informed posts based on her research, without taking on responsibility for exhaustively reviewing an area of media research that could otherwise have easily filled a dissertation. I thought it was an elegant solution to a problem frequently faced by undergraduates, who often ask really big and intriguing questions, but have difficulty breaking off manageable pieces of them that can be treated in a single term paper.
[Image Credit: Quill cc-by-nc Hullernuc]