Research Questions

  • How are certain types of literacy sacrificed for other types? Is there a hierarchy of literacy?
  • How has assimilation into American Culture changed their literacy practices?
  • How has other forms of literacy helped express their identity.
  • What role does language play in forming identity?
  • Are the identities of 1.5 and 2nd Generation immigrant identities impacted the same by language and literacy?
  • How do the different generations of immigrants connect/ to their culture? Does this differ through the generations? 

When putting together research questions, our group was particularly interested in finding out the correlation between literacy and the identity of a Black Columbus immigrant. Through multiple readings and video discussions, in particular the TED Talk of Micheal Rain’s What it’s like to be a child of immigrants, our group wanted to focus on how literacy could change and grow when influenced by multiple cultures and countries. We also were interested in how nontraditional forms of literacy can affect one’s identity. As most of our interviewees grew up in the new millennium, this generation was exposed to television, film and music more than any other. Our group wanted to see how this exposure also influenced their literacy identity along with more traditional forms such as reading and writing.

After collecting research questions, our team began to address how to use the questions formed in order to interview our community partners. Our group referred to the the reading Oral History Techniques: How to Organize and Conduct Oral History Interviews by Barbara Truesdell which helped us expand our knowledge of interviewing. The article touched on ways to interview subjects in a clear and fair way, avoiding ways to “bait” them into answering certain questions and maximizing their time being interviewed. Truesdell’s article went into detail about asking open-ended questions rather than yes or no questions in order to “encourage the fullest response possible to each question”. When we began our interviews we took this understanding into our own work. During our interviews we strayed away from asking questions that would only leave a few responses by our community members. We also made sure to ask our interviewees to elaborate or further explain certain responses, again as a way to elicit a fuller response. Finally, Truesdell reflected on the importance of respecting the interviewee and their level of openness on certain topics. If it is clear that a interviewer does not want to go on, the interviewer must be able to read these signs and begin another question without putting their own priorities of getting a “good response” above their interviewee’s comfort. We encountered this a few times while interviewing when it was clear that one of our community partners did not feel comfortable with a certain topic, so instead of trying to force an answer out, we simply moved onto the next topic. Truesdell’s knowledge on the topic of interviews and how to properly conduct one was beneficial to our group when using our research questions in the field.

Our team also used the TED Talk by novelist and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled The Danger of a Single Story. Adichie speaks of the issues that arise when entering an interaction with preconceived notions about the person based on their demographic. Because of how easy it is to impose our own beliefs, given that those interviewed will fall in our demographic in terms of age and educational occupation, it is important for us to not make inferences based on what we think we know while interviewing and to remain neutral in terms of our understanding. Being intentional with how we formulated our research questions was very essential to the process, due to the necessity of obtaining solid responses to our questions.