When students contextualize, they are situating ideas, arguments, or practices in a larger context (e.g., a historical context, a critical context, a cultural context) in order to call their audience’s attention to that context. Contextualizing goes beyond summarizing the relevant information about an author or idea; when students contextualize, they use research in order to construct or bring into view a picture of the broad-scale situation, circumstance(s), or relationships that surround an issue, text, genre, or mode (as opposed to tracing a particular conversation within an issue, as in engaging a conversation).
Contextualizing Learning Objectives
- Determine the relevant context for a project (e.g., historical, cultural, philosophical, ideological, research contexts)
- Recognize how contexts shape meaning, use, and distribution of texts.
- Situate a project, issue, or event within the relevant context
- Establish the relationship between the context and the project
- Explore the ways social activity shapes genres
- Represent the context accurately and ethically using collected and curated research
- Make use of diverse sources
- Assess how disciplinary conventions affect composition practices
- Make connections between your context and your values
Information Literacy Threshold Concepts
- Authority is constructed and contextual
- Information has value
Habits of Mind
|Assignment||Writing Goals||Contextualizing work|
|Annotated Bibliography||Situate ideas into a historical context - develop a critical vocabulary||Explore what each source shows us about the larger context surrounding a particular issue|
|Process note||Understand social activity that shapes genres||Reflect on the choices the student made and challenges encountered while working on a project|
|Genre analysis||Understand social activity that shapes genres||Investigate the history and cultural context of a kind of text (e.g., the political cartoon)|
|Short documentary||Situate ideas into a historical context - deploy different types of evidence rhetorically||Present an issue at length from multiple perspectives|
|Infographic||Deploy different types of evidence rhetorically - situate ideas||Remix gathered data on a particular issue into a visual form|
Devitt, Amy. “Teaching Critical Genre Awareness.” Genre in a Changing World, edited by Charles Bazerman, et al., The WAC Clearinghouse, 2009, pp. 337-351.
Beaufort, Anne. “Operationalizing the Concept of Discourse Community: A Case Study of One Institutional Site of Composing.” Research in the Teaching of English, vol. 31, no. 4, 1997, pp. 486–529.