Home-training as research methodology

from ENGL110: Telling Stories, a general section themed around storytelling, online, asynchronous, Nicolette Bragg  
Here are Nici's own words of description: "The following assignment sequence shows how Jacqueline Royster’s “When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own” can be used to re-frame for students the purpose and values of research. In my fall 2020 sections of E110, I ask students to think about stories as a form of knowledge. I then ask them to consider whether, as well as being able to tell our own stories, we need to be able to understand the stories of others. Doing so, I try to de-center individualistic forms of knowledge production, the feelings of isolation often generated by research, and the way we can often put our own argument above those of others. In short, my goal was to prioritize in the composition classroom the labor of listening, understanding, questioning, and being generous towards others. This goal motivated my approach to the research project. Before publishing the guidelines for the research project, I asked students to read Royster’s article and to ask themselves: “Why did I assign this article just before a research project?” and “How can we adjust our assignment rubric to ensure that our essays strive towards the “better practices” for which Royster calls”? After a discussion, my synthesis of this discussion, and another round of discussion, I added two criteria to the rubric: “Home Training” and “Voice.”


  • Research Project Prompt
  • Discussion Prompt
  • Rubric

Research Project Prompt


To complete this project, you need to compose a coherent and well-written essay, in which you argue something. To do this, you need to do the following;

  1. find the vague idea you have that you know want to write about but are not quite sure yet how to do it (this is your “subject area”)
  2. read what other, thoughtful people have said about this idea and make a list of the key concepts or words that come up (“exploratory research”)
  3. select the ideas that you find most interesting (your “research question”)
  4. do another round of research in which you find what people say specifically about this focus (“research”)
  5. Use your 6-8 age essay to make your argument.   
We will move through these stages together as a class. We will also do peer review, take part in workshops, learn how to do research, revisit “concision” and “coherence,” practice revision, and learn how to write introductions and conclusions. We will also write a proposal and put together an “annotated bibliography.”
We will also bear in mind Royster’s argument: For one, we will read carefully the arguments of other, practicing “home training” by responsibly conveying and citing their ideas, giving credit, and using them without damage. For another, we will write in our voice by making an argument that matters to us and that is, therefore, slightly risky, something we cannot know for sure that is right (this is why you need to argue)

Length: 6-8 pages

First Draft: 10 points

Final Draft: 250 points

Format: MLA

Bibliography Minimum Requirements: Six sources, at least three of which must be academic journal articles.

Prompt for an asynchronous CANVAS discussion:

Understanding Jacqueline Royster’s “When The First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own”

In this discussion, we attempt two things: we help each other understand Royster’s argument, and we think about how her argument prepares us for our own research by reminding us to consider our subject position and to think about empathy and responsibility in research. This discussion is important because Royster is trying to call attention to a problem within academic discourse. She is trying to change the way we argue and write for an important reason. We are going to try to learn from Royster.  

To take part in this discussion, you are going to need to read Royster’s article. (Hint: Give yourself many attempts. It’s hard and takes time. If you try to do it all at once, you will not make it all the way through) 

Please answer these two questions by Tuesday, Oct 6.

Respond to two posts by Thursday, Oct 8.

1) Which sentence/passage of Royster’s argument did you find most interesting/thought-provoking, or confusing. Quote the passage and explain why you liked it OR why you found it confusing.

2) Identify one thing that Royster helps us consider as we prepare to begin our own research projects. Identify it and explain what it means.

Research Project Rubric

 Out of 250

Introduction: 50

A         An excellent introduction provides the reader the information they need to follow and understand the argument of your essay.  It concludes with a strong thesis statement and has no grammatical errors. The sentences are concise and flow well.

B         A good introduction provides all the necessary information and demonstrates that the writer understands the global work of their essay. It has a decent shape and ends with a thesis statement. There are minor issues with flow and concision.

C         A fair introduction offers some information but is vague and generic. There is no clear shape and there is no thesis statement.

D         A poor introduction feels “last minute.” It has many spelling mistakes and no thesis statement. It makes no attempt to orient the reader and offers no background information or contextualization.

Argument and voice: 50

A         When I read this paper, I know immediately what it argues.  The author uses their own voice to argue for something that matters to them. Although others may disagree with them, they try to show why what they say is important and should be considered. To do so, they have drawn from the knowledge and work of others. They have taken care to make sure others understand and follow their argument.

B         The argument of this paper is almost clear. The author could have taken more time to clarify their purpose or to find better evidence or support. The author could have highlighted better their central goal or hope.

C         This paper does not quite yet make an argument. It states a fact or makes an observation, not yet pushing through to the risky space of argument.

D         This paper lacks an argument and is thus without focus.

“Home Training”: 50

A         This paper shows care when it uses the words or ideas of others. It not only cites others when it quotes, but it sums up the work of others accurately. It gives credit to others for their knowledge. Further, it strives to get as full an understanding of a topic as possible, thinking about what is accurate rather than what works best for their paper.

B         This paper earnestly attempts to treat the work of others with respect. For reasons of time or effort, it was not able to fully achieve this, but it shows signs of potential. I am confident that the intention was there.

C         The paper needs to put more care and effort into its treatment of the work of others.

D         There is little evidence that this paper gave much consideration to the accuracy of its claims or its rendering of the ideas of others. If you receive this grade, please reach out to your professor for further feedback.  

Coherence: 50

A         The essay has a consistently strong internal structure that organizes the story and purposefully moves the reader easily through the argument. Each paragraph deals with ONE idea or makes ONE argument.

B         The essay has a distinct structure and shape that moves the reader easily through a progression of logically-sequenced paragraphs.

C         The argument has a discernible structure but is not organized in a consistently effective manner, causing some confusion and difficulty in easily following or understanding the main points.

D         Organization and sequencing feel haphazard and ineffective, which leaves the reader confused and unable to follow the argument. If you receive this grade, please reach out to your professor for further feedback.  

Prose Style: 50

A         Excellent: sentences are concise, direct, and flow well. There are no spelling mistakes or typos.

B         Significant effort has been made to write clear and concise sentences. Paper has been thoroughly proofread.

C         Little attention has been paid to individual sentences. Paper has many errors and has not been proofread. Sentences are long and their meaning is unclear.

D         It seems that little to no attention has been paid to prose style or sentence structure. If you receive this grade, please reach out to your professor for further feedback.