Community-Based Inquiry: Dis/Connecting within Communities

For our first project, we conducted a narrative-based inquiry where we dove into experiences to respond to an inquiry. Project Two entails a community-based inquiry, which means going into a digital community to respond to an inquiry. We will inquire and research on how a group or community uses language (written, verbal, video, photo, etc.) to create and maintain a group culture. For Project Two, you will use community discourse analysis to compose 900-1000 word essay that describes how a specific group uses language to dis/connect and how those means of dis/connection reflect and reinforce the group’s shared culture.

Community-Based Inquiry

Community-based inquiry seeks to understand how and why groups form. Two inquiry methods that focus on group culture are ethnography and community discourse analysis. While ethnography, an inquiry method drawn from anthropology, involves immersing oneself in a community and using observation, interviews, and artifact analysis to understand a group’s culture or way of life, community discourse analysis involves studying a group’s communication in order to understand how the language they use creates and reinforces group “norms.” These communication norms are one means of connection within a group.

The Assignment

Narrative inquiry is a method of studying lived experience that begins with a question about some aspect of our lives that we want to understand better. The process of systematically recollecting and reflecting on our past experience allows us to turn our memories and experiences into evidence—research data—that we can analyze and draw conclusions from, ultimately leading to new insights.

What's the Assignment?

Given the need for social distancing in Spring 2021, your community-based inquiry will focus on discourse analysis. You’ll begin by identifying a group or community with a substantial online presence that will allow you to observe and collect at least a week’s worth of communication within the group. (If you can access archives of group conversations, even better.) The group may be one you’re a member of or simply interested in, but you must access the group ethically (no assuming a false identity or false pretense for joining.) As with text-based inquiry, you’ll do preliminary research to learn about your group and to help you develop a focused research question. You’ll then collect and analyze multiple examples of the community’s language use, which can include words, emojis, images, sound, and other means of communication, paying close attention to recurring patterns or “norms” of dis/connection within the group.

Your final essay will make a claim about how the group uses language to dis/connect, using evidence from your discourse analysis to illustrate group “norms” and to draw conclusions about how those “norms” create and reflect group culture.

Assignment Objectives:
  • Explore what you already know about a group, conduct secondary research about them, and come up with an informed research question.
  • Conduct primary research by collecting and analyzing data.
  • Devise a central claim about connection in this group by identifying patterns.
  • Write an essay depicting how this group uses language to connect and create group culture.
Course Learning Outcomes:
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to write in a range of genres, using appropriate rhetorical conventions.
  • Students will demonstrate competency in reading, quoting and citing sources, as well as competency in balancing their own voices with secondary sources.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to employ flexible strategies for generating and revising their writing.

Due Dates for Project/Portfolio
  • Invention Activity: 03/03 at 1:00 pm CT
  • Research Plan: 03/05 at 4:00 pm CT
  • Outline: 03/15 at 3:20 pm CT
  • First draft with cover memo: 03/24 at 1:00 pm CT
  • Revised draft: 03/26 at 4:00 pm CT
  • Portfolio with final draft and cover memo: 04/02 at 4:00 pm CT

Criteria Incomplete/Not Submitted Emerging Developing Meets Expectations Distinguished
Cover Memo:

The cover memo (about 200 words) explains what you learned in this unit and what contributed to your learning. Be sure to discuss what you learned about community-based inquiry, about writing, and about dis/connecting in a community. List the two people whose essays you responded to in writing.


There is a clear controlling idea about the dis/connection found in the chosen digital community. The controlling idea goes beyond the obvious, demonstrating insight that results from inquiry.


The controlling idea is supported by evidence/data, a specific quote, image, or concrete examples found in the discourse community. This evidence/data should clearly support the central idea.


The essay is organized to draw the audience in, maintain interest, and offer a resolution or insight.


There is effective use of presenting data and its analysis. The writer depicts data from the community at hand and fluidly integrates analysis.

Editing and Proofreading

Sentences are complete and concise. Obvious errors have been eliminated.

Drafting and Revision

Complete drafts, with author’s notes, are submitted on time. Revision demonstrates attention to peer and teacher feedback.

Process Work

Active participation in activities during class