This semester my COM 230: Listening class had the opportunity to participate in [True] Stories, a project focused on the importance of teaching oral history in the College classroom. We started the semester with readings (e.g., Wolvin, 2010; Rubin & Rubin, 2012) and discussions about the value of qualitative interviewing for learning, understanding, and sharing experiences. Students were asked to interview a professional from the community to learn more about the importance of listening in the field they are interested in joining after graduation.
In their first assignment, students submitted a brief reflection describing the person they planned to interview, draft of interview questions, and your rationale for asking those questions. Students learned about the ethics of qualitative research. I explained the role of the Institutional Review Board when conducting research and described the process that resulted in approval of the project from the IRB at Rollins College. We had each interviewee complete an informed consent form describing the purpose of the project before the interview.
After the students completed individual interviews with professionals in our community, students audio record responses to a set of prescribed questions and prepared a typed transcript of the most important segments of the interview. Then, in small groups, the students coded/analyzed the interviews for themes.
One of the biggest “aha” moments came after Leslie Poole, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, gave a talk on her experiences with oral history as a journalist. Students were able to compare their experiences doing oral history with a professional’s experiences which added to their learning.
Students also reflected on the role of listening in oral history and wrote a paper that included information drawn from what they had learned in class (through readings, lectures, and discussions) and their individual research to discuss how the scholarly research relates to or contradicts what the students learned from professionals through the interviews.
This was a full semester project. However, in the future, I plan to have the students complete the assignment in a shorter period of time. I believe that starting the project at the mid-point of the semester and including guest lectures earlier in the semester will help students better integrate the material learned in class with their project.
We are happy to invite you to another [True] Stories speaker event:
Oral History, Copyright, and Beyond: A Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Miller of Rollins College
Time: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 10:00am EST/ 9:00am CT
Rollins College’s Library Director, Dr. Jonathan Miller, will lead us in a conversation about copyright as well as other ethical and practical considerations involved with oral history work.
Dr. Miller earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 and wrote his dissertation on the role of librarians and libraries in the development of copyright law. His research and writing interests also include copyright history, open access publishing, and library management. In addition to his many publications, awards, and accomplishments, Dr. Miller is active in the Association of College & Research Libraries where he enjoys engaging in advocacy and government relations work. You can view Dr. Miller’s CV online here and a selection of his recent publications here.
Please join us and bring your questions! This event will also be recorded and an edited copy will be available afterwards on the [True] Stories website.
Please join us for tomorrow’s [True] Stories speaker event:
Listening in Interviews: A Journalist-Turned-Historian’s Perspective, with Dr. Leslie Poole of Rollins College
Time: Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2:00pm EST /1:00pm CT
Award-winning writer and historian, Dr. Leslie Poole, will lead a Rollins classroom talk for Dr. Anne Stone’s Listening Class, discussing the listening styles and interview strategies she cultivated as a journalist with deadlines, assignments, questionable sources, and a diverse readership base. She will also compare those approaches to methodologies used in traditional oral history work, a field she has become well versed in during her more recent years as a historian and professor at Rollins College.
Leslie’s talk will be followed by a classroom and chat room Q and A session, so join us and bring your questions! This event will also be recorded and an edited copy will be available afterwards on the [True] Stories website.
In a recording from just a few weeks back at the 27th Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Artsin Winter Park, Florida, Zora’s friends and relatives offer amazingly personal stories about the time they spent with the talented writer and folklorist who called Eatonville her home.
Sights, sounds, and smells play a critical part in their recollections as they recount what it was like to visit Hurston and her home. In one heartfelt comment, Mrs. Ella Johnson Dinkins (daughter of Hurston’s Eatonville friend, Addie G. Johnson), remembered Zora’s affection for her and the other children of Eatonville even after many years of notoriety and success – “Zora comforted us as children […] She came to us as a mother would, […] she would always cover us, [and] love us children, because that was just her way.”
Stay tuned for a special recording of “In Conversation: The Zora Neale Hurston I Remember”: An Interview with Mrs. Ella Johnson Dinkins (daughter of Hurston’s Eatonville friend, Addie G. Johnson), Dr. Clifford Hurston Jr. (Hurston’s Nephew), and Mrs.Vivian Hurston Bowden (Hurston’s Niece). The conversation, led by Dr. Ben Brotemarkle of the Florida Historical Society, enjoyed a a large and captive audience.