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Illegal Literacy and Informal Learning: An Exploration into the development of Graffiti skills

A prezi poster for EDUC 681
by

Ken Weiderman

on 13 May 2011

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Transcript of Illegal Literacy and Informal Learning: An Exploration into the development of Graffiti skills

Illegal Literacy and Informal Learning: An exploration in to the development of graffiti skills Survey Instrument Page 2: Click Here Page 3: Click Here Page 4: Click Here Page 5: Click Here Methods I identified 3-5 graffiti discussion boards that fit the following criteria: a) posts are made daily, b) posts are made by many individual participants on the board, and c) the content of the posts are focused entirely on graffiti issues and topics.

Websites Used: 12ozprophets.com and puregraffiti.com. Additionally, the survey was reposted by a respondent to utahether.com.

I generated a new topic for discussion, and the first post in that discussion included a link to a survey using SurveyGizmo.com. Additionally, I posted the link to the survey in other discussion threads that had shown activity within 5 days of my posting.

Two days after posting the initial link, I re-posted it and asked for more respondents to take part in the survey. This process was repeated on day 5 and day 7, with the survey closing on day 10.

The survey was also emailed to friends and acquaintances, and I encouraged them to pass it on to others who may be interested. Limits to Generalizability Using a convenience sample such as this allows me to generalize the results to respondents only. Since respondents were self-selected and volunteers, the results of the survey and my conclusions can not be applied to graffiti writers at large. However, it can allow a researcher to get a better idea of trends and perspectives in graffiti culture. By Ken Weiderman
Humboldt State University
School of Education Survey Variables INFLUENCES: 8 questions asked about experiences that may have influenced someone to begin writing graffiti

MOTIVATION: 10 questions sought information about what causes a graffiti writer to keep writing once they begin

LEARNING STRATEGIES: 5 questions were included to try and identify pathways writers took to gain proficiency in graffiti writing What are the factors that contribute to an individual’s proficiency in the marginalized literacy practice of graffiti?
Where and how did graffiti writers discover graffiti, and why did this discovery lead to a desire to begin writing?
Where do graffiti writers get their motivation to keep writing despite the legal and societal pressures seeking to limit graffiti writing?
What learning strategies did proficient graffiti writers utilize as they sought to increase their skills in writing graffiti? Research Questions Introduction "Illegal Literacy" is a pilot study designed to inform a Master's Thesis research project on Graffiti as a Marginalized Literacy Practice. I am interested in finding out how graffiti writers become proficient at graffiti in the absence of formal training.

My pilot study is a survey that seeks to quantify the major sources of influence and motivation for writers. The survey also attempts to identify some learning strategies that writers used to become proficient at graffiti.

Most of the research on graffiti focuses on the cultural aspects of the genre, not the literacy of graffiti. (Moje, 2008). With this pilot study and my Master's Thesis, I hope to fill this significant gap in the literature. Abstract This research project will utilize an internet-based survey instrument to measure the graffiti learning of participants in various internet discussion sites focused on graffiti. Participants will be self-selected based on a posting made to several discussion boards with a link to an online survey. Geographical Location
of Survey Respondents Results Conclusion Literature Review My first two research questions were asking about the primary influences to begin writing graffiti, and the motivations that keep writers actively involved. My hypothesis - that writer's primary influence would be seeing other graffiti on the street, and that they would be motivated by having other writers see their own graffiti around town - was confirmed. "Seeing writing on the street" had the highest mean for influence variables, at 4.16, with the second highest being "Wanting Fame/Recognition," at 2.98. For the motivation variables, "Seeing my pieces around town" was clearly the highest mean at 4.29, with the second highest being "Knowing other writers will see my work" coming in at 3.69.

Drawing upon the results of my influence and motivation questions, I put together some meta-variables to describe what was happening with the data. I came up with three groups: It's All About Me, Exhibitionists, and Be A Part of the Group. To verify interal validity of the survey, I looked for data that confirmed clear differneces between group members and non-members There was a relationship between Be A Part of the Group and the amount of feedback members of the group sought. A one-way Anova demonstrated that non-members were significantly less likely to seek out feedback than members of the group. Anovas also showed that members of the It's All About Me group were more likely to want fame/recognition, and that the Exhibitionists wanted others to see their pieces more than non-Exhibitionists.

To compare the three meta-variables, I gathered together one more group of variables into an "Outlaw" category. Members of the outlaw group were defined as rejecting authority and liking graffiti because of its illegality and need for secrecy. When comparing the outlaw group to the non-outlaw group using my three meta-variables, those identified as outlaws were significantly more likely to have higher scores in all three categories.

Finally, across the entire survey an interesting dichotomy emerged. Graffiti writers showed a surprising need to have personal control and be exhibitionists, yet these overlap significantly with the need to be in a group and be recognized by others. click! click! click! click! click! click! click! click! Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2000). Literacy practices. In D. Barton, M. Hamilton, & R. Ivanič (Eds.), Situated literacies: Reading and writing in context (pp. 7-15). London: Routledge.

Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2005). Literacy, reification, and the dynamics of social interaction. In D. Barton & K. Tusting (Eds.), Beyond communities of practice: language, power and social context (pp. 14-35). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Barton, D., Hamilton, M., & Ivanic, R. (Eds.). (2000). Situated literacies: Reading and writing in context. London: Routledge.

Gee, J. P. (2008). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. Oxon, U.K.: Routledge.

Kress, G. R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. Oxon, U.K.: Routledge. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning. Columbus, OH: Open University Press.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Moje, E. B. (2000). `To be part of the story’: The literacy practices of gangsta adolescents. Teachers College Record, 102(3), 651-691. doi:http://www.tcrecord.org/

Rahn, J. (2002). Painting without permission: hip-hop graffiti subculture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. References These findings clearly indicate that the primary influence graffiti writers had for beginning to write was the graffiti made by others. Encountering graffiti on the street, they wanted to create their own. The findings also show that graffiti writers want others to see the works they create. Indeed, the top two identified motivations to continue writing graffiti once they had started were seeing their own pieces and knowing others would see their work. "Wanting fame and recognition" was the second most popular influence, and confirms that graffiti writers are consistently seeking to be seen by other writers, as well as the public at large. Using Rahn's finding as a backdrop, it makes sense that the "outlaw" category correlated strongly across both the "it's all about me" and "be a member of the group" categories. It seems counterintuitive that graffiti writers want individual expression, yet also want collective feedback and group membership. It could be that they need to constantly work as individuals to improve their craft, but they also must work together to both draw the boundaries of graffiti and secure for themselves the meaning graffiti has for their personal and communal lives. My findings are limited by several factors. Primarily, my selection method prevents this data from being generalized to the population of graffiti writers at large. Additionally, my third question dealing with learning strategies was poorly operationalized, resulting in data that was difficult to analyze properly. The dichotomous nature of graffiti writing also emerged from my findings. Graffiti writers were shown to be individualistic and exhibitionists - wanting attention and getting that attention through their own creative means. However, graffiti writers also showed a strong desire to be members of the culture of graffiti. Rahn (2002) noted that the inherent paradox that places graffiti writers as artists on one hand and vandals on the other automatically caused writers to question the role of graffiti in their lives. I would like to understand more clearly how the "outlaw" aspect of a graffiti writer's approach to graffiti affects the literacy as a whole. Are writers outlaws to begin with, or does graffiti make them that way? How do they come to terms with the literacy's illegal status?
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