Join us online for Lauren Rosenberg’s presentation, “Tracing the Tributaries: Qualitative Literacy Research in Lifespan Studies.”
This presentation focuses on my ongoing research relationship with a group of older adult learners and the ways our interactions continue to change shape across time. At this point, I have known the 4 participants who were in my original study of adult learners writing in informal educational settings since 2005. The initial study concluded in 2006; however, I conducted follow-up interviews and collected writing samples from participants for 4 more years. In 2015, the study was published in a monograph (The Desire for Literacy: Writing in the Lives of Adult Learners). I continued my interactions with the participants in non-research meetings (2015) that led to my new interest in revisiting as a methodology (article under review). The encounters I describe here suggest possibilities for valuing interactions with participants as a means of complicating and extending the research process after publication and shedding light on how we understand the fundamental nature of writing partnerships. Subsequently, I conducted a second study with one participant (Chief) and his spouse (Shirley) in 2018. An article based on that study (“’Still Learning’: One Couple’s Literacy Development in Older Adulthood”), which takes a lifespan perspective, is forthcoming in a special issue of LiCS. The next project I intend to propose will zoom in on the ongoing writing development of Shirley across her lifetime. Although each piece of this research has had its individual objectives, I am interested in looking at the research as a whole in terms of lifespan longitudinal studies. I use the metaphor of a river flowing organically into tributaries to describe this work, which seems to take unexpected pathways based on the conditions of people’s lives, time and aging, and my own career path.