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GRDG 620 - Literacy and Linguistically Diverse Learners - Sheryl Scales

Keeping up in the field

If you pursue a professional career, it is expected that you will keep up with advances in your field.  This is true for both how daily activities are conducted and also for the general research-based advances in the discipline.  Can you imagine a doctor, lawyer, aeronautics engineer, or architect who received their degree 20 years ago and hadn't learned anything new in the meantime?  They would not be a success! The same is true for teachers.  So how do you keep up?

For general trends, every profession has tools to keep one abreast of new developments.  This is one of the benefits of a membership in a professional organization.  The publications of these groups usually include some form of magazine or newsletter that one can browse regularly to hit the high points for the new and upcoming changes in the field without a lot of detail.  This provides a heads-up if you need to find training in new tools, technology, or techniques.

For actual advances in understanding - true research and development - one needs to look at the peer-reviewed journals in your specific area of focus.  You don't need to read them all thoroughly in depth, but it is crucial that you:

  1. Know what the major periodicals are in your field
  2. Skim the table of contents of each issue
  3. Read the abstracts of any articles that are closely related to your work
  4. Actually read the articles that will have a direct impact on how you conduct your work

Elements of Professional Communication

Communication within a professional discipline is not static.  Although you start out not having much familiarity with the "players" in your area, you will quickly begin to recognize significant names, venues, and voices.  Let's breakdown the types of communication:

Professional Social Media

Often hosted and supported by a professional organization, this might be blogs, daily digests, updates, or news feeds.  It might or might not allow comments by readers depending upon whether it is just pushing out an information item or whether it is trying to engage users in a conversational back-and-forth

Discipline specific "News" sources

Newsletters and Newspapers provide brief stories of past and future events, introduce significant people, announce awards or grants past or future...

Discipline specific general-level magazines

These magazines, or "trade publications" have general interest stories, might have advertising related to the field, often include letters from readers reacting to previous stories and also editorials declaring the formal position of that publication on some topically controversial theme.  There might be reviews of general books, software, tools and technology.

Discipline specific scholarly journals

This is where you will find research articles telling the world about new advances in the field both wondrous and mundane.  However, it also serves as the communication venue for high level back-and-forth among researchers.  You will find "commentaries" about some previous article from a competing researcher with a different view.  Which may be responded to by the original researchers in the next issue.  There may well be a letters to the editor section serving a more emotional and less scholarly role than the commentaries.  There are book reviews of the highly focused books in the niche topic for that journal. 


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